Lemon-Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake

Lemon Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

Where to begin! I have so much to say right now–I really do. So here’s what happened: I’ve recently been crazy for anything with the combination teal/turquoise and yellow, and since I was planning a visit to see my sister-in-law earlier this week, I thought it would be the perfect time to make her some colourful treats, and not just any treat, but something special. I knew in my heart it was a French macaron kind of week, because they are not only a complete delight to make and share, but I can’t think of a sweet that says colour the way they do. So at first, this post was going to be all about the glory of macarons, sans cake, but then I decided to keep going with the colour and flavour combination, and tie them into a small cake (inside and out).

If you’re not familiar with macarons, they are small (about 1 1/2-inch diameter) and elegant sandwich cookies (particularly celebrated in Paris, but becoming increasingly popular in North America) made from almond flour, egg whites, granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar (for the shells) that bake up with a signature “ruffle” or “foot” around the base and slight gloss to the shell. They’re typically filled with anything from buttercream to ganache, and the flavour and colour combinations are pretty much endless, as you can also flavour the shells. What makes beloved macarons so incredibly special, in my opinion, is the way each bite is crispy, chewy and creamy all at once. (And possibly even more, depending on what you fill it with.) Each one is a little parade of texture and taste.

At first glance, aside from the hint of filling peeking through the sides, they may appear sort of dry or innocent, but they literally burst with flavour and melt in your mouth, making them worth every bit of effort. The thing is, the shells are not extremely time-consuming or difficult to make, but the effort required to take special care in the mixing and baking is what will typically result in a successful batch. That being said, they say even some of the most seasoned bakers and macaron makers experience occasional (and sometimes inexplicable) batch failure from time to time. So what does a “failed” macaron shell look like? Well, it might not develop the “foot,” the shell might be cracked, dull, flat, or hollow, and although those are the most common issues, I’m certain that there are more. With so much that can go wrong, it’s hard to imagine it going right, but with the a reliable recipe and instructions, and a bit of extra care and attention, it does, and macaron making is very rewarding.

So which macaron recipe did I follow to make these? Well, since I have not always had perfect luck or success with my previous few macaron attempts, I decided to give my friend Heather’s a try, from her new book SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist. I’ve been reading this incredibly inspiring book every day since receiving it, and I can’t seem to put it away–I truly want to make every single one her of recipes and designs (think glittery Snow Apples, artistic Free-Form Lollipops, innovative Pink Peppercorn Macarons, and more–so much more!). Since I adore Heather and all that she creates, I simply knew in my heart that her macaron recipe and technique would work well.

Lemon Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

I went ahead and made a few batches of the classic macarons: 1 teal, 1 turquoise and 1 egg yellow, and I filled them all with Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream and little dollop of Lemon Curd in the middle (a little zingy gem in the middle). When I decided to create a macaron cake, my first thought was how colourful, textural and tasty it might be to add some actual macarons in the filling layer of the cake (it’s also a fabulous way to use up the shells that aren’t as perfect as the others), and it was! It adds a lovely and unexpected crunch with a little lemony surprise as they burst open upon each bite. I had an epiphany, after the fact, that it would have been even better had I created a blueberry cheesecake-type filling for the blue macarons, and added some of each to the cake, but, that’s just me. (I often have these ideas after I finish the cakes.)

Lemon Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

So I made a lemon-blueberry layer cake, filled it with the Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream with some swirls of Lemon Curd, then nestled a layer of macarons (I ended up just using the shells, but if you’re macarons aren’t too tall, you can try adding the sandwiched macarons inside) into the filling. I tinted the buttercream teal and went ahead and frosted it as I normally do. I thought it would only make sense to finish the cake with some actual macarons, and remembered how fabulous it looked when Steph perched macarons on this cake and this cakecolour me inspired!

Lemon Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake via Sweetapolita

I piped some small swirls where each macaron was to sit, placed them atop the cake, and finished it all off with some small yellow sugar decorations I found at a little shop several months ago–I knew they’d make perfect sense one day, and since they were imported from France they seemed particularly special and perfectly apropos. I love when that happens!

So here we go with the recipes and instructions, and I promise you that it’s worth it.

Lemon Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake          {click to print}

Yield: Two 6-inch round, 2-layer cakes

1 batch Lemon-Blueberry Cake split among four 6″ round cake pans (you can split the recipe in 1/2 for one 6″ round 2-layer cake)

1 batch Lemon Curd (this will fill cake and Macarons)

Double-batch Swiss Meringue Buttercream (this will frost cake and fill Macarons)

2 batches French Macarons, 1 tinted Teal and 1 tinted Egg Yellow and filled with a small dollop of Lemon Curd inside a teaspoon of the buttercream (piping the buttercream around the inner perimeter of the macaron shell works best)

*Note: This combination of cake components works well, because you can use the egg whites for the Swiss Buttercream and the yolks for the Lemon Curd.

French Macaron Recipe

shared with permission from the book, SprinkleBakes: Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist, by Heather Baird

Macarons

YIELD: 12 sandwich cookies or 24 individual shells

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup almond flour

2 egg whites, at room temperature

Pinch of cream of tartar

1/4 cup superfine sugar

Gel food coloring (optional)

1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/4-inch plain tip (or use a zip-top plastic bag without a tip and snip the corner after filling).

2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until well combined.

3. Using a hand-mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy. Stop the mixer and add the cream of tartar. Start the mixer again and continue beating at medium speed until soft peaks form. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to high, and beat until stiff peaks form. The finished meringue should have a smooth, shiny appearance.

4. Sift the almond flour mixture over the egg whites and fold together with a rubber spatula until just mixed. At this point you may add a drop or two of food coloring to tint the batter. Continue to fold the mixture until it has loosened considerably and falls in a ribbon from the spatula.

5. Transfer the batter to the pastry bag.

6. Pipe 1 1/2-inch rounds approximately 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. As you pipe, drag the pastry tip to the side of the rounds to avoid forming peaks. The piped rounds will spread slightly.

7. Tap the bottom of each sheet on the work surface to release trapped air bubbles.

8. Let stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes to dry. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

9. Just before putting the pans in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until the macaron are puffed and have formed the frill, or foot, around the bottom edge of the cookie. The feet may may deflate slightly after the pan is removed from the oven–this is normal and should be expected.

10. Let the macaron shells cool completely on the baking sheets. Carefully peel them away from the parchment paper.

11. Select two same-size macaron shells to sandwich together with 1 teaspoon filling.

Tips

  • If you don’t have time to let your egg whites come to room temperature, you can place them in a microwavable bowl and heat them in microwave for 10 to 15 seconds. Microwaves vary in strength, so be extra careful to not cook the egg whites.
  • Macaron shells can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw completely at room temperature before filling.
  • Use insulated baking pans (such as T-Fal Air-Bake) or use an additional cookie sheet under the pan of piped macarons to ensure the shells do not over-bake.

Sweetapolita’s Macaron Notes:

  • For the macarons, you can grind your own almond flour using raw almonds in the food processor until very fine. It’s also a bit more affordable, as almond flour is $$$.
  • To colour my macarons, I added the gel colour into the meringue, before the flour mixture was added, so I could play around with adding more drops without risking over-mixing my batter. Once I was happy with the colour, I went ahead with adding the almond flour mixture.
  • Macarons, as you’ve probably heard, are a bit unpredictable, even for the most experienced macaron-makers, so don’t give up. I’ve made many batches prior to using Heather’s recipe/method and had many failures, but they’re just too darn amazing to not make, so I kept trying. You’ll notice not all of mine are perfect (far from), but I was very happy with how they turned out in the end.
  • You can fill macarons with pretty much anything you can dream of–ready-made or not, such as jams, buttercream, curd, ganache, frosting, Nutella, etc. You really can’t go wrong!
  • Filling macarons is the perfect solution to small amounts of leftover fillings and frosting from cake and cupcakes projects–you can freeze most in small containers, and thaw when needed.
  • I found the filled macarons increased in awesomeness after sitting in an airtight container in refrigerator for at least a day.
  • Because the topic of macarons is pretty extensive (including troubleshooting, technique variations, etc.), I will be doing more macaron-specific posts along the way. For some amazing information fueled by complete macaron passion, check out Mardi’s blog–it’s filled with macaron posts, troubleshooting, etc.!

Assembly of the Lemon-Blueberry Macaron Delight Cake

1. Trim any doming or top crust and side crust from cake layers using a very sharp serrated knife (I use the Mac Bread Knife for all of my cake trimming, splitting, etc.).

2. Use a cake turntable for filling, frosting and decorating, if a possible. Place a small dollop of frosting in the center of a cake plate or 6″ round thin foil-covered cake board, and place the bottom cake layer on top, top side up (face up).

3. Pipe a dam (a rim around the top perimeter of the cake layer) of buttercream around the cake layer using a large round Pastry Tip
fitted inside a Decorating Bag. Then pipe another smaller circle of buttercream a few inches toward the center. Spoon lemon curd into the open spaces and spread evenly with a small offset palette knife, taking care to keep the curd within the dam (otherwise it will ooze out of the sides of the cake). Gently place 5 macaron shells atop the filling. Place the 2nd cake layer, face down, on top.

4. Tint remaining buttercream teal green, and put a generous scoop of teal buttercream on top, spreading evenly with a small offset palette knife and working your way down the sides until you have a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake (crumb-coat). Chill until set, about 30 minutes.

5. Remove from refrigerator and repeat step 4, but this time using a thicker layer of buttercream and creating a smooth finish. (You can watch me do this on video here).

6. For the top of the cake, place an open star decorating tip (I used 1M) in a Decorating Bag filled with about 1 cup of the buttercream, and pipe 8 small swirls, evenly spaced. Top each swirl with macarons in alternating colours (or your choice), and finish with sugar pearls (if desired).

Store finished cake covered in refrigerator (due to the Lemon Curd filling), but serve at room temperature (you can remove from refrigerator a few hours ahead of serving).

Sweetapolita’s Notes

  • Because Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Lemon Curd both take a little longer to make than some other fillings/frosting, I recommend making both ahead of time, if possible. They freeze well, and the buttercream can be simply brought to room temperature the night before you need it. The curd can basically be used straight from the freezer. If you go ahead and make all of the components in one day, there’s a good chance you will be cursing my name at random throughout the day. But even if you do go this route, it will still be worth it.
  • I also recommend making and filling the macarons about 2 days ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator in an airtight container–they really do taste better after sitting!
  • You can bake the cake layers the day before you need them, and keep them at room temperature wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
  • I baked two 6-inch round cakes (1 for photographing and 1 for gifting), but you can divide the cake and filling quantities in half if you want to create a single 6-inch cake (serves 8).

I hope you find as much joy in making, sharing and enjoying macarons (and macaron cakes) as I did. Stay tuned for more macaron love! ♥

Good luck & enjoy!



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