Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese German Buttercream


 
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream
Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream

Can we take a quick wee sec to talk about how AMAZING sheet cakes are?! Nothing on regular layer cakes, I love them too, but sheet cakes are the perfect combo of fancy and laid back (I like to think of myself as that, dreams are free right?!). There’s no stacking required, but you can still use a fancy buttercream, and you get the best buttercream to cake ratio, in my opinion anyway. You can also frost them directly in the pan, which makes them the best for transporting. When I offer to take cake places, I often will make a sheet cake if it’s a bit more of a casual situation. I’ve had my fair share of cake disasters in an uber in the NYC summer, so a stress free transport is a huge bonus for me too. Plus, you get to live your best buttercream swooping life, which is one of my favourite things to do.

Today’s recipe is one that I am so excited to share with you - it’s a brown butter carrot sheet cake, with a vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. I’ve teamed up with my faves at Heilala Vanilla to bring it to you - their amazing vanilla bean paste is in both the cake, and in the dreamy frosting. Not only is their product great, but they are run by the most amazing people, who are doing all kinds of incredible things by injecting money into the economy and providing jobs in the Kingdom of Tonga - you can read a little more about what they do here. They control the whole process from the growing to the processing of the beans, which results in an extremely ethical, high quality, organic product. I am super proud to be partnering with them again.

I started with a pretty simple cake - a fairly standard carrot cake, but upped my game a little by replacing some of the oil with brown butter, and adding some cardamom in along with the other spices. Cakes with both butter and oil are my new fave. You get the moistness from the oil, in this case a neutral oil, but you also get the richness and flavour from the butter, giving you a total win win situation. In this case I browned the butter, which gives it the most incredible depth of flavour to the cake, and plays perfectly with the spices.

And now let’s talk about the buttercream. Ohhhh my, this buttercream. Another thing that I love about sheet cakes is that you can load them up with buttercream that might typically be too unstable to stack a cake with - like soft peaks of whipped cream, or in this case, a German buttercream with a whole load of cream cheese whipped into it. I love cream cheese frosting, but I am not a huge fan of how sweet and gritty it can be from the powdered sugar, so instead I whipped cream cheese into a vanilla bean German buttercream. If you’re new round here, German buttercream is my absolute fave. It is custard or pastry cream (same thing) based, rather than the meringue base of an Italian or Swiss, or powdered sugar base of an American buttercream. This gives it a whole dimension of flavour that the others lack - a beautiful richness, with the pastry cream cutting the butter just perfectly.

Because this cake didn’t have to stack, the buttercream was able to tolerate much more cream cheese than it usually would. The cream cheese gives it a beautiful tang, and sits so nicely with the vanilla, and against the subtle spice of the cake. It is also pillowy soft, and impossibly smooth, making it the perfect pair for the slightly denser nature of a carrot cake. I know I say this a lot about a lot of things, but this buttercream might be my favourite so far. It’s just perfect.

This cake would make the most perfect Easter baking project - I can’t wait to see you enjoy it. Happy Sheet Caking! x

A few wee tips:

  • Heilala have given me a discount code for you to use on vanilla! You can purchase it here, and the code CLOUDY20 will get you 20% off any of their products! I love the paste, the extract, and also the beans (Affiliate link).

  • Both the cake and the pastry cream need time to cool, so I like to make the pastry cream either the day before, or just before I start the cake, to give it plenty of time to cool. Putting it in a shallow dish to cool in the fridge helps too by increasing the surface area, meaning it cools a bit faster. Make sure your cream cheese and butter is also at room temp.

  • If you don’t like nuts in carrot cake, you can just leave them out!

  • If you haven’t made brown butter before, here is a great tutorial. Make sure that you allow it to cool a little before using in your recipe. I like pouring it into my stand mixer then leaving it to cool, swirling occasionally to help distribute some of the heat.

  • I took the cake out of the pan to add the buttercream, but you can absolutely frost it in the pan if you like. Frosting it in the pan is perfect for if you are transporting it, as it makes it super, super easy to carry, because the pan protects it.

 

 

Carrot Sheet Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese German Buttercream

- Makes one 9” x 13” sheet cake -

Carrot Sheet Cake
450g raw Sugar
160g neutral oil
115g butter, browned and cooled
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste
150g all-purpose flour
150g whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp baking soda.
360g carrot, grated
100g walnuts, coarsely chopped

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese German Buttercream
110g sugar
12g corn starch
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste
190g whole milk
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g cream cheese, at room temperature

 

- PROCESS -

CARROT SHEET CAKE

Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Grease a 9”x13” (22x33cm) baking pan, and line with parchment paper (I like to cut a piece slightly bigger than my pan, then cut a slit in each corner which form ‘tabs’ and allow you to fold the parchment into the corners nicely).

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the raw sugar, neutral oil, cooled brown butter, and eggs, and mix on medium speed until well combined and slightly lightened in colour, 2-3 minutes. Add the Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste and mix until combined.

In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and baking soda. Add to the mixer and mix until just combined. Add the carrots and walnuts and mix on low until just combined.

Transfer to the pan, and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. 

VANILLA BEAN CREAM CHEESE GERMAN BUTTERCREAM

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and corn starch, then add the egg, egg yolk and salt, and whisk together well. In a medium non-stick saucepan, heat the milk and Heilala Vanilla Bean Paste to just shy of a simmer. Remove from the heat.

Using one hand to whisk constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. This helps to temper the eggs and stop them from scrambling. Whisk until incorporated, and then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan. 

Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. It will thicken quickly. Once it has thickened, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat. Pour into a shallow dish or bowl of a stand mixer and press some plastic wrap over the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold. If you are in a hurry, you can speed up this process by placing the custard mixture into a bowl, and placing the bowl into an ice bath, stirring frequently.

Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip the custard mixture on medium until creamy and lump-free. Begin adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, until fully incorporated. Add in the cream cheese, and whip until smooth, then whip for a further 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy. Switch to the paddle attachment and beat on low for 3-4 minutes to help remove any big air bubbles.


ASSEMBLY

Carefully remove the cooled cake from the pan - I do this by turning it onto a wire rack, then using another wire rack with parchment paper on top to flip it up the right way - alternatively you can also put the buttercream on while it is still in the pan, which makes it super easy to transport.

Scrape the buttercream onto the cake, and spread using an offset spatula - swoop it on as desired.

Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature or the fridge.

Brown Butter Carrot Sheet Cake is taken to the next level with a fluffy, whipped vanilla bean cream cheese german buttercream. This cake comes together super easily but is super delicious, and would make the perfect easter dessert. #brownbutter #carrotcake #sheetcake #germanbuttercream

Thank you so much to Heilala Vanilla for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own,.

Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross


 
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross
Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross

I often make recipes, then accidentally sit on them for ages and eventually get around to posting them. I’m trying super hard to be better at it and post as close to when I made and shot the recipe as I can. These hot cross buns though, I needed to share with you immediately.

These are a perfect twist on the traditional spiced fruit bun - I started with a super soft, lush dough, which I spiked with a little cocoa and a lot of cardamom, then kneaded in more chocolate chips than I thought the dough could handle. I then divided the dough into 12 buns, and let them rise again, then gave them a quick score before popping them in the oven to partially bake.

What sets these apart from standard hot cross buns is the cross. Instead of the standard choux cross or icing cross, I made a chocolate pastry cream, and piped it on once the buns were nearly baked. The idea from this came from an amazing place in Auckland called Ima. A few years ago, they started making hot cross buns with a pastry cream cross, and I’ve been drooling over them every easter since, and when I came across their recipe on the internet, I knew I had to give it a try.

The pastry cream cross is piped onto the bun once it has been in the oven for about 20 minutes - the cross that you score in opens up nicely, providing you with a little trench in which to pipe the cross. The buns then finish baking - the pastry cream cross gets a thin skin, but stays super fudgy. Once the buns are done, they are glazed with a cardamom vanilla bean syrup, adding a little bit of moisture, and giving them a beautiful sheen.

These are honestly some of the best hot cross buns that I have had - they are super soft, lightly spiced from the cardamom, loaded up with chocolate, and finished off with the most perfect fudgy cross. I’m totally addicted and hope that they find their way into your Easter baking lineup! I also can’t wait to revamp my original hot cross bun recipe - that will be coming your way very soon! x

A few wee tips:

  • The dough for these will seem a little softer than you are used to - I jammed a whole lot of milk and butter into them, which makes for the most lush, soft bun. Just trust me on this one - it makes it easy to roll them too!

  • I did these all in one day, but the first rise can absolutely be done overnight in the fridge if you wanted to have them first thing in the morning - the second rise post shaping may take a little longer.

  • I like to make the pastry cream while the dough is doing its first rise, then place it into a piping bag with a clip both above the tip and above the pastry cream, then cool it directly in the piping bag which helps to prevent a skin from forming.

  • I used this enamel pan to make these, but a quarter sheet pan or other large baking pan you have should work well too! I have included a photograph just after I popped them into the pan so you can see the spacing.

 

 

Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross

- Makes 12 buns-

Pastry cream cross adapted from Ima

Cardamom Dark Chocolate Dough
340g whole milk, lukewarm
120g sugar, divided
3 tsp active dry yeast
520g all-purpose flour
30g dutch process cocoa
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
275g dark chocolate, chips, chunks, or callets (I used callebaut callets)

Pastry Cream Cross
50g corn starch
100g sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
400g whole milk
15g cocoa
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature

Cardamom Vanilla Bean Syrup
120g water
100g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 tsp ground cardamom  

- PROCESS -

BUN DOUGH

Place the lukewarm milk, 15g of the sugar, and the yeast in a medium sized bowl, and stir to combine. Leave for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, place the remaining 105g sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon.

Add the milk mixture and vanilla bean paste to the dry ingredients, and mix on low for 2-3 minutes. Increase the speed of the mixer to medium, and mix for a further 5 minutes. Add the butter a little at a time, waiting until it is incorporated until adding the next piece. Mix for a further 7-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and soft. 

Turn out the dough onto a work surface (I do not find that there is a need to flour, but add some if needed), and knead in the chocolate by hand. It will take longer than you expect but the chocolate will eventually incorporate into the dough.

Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or place in the fridge overnight. While the dough is proofing, make the pastry cream.

 

PASTRY CREAM

In a medium bowl, whisk together the corn starch and sugar. Add the eggs, salt, and vanilla bean paste, and whisk well to combine.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the whole milk and cocoa powder, then place over a low heat until just shy of a simmer.

Whisking constantly, pour about half of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth, then add back into the saucepan. Whisking constantly, cook until thick. Add the butter and whisk to combine.

Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip, and a clip just above the tip to prevent any leakage. Twist the piping bag closed, or secure with another clip, and store in the fridge until needed.

ASSEMBLY

Lightly grease an 11” x 13.5” baking pan or roasting dish. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and weigh the dough. Divide the weight of the dough by 12, and divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces. Roll each tightly into a ball, then arrange evenly in the pan.

Lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes, or until puffy and the dough springs back when lightly pressed with a finger.

Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Using a sharp paring knife or razor blade, score crosses in the buns.

Bake the buns for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and pipe the chocolate pastry cream in crosses in the holes provided by the scoring.

Return the buns to the oven and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden brown (this can be a little hard to gauge with the cocoa in the dough), or until they register 200°f / 90°c on an instant read thermometer. While the buns are baking, prepare the sugar syrup.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool, before brushing on the sugar syrup (recipe below).

SUGAR SYRUP

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, then leave to stand until ready to use.

Store leftover buns in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat in the microwave briefly before eating. Serve with butter.

Dark Chocolate and Cardamom Hot Cross Buns with Chocolate Pastry Cream Cross. These are the perfect twist on the traditional hot cross bun - the dough is soft and smooth, and the pastry cream cross adds a beautiful fudgy finish to the bun. These are a must make this Easter!  #hotcrossbuns #chocolatehotcrossbun #cardamomhotcrossbun #custardcross

The Ultimate Easter Macaron Box


 
The ultimate Easter Macaron Box - creme egg macarons, hot cross bun macarons, coconut macarons, chocolate peanut butter macarons and peeps marshmallow macarons make up the most amazing Easter inspired box. This would make an incredible easter gift, and can be customised however you like!
The ultimate Easter Macaron Box - creme egg macarons, hot cross bun macarons, coconut macarons, chocolate peanut butter macarons and peeps marshmallow macarons make up the most amazing Easter inspired box. This would make an incredible easter gift, and can be customised however you like!
The ultimate Easter Macaron Box - creme egg macarons, hot cross bun macarons, coconut macarons, chocolate peanut butter macarons and peeps marshmallow macarons make up the most amazing Easter inspired box. This would make an incredible easter gift, and can be customised however you like!
The ultimate Easter Macaron Box - creme egg macarons, hot cross bun macarons, coconut macarons, chocolate peanut butter macarons and peeps marshmallow macarons make up the most amazing Easter inspired box. This would make an incredible easter gift, and can be customised however you like!
The ultimate Easter Macaron Box - creme egg macarons, hot cross bun macarons, coconut macarons, chocolate peanut butter macarons and peeps marshmallow macarons make up the most amazing Easter inspired box. This would make an incredible easter gift, and can be customised however you like!
The ultimate Easter Macaron Box - creme egg macarons, hot cross bun macarons, coconut macarons, chocolate peanut butter macarons and peeps marshmallow macarons make up the most amazing Easter inspired box. This would make an incredible easter gift, and can be customised however you like!
The ultimate Easter Macaron Box - creme egg macarons, hot cross bun macarons, coconut macarons, chocolate peanut butter macarons and peeps marshmallow macarons make up the most amazing Easter inspired box. This would make an incredible easter gift, and can be customised however you like!

I am so, SO excited for Easter baking season. I think it might be my actual favourite - I spent today making dark chocolate cardamom hot cross buns and a carrot cake sheet cake, but I still have a bunch more recipes lined up that I can’t wait to share with you!

Jase and I couldn’t let the best baking season go by without a macaron box, and I think we really knocked it out of the park this time. We brought back our first mac recipe we shared - the creme egg mac, and then filled the box with a whole bunch of other Easter inspired flavours. I am totally obsessed with how this box came out, and I hope that you give some of the recipes a try! I am particularly excited by how the chocolate peanut butter and peeps macarons came out - this was our first time piping marshmallow into macarons, and I certainly don’t think that it will be our last.

We’ve come full circle with our macaron recipes - this is the 13th that we have shared! It was so fun to see how much we have learnt along the way, and it’s super satisfying to see how consistently we can make macs now. It goes to show that to get good at something, practice is really the best way to master a skill. Trial and error, and working out what works and what doesn’t work for you seems to be the best way. Everyone works out their own wee way of making things. This way works best for us, and has worked for a bunch of others, but it may require some wee tweaks to get it to suit you- don’t be afraid to play around and see what is best! xx

Here’s what we ended up with:

  • Creme Egg Macarons - Speckled shell filled with a Creme Egg chocolate ganache

  • Hot Cross Bun Macaron - Vanilla bean shell filled with a spiced German buttercream

  • Coconut Macaron - Vanilla bean shell filled with a coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Macaron - Chocolate shell filled with peanut butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • Peeps Macaron - Sugared Vanilla bean shell filled with a vanilla bean marshmallow and rolled in sanding sugar

A few wee tips:

  • I have added the base recipe we use for the shells down below, then at the end I have put the variations in food colouring or finishing that we did to make each shell ‘flavour’ (they are all vanilla bean flavour, except for the chocolate, and I have added in a note, or you can just refer to this recipe. The filling recipes and assembly instructions will be underneath the shell recipe.

  • Everything I have learnt along the way about making macarons is in the notes of this post - I update it whenever I have something to add. I suggest giving it a good read through before you start if you are new to macs!

  • We used this box to make this cookie box - Rich cut me little dividers on the laser cutter, but the craft wood is soft enough that you can use a craft knife and a ruler. We then just taped the dividers in.

  • We made all the shells except for the chocolate ones on one day (we could have done them all on the one day, we just got lazy), the mini egg ganache, and the pastry cream for the Hot Cross Bun German buttercream, and then the following day made the remainder of the fillings, filled the macarons, and filled and shot the box. If you break up your workload, and prep your ingredients before you start (having enough sheet pans is important), it isn’t too much work!

  • We worked it so that we could re-use some of the fillings - we made one larger batch of swiss meringue buttercream (double what is listed below, so 4 sticks of butter), then split it, and added the coconut to half and the peanut butter to the remaining half. This made the filling process super easy as we didn’t need to make five fillings from scratch

  • In terms of work flow, we were able to start the next batch of shells soon after piping out the previous ones. Like I mentioned before, this only works if you have lots of sheet pans!

  • If you are colouring one batch of batter two different colours, mix it part of the way, then split the batter into separate bowls (half a batch of batter weighs 420g), then add the gel food colouring and finish the mixing process. For example we split a batch and coloured half for the creme egg macs, and half for the peeps macs, then did the same with the coconut macs and the hot cross bun macs. We made one bigger batch of the chocolate shells as the cocoa powder has to be mixed in with the ground almond mixture.

  • Store all the shells in an airtight container until ready to fill.

 

 

Vanilla Bean Macarons

- Makes about 30 Macarons -

Macaron Shell Recipe from I love Macarons, with adaptations from Fox and Crane 

Note: this is the base recipe for every shell we made in the box, except the chocolate shells. For Chocolate shells, reduce the powdered sugar to 270g, and add in 20g dark dutch process or black cocoa with the powdered sugar mix. There is a recipe here.

Macaron Shells
170g ground almonds
300g powdered sugar
180g egg whites, at room temperature
160g sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

 

- PROCESS -

Preheat oven to 300˚f / 150˚c, and position the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Using a round cookie cutter or the base of a large piping tip (something about 1.5 inches in diameter), draw a "template" for your macarons on a piece of parchment paper, leaving about 3/4" between each circle. 

Combine the almond meal and powdered sugar together in a large bowl. Sift the mixture twice, to ensure there are no large lumps and that the mixture is properly aerated. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the mixer speed, and whip on high until the meringue starts to firm up. Add gel food colouring, if using, a few drops at a time, until the desired colour is reached. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated. Continue to whip until the meringue forms stiff peaks (there is a good example here). 

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add half of the ground almond and powdered sugar mixture, and fold into the meringue. You want to deflate the meringue just a little at this stage, to combine the meringue and ground almond mixture. 

Add the remaining ground almond mixture, and stir lightly to combine. Now comes the important part - mixing the batter to the correct consistency. Again, this video does a good job of explaining it. Fold the mixture in a series of 'turns', deflating the batter by spreading it against the side of the bowl. Turn the bowl slightly and repeat the movement - scooping the batter from the bottom of the bowl, and spreading it against the side. Continuously check the consistency of the batter - you want it to flow like lava when you lift the spatula from the bowl, and you should be able to 'draw' a figure 8 with it, without the batter breaking (again, watch lots of videos to get an idea! They help so much). This step can take some practice until you know what it should feel and look like. If in doubt you are better to under mix them than over mix them - the process of putting the batter into the bag and piping out will help mix a little too.

Fit a large pastry bag with a medium sized round tip, such as an ateco #805. Place the macaron template on a sheet pan, and place a second piece of parchment over it. Holding the piping bag at a 90˚ angle to the surface, pipe out the batter into blobs the size of the circles drawn on the template. Finish off each piped circle with a little "flick" of your wrist to minimise the batter forming a point (it will still form a small one, but we can get rid of this with banging). Remove the template from under the macarons.

Hold the baking sheet in two hands, and carefully but firmly, evenly bang it against the bench. Repeat this a few more times - this will get rid of any air bubbles, remove points on the top, and help them to spread out slightly. 

Repeat the piping and banging process until you have used up all of the batter - I usually make three sheet pans worth.

Allow the macarons to dry at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes, or until they form a skin that you can touch without your finger sticking to them. This time will drastically vary depending on the humidity. 

About fifteen minutes before you are going to bake the macarons, place a spare sheet pan in the oven to preheat - this is going to be used to place under the pan with the macarons on it, to double up, which should help with even baking. Bake the macarons one sheet at a time - place the sheet with the macarons on the preheated sheet, and place in the oven. 

Bake for approximately 18 minutes, rotating the pan once during the cooking process, and checking for doneness after 15 minutes. The macarons should develop a foot (the ruffled part on the bottom of the macaron), and bake without browning. To see if they are done - press down lightly on a shell. If the foot gives way, it needs a little longer, if it is stable, then it is close to being done. Test a macaron shell - if you can peel it away cleanly from the paper, they are done. If they are stable but cannot yet peel away cleanly, give them another minute or so. Again, this part takes a little trial and error depending on your oven. If they seem done but do not peel away cleanly, do not worry - there is a little trick for that! 

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the sheet pan for 10 minutes before peeling off the parchment paper and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat the baking with the remaining trays, using the same spare sheet pan to double up.

If your macs do not peel away cleanly, place them, on the parchment paper, into the freezer for 5-10 minutes, then peel away from the paper. 

Store cooled macarons in an airtight container until ready to use. 

-FLAVOUR / COLOUR VARIATIONS -

  • For Creme egg shells, tint the shells with grey/blue gel colouring (we used ‘ash’ by americolor and a tiny drop of black), then splatter with watered down black gel food colouring using a paintbrush after the shells have baked. Fill with Creme egg ganache (recipe follows)

  • For Hot Cross Bun shells, tint the shells with brown food colouring (we used ‘chocolate brown' by americolor), then fill with spiced German Buttercream (recipe follows)

  • For the Coconut shells, tint the shells with yellow food colouring (we used ‘lemon yellow’ by americolor), then fill with coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe follows)

  • For the Chocolate shells, add 20g dark dutch process or black cocoa to the powdered sugar mix - see the note above, or there is a recipe here. Fill with peanut butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe follows)

  • For the Peeps shells, tint the shells bright pink (we used ‘deep pink’ by americolor), and dust with pink sanding sugar once piped. Fill with vanilla bean marshmallow (recipe follows)

  • If you would like to add a cross to the hot cross bun macarons, you can make one out of powdered sugar and milk. Sift 100g powdered sugar into a bowl, then add milk until you form a thick paste. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip, and pipe crosses on half the shells (do this before you fill them).

 

 

Creme egg ganache

- Makes enough to fill 30 Macarons -

12 regular sized cadbury creme eggs (35g each, 420g total), chopped
90g (6 Tbsp) Heavy Cream
30g (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter
100g milk chocolate

- PROCESS -

Place all of the ingredients in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the bowl does not touch the water. Stir with a whisk or spatula until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a container, and press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the filling. Refrigerate for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until the ganache has firmed up to a piping consistency. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip.

Pair each macaron shell with another of a similar size. Pipe a circle of buttercream on one half, and then sandwich with the second shell. Macarons taste best if you 'mature' them in the fridge overnight to let the flavours meld, but they are perfect eaten immediately too! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

 

Spiced German Buttercream

- Makes enough to fill 30 Macarons -

110g dark brown sugar
12g (1 1/2 Tbsp) cornstarch
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
190g whole milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin spice or mixed spice
340g (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

- PROCESS -

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and corn starch, then whisk in the egg, egg yolk and salt. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice / mixed spice. Heat to to just shy of a simmer.  Remove from the heat.

Using one hand to whisk constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. This helps to temper the eggs and stop them from scrambling. Whisk until incorporated, and then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan.

Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. It will thicken quickly. Once it has thickened, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat. Pour into a shallow container or bowl of a stand mixer and press some plastic wrap over the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold - at least four hours, preferably overnight. If you need to speed this process up, you can place the pastry cream in a bowl, then place the bowl in an ice bath. Stir frequently.

Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment, and place the pastry cream in the bowl. Whip the mixture on medium until creamy and lump-free. Begin adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, until fully incorporated. It may look curdled at some point but just keep whipping - it will come together! Store in an airtight container until ready to use, or if using immediately, transfer to a piping bag fitted with large french star tip.

Pair up the macaron shells, and a round of buttercream on one half. Top with the second shell. Macarons taste best if you 'mature' them in the fridge overnight to let the flavours meld, but they are perfect eaten immediately too! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

 

Coconut Swiss Meringue buttercream

- Makes enough to fill 30 Macarons -

60g egg whites
100g granulated sugar
pinch of salt
225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
100g coconut threads or flakes, blitzed in a food processor until finely chopped
Sprinkles to finish (we used ‘hangin’ with my peeps’ by sprinkle pop)

- PROCESS -

Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or a heat proof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bowl. Heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture registers 160˚f / 70˚c on a thermometer and the sugar has dissolved. Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites on high until they are snowy white and fluffy, 8-10 minutes. Add the butter one chunk at a time. The mixture may look curdled - but just keep mixing! Once all the butter is incorporated, mix on high for a further 10 minutes.

Once the buttercream has finished mixing, and is smooth and silky, add in the vanilla bean paste. Mix for a further 2-3 minutes, then switch to the paddle attachment and mix on low for one minute to remove any air. Add the blitzed coconut and mix to combine. Fit a piping bag with a large round tip, and fill the bag with the buttercream.

Pair up the macaron shells, and pipe a round of buttercream on one half of each pair. Top with the second shell. Smooth any buttercream that is sticking over the edges with your finger, then roll the macarons in sprinkles so that the sprinkles stick to the buttercream. Macarons taste best if you 'mature' them in the fridge overnight to let the flavours meld, but they are perfect eaten immediately too! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

 

Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue buttercream

- Makes enough to fill 30 Macarons -

60g egg whites
100g granulated sugar
pinch of salt
225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
150g smooth/creamy peanut butter (processed peanut butter is best, natural may seize your buttercream)

- PROCESS -

Place the egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or a heat proof bowl. Place over a pot of simmering water, ensuring that the water does not touch the bowl. Heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture registers 160˚f / 70˚c on a thermometer and the sugar has dissolved. Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer, and fit with the whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites on high until they are snowy white and fluffy, 8-10 minutes. Add the butter one chunk at a time. The mixture may look curdled - but just keep mixing! Once all the butter is incorporated, mix on high for a further 10 minutes.

Once the buttercream has finished mixing, and is smooth and silky, add in the vanilla bean paste and peanut butter. Mix for a further 2-3 minutes, then switch to the paddle attachment and mix on low for one minute to remove any air. Fit a piping bag with a small french star tip, and fill the bag with the buttercream.

Pair up the macaron shells, and pipe a round of buttercream blobs on one half of each pair. Top with the second shell. Smooth any buttercream that is sticking over the edges with your finger, then roll the macarons in sprinkles so that the sprinkles stick to the buttercream. Macarons taste best if you 'mature' them in the fridge overnight to let the flavours meld, but they are perfect eaten immediately too! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

 

 

Vanilla Bean Marshmallow

- Makes enough to fill 30 Macarons -

Note - make sure you have everything ready to go before you make the marshmallow, as you will have to work quite quickly once it is whipped. Pair up the shells and have the piping bag ready. Extra marshmallow can be cured in a greased loaf pan.

14g (2 packets) powdered gelatine
76g cold water
103g liquid honey
76g water
265g sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Bright Pink gel food colour (we used ‘deep pink’ by americolor)
Pink Sanding sugar to finish (optional)

- PROCESS -

Fit a large piping bag with a round tip. Fit the stand mixer with the whisk attachment. In the mixing bowl, combine the cold water and gelatin and mix well with a fork, and leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup.

In a medium pot, combine the water, honey, vanilla, and sugar. Heat over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally. Heat until the syrup reaches 240˚f /120˚c, then remove from the heat and leave to cool to 210˚f /100˚c.

Turn the mixer on to medium, and mix for a few seconds to help break up the bloomed gelatin. With the mixer running, VERY carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the mixer. Turn the speed up to high, and whip for 5-7 minutes, until the marshmallow has doubled in volume, has turned white, and holds somewhat of a peak when you stop the mixer and lift out the whisk. While the marshmallow is mixing, add pink gel food colouring as desired. Transfer to the piping bag.

Pair up the macaron shells, and pipe a round of marshmallow on one half of each pair. Top with the second shell. Press down lightly, then carefully sprinkle the exposed marshmallow with pink sanding sugar. Macarons taste best if you 'mature' them in the fridge overnight to let the flavours meld, but they are perfect eaten immediately too! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

The ultimate Easter Macaron Box - creme egg macarons, hot cross bun macarons, coconut macarons, chocolate peanut butter macarons and peeps marshmallow macarons make up the most amazing Easter inspired box. This would make an incredible easter gift, and can be customised however you like!