Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Buttercream


 
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Buttercream - this party cake is from the latest book from Bake from Scratch Magazine. Soft chocolate and peanut butter cake layers are sandwiched with chocolate and peanut butter buttercream, then finished off with playful blobs of the buttercream to create the perfect chocolate ombre cake. This cake is easy to make and is great to serve a crowd - you can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate! #chocolatecake #peanutbuttercake #chocolatebuttercream #peanutbutterbuttercream
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Buttercream - this party cake is from the latest book from Bake from Scratch Magazine. Soft chocolate and peanut butter cake layers are sandwiched with chocolate and peanut butter buttercream, then finished off with playful blobs of the buttercream to create the perfect chocolate ombre cake. This cake is easy to make and is great to serve a crowd - you can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate! #chocolatecake #peanutbuttercake #chocolatebuttercream #peanutbutterbuttercream
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Buttercream - this party cake is from the latest book from Bake from Scratch Magazine. Soft chocolate and peanut butter cake layers are sandwiched with chocolate and peanut butter buttercream, then finished off with playful blobs of the buttercream to create the perfect chocolate ombre cake. This cake is easy to make and is great to serve a crowd - you can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate! #chocolatecake #peanutbuttercake #chocolatebuttercream #peanutbutterbuttercream
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Buttercream - this party cake is from the latest book from Bake from Scratch Magazine. Soft chocolate and peanut butter cake layers are sandwiched with chocolate and peanut butter buttercream, then finished off with playful blobs of the buttercream to create the perfect chocolate ombre cake. This cake is easy to make and is great to serve a crowd - you can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate! #chocolatecake #peanutbuttercake #chocolatebuttercream #peanutbutterbuttercream
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Buttercream - this party cake is from the latest book from Bake from Scratch Magazine. Soft chocolate and peanut butter cake layers are sandwiched with chocolate and peanut butter buttercream, then finished off with playful blobs of the buttercream to create the perfect chocolate ombre cake. This cake is easy to make and is great to serve a crowd - you can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate! #chocolatecake #peanutbuttercake #chocolatebuttercream #peanutbutterbuttercream
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Buttercream - this party cake is from the latest book from Bake from Scratch Magazine. Soft chocolate and peanut butter cake layers are sandwiched with chocolate and peanut butter buttercream, then finished off with playful blobs of the buttercream to create the perfect chocolate ombre cake. This cake is easy to make and is great to serve a crowd - you can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate! #chocolatecake #peanutbuttercake #chocolatebuttercream #peanutbutterbuttercream
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Buttercream - this party cake is from the latest book from Bake from Scratch Magazine. Soft chocolate and peanut butter cake layers are sandwiched with chocolate and peanut butter buttercream, then finished off with playful blobs of the buttercream to create the perfect chocolate ombre cake. This cake is easy to make and is great to serve a crowd - you can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate! #chocolatecake #peanutbuttercake #chocolatebuttercream #peanutbutterbuttercream
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Buttercream - this party cake is from the latest book from Bake from Scratch Magazine. Soft chocolate and peanut butter cake layers are sandwiched with chocolate and peanut butter buttercream, then finished off with playful blobs of the buttercream to create the perfect chocolate ombre cake. This cake is easy to make and is great to serve a crowd - you can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate! #chocolatecake #peanutbuttercake #chocolatebuttercream #peanutbutterbuttercream

Put your party pants on, because this is a party cake! I am super excited to be sharing the recipe for this dude - it comes from the newest book from Brian and Bake From Scratch! Each year they put together an incredible compilation of all the recipes from the last year, and turn them into one big, beautiful book. I have a couple of recipes in there from my contribution to the holiday cookie issue last year - it’s always so, so exciting to see my photographs in print alongside some of my fave bakers and bloggers. The book is such a lovely round up, but also an amazing idea if you live outside of the States and want all the recipes that were included this past year, rather than having to get the magazine sent overseas each month!

When I was choosing something to make (with the assistance of Brooke and Brian via facetime while they had cocktail hour in their hotel), I was looking for something a wee bit epic. I went back and forth for a bit, before Brian suggested I take a bunch of recipes from their layer cake section, and mix and match them. There’s a super cool section at the start of the cake chapter that has a whole lot of cake recipes, and a whole lot of buttercream recipes, and you can essentially just pick a cake, pick a buttercream, and you have an instant combination. It’s such a clever idea - I’ve highlighted two of the cake recipes here and two of the buttercreams, but there are a whole load more in the book! Definitely pick up a copy if you can - it would make the most amazing present for the baking enthusiast in your life!

I couldn’t go past the classic peanut butter and chocolate combination for this cake. I made both the chocolate and the peanut butter cakes - both are stir together cakes (rather than needing a mixer), so come together super quickly. I made them the night before, then once they were cool, wrapped them up tightly and popped them in the freezer overnight - ideally if I have the time, this is my favourite way to frost a cake, but room temp or chilled cakes work great too! I then stacked them up, alternating not only the cake flavour, but the buttercream filling inside, which made for a super exciting cake interior.

I’m not usually a huge fan of American Buttercream (We all know I am a die hard German buttercream girl), but there are a two times when I absolutely love it: when it has peanut butter, and when it has chocolate. I used both of these to finish off this cake, both from the mix and match section I mentioned - I crumb coated it using both flavours, then couldn’t help but finish it off in a way that’s my ultimate go to, blobs of buttercream piped on using a french star tip. I was going to just do a sparse covering of the buttercream blobs, but always end up getting carried away (they are so, so fun), so covered the whole thing, which I’m super happy I did, as it ended up being the most perfect cake:buttercream ratio!

This cake looks super fancy but I promise that it is much easier than it looks - it’s two batches of cake, but both come together super easy, and bake up amazingly flat, with no levelling required. Then it’s just two quick batches of buttercream which you use to fill and crumb coat the cake, then transfer the remainder into your piping bags and blob away! I wanted to have three colours of buttercream so I mixed together some of the chocolate and peanut butter (I actually used the frosting that got scraped off in the crumb coating process), to give me a light brown choc peanut butter buttercream too, which worked so perfectly! This cake would be the most amazing thing to take to a celebration or for a birthday - it’s the perfect texture, and the flavour combination is just incredible.

A few wee tips:

  • I almost always add more heavy cream to american buttercream to get it to the texture I want - you want something smooth and silky that is going to be really nice to pipe, so I often add up to about a 1/4 cup more than the recipe calls for. Once you have mixed up the buttercream, just keep adding heavy cream until it is a nice soft smooth texture, then crank up the speed of the mixer and let it go on high for a few minutes to make sure it is super fluffy.

  • Once I have the buttercream super fluffy, I then like to turn the mixer to low and let it go for a minute or two, just to help get rid of any big air pockets which will make bubbles when you’re frosting the cake.

  • I ended up with a wee ombre crumb coat situation which I kind of loved - to get this, I plopped some peanut butter buttercream in a piping bag, then a little chocolate, another scoop of peanut butter, then a big scoop of chocolate, then snipped the end off the bag and used that to cover the cake on the turntable. I then smoothed it off, and used any excess to fill in holes and to do the top. The ombre was a happy accident, but I will be definitely be doing it this way again!

  • As you can see in the photos I didn’t worry toooo much about making the cake super flat on the top or getting the edges super sharp, because I knew that I was going to be covering it in blobs of buttercream.

  • When I’m making two cakes in a row, I usually cool the pan quickly by running it under cold water when I wash it - this means you can get your second cake on the go as soon as you can!

 

 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Frosting

- Makes One Eight inch, four layer cake -

Recipe Reprinted with permission from Bake From Scratch: Artisan Recipes for The Home Baker

Chocolate Cake
133g granulated sugar
150g light brown sugar
55g canola oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
210g all-purpose flour
50g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
240g whole milk, at room temperature
160g hot coffee

Peanut Butter Cake
220g light brown sugar
85g peanut butter (use regular, smooth packaged peanut butter - natural will separate)
75g vegetable oil or other neutral oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
185g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
240g buttermilk, at room temperature

Chocolate Buttercream
350g unsalted butter, at room temperature
130g unsweetened cocoa (I used dutch process)
720g powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp kosher salt
90g heavy whipping cream, plus more as needed (see notes)

Peanut Butter Buttercream
255g unsalted butter, at room temperature
130g smooth peanut butter
810g powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp salt
135g heavy cream, plus more as needed (see notes)

- PROCESS -

CHOCOLATE CAKE

Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Butter and flour two 8” round cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugars and oil. Add egg, egg yolk, and extract, and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, stirring just until combined after each addition. Stir in the hot coffee just until combined. Divide batter between cake pans.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let col in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and allow to cool on a wire rack completely. If preparing ahead, once cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

PEANUT BUTTER CAKE

Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Butter and flour two 8” round cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the light brown sugar, peanut butter, and oil until combined and creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, stirring until just combined.

In a medium bowl, soft together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, stirring until just combined after each addition.

Divide the batter between the pans (I like to do this by weight).

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire racks.

If preparing ahead, once cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze overnight.

CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cocoa at low speed until well combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, alternately with cream, 1 Tbsp at a time, beating until combined. Add vanilla and salt. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high. Beat until mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Add more cream if needed (see notes), and beat on high until soft and spreadable. Reduce the mixer to low and beat for 1-2 minutes to remove any air bubbles. Use immediately, or place a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the buttercream until you use.

PEANUT BUTTER BUTTERCREAM

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and peanut butter at medium speed until smooth. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add powdered sugar and salt, beating until combined. Add cream, beating until a spreadable consistency is reached. Add more cream if needed (see notes), and beat on high until soft and spreadable. Reduce the mixer to low and beat for 1-2 minutes to remove any air bubbles. Use immediately, or or place a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the buttercream until you use.

ASSEMBLY

Secure one of the peanut butter layers of cake to a cake turntable using a little buttercream (I actually frosted mine on a cake stand, on top of a turntable). Add about 3/4 cup chocolate buttercream onto the first layer of cake, and smooth using an offset spatula. Top with a chocolate layer, and add about 3/4 cup peanut butter buttercream, and smooth down. Repeat the process, adding a peanut butter layer, chocolate buttercream, and finally a chocolate layer (I like to put the top layer upside down to make the top nice and flat, but I forgot this time!).

Frost the cake with a crumb coat - to do this I put peanut butter and chocolate buttercream into a piping bag (see notes), and then spun the turntable while I piped the buttercream onto the outside of the cake. Don’t worry if there are some gaps. Smooth using a cake scraper or an offset spatula, scraping off the scraper between passes, and placing the scraped off buttercream into a bowl off to the side.

Once you have crumb coated your cake, place it in the fridge to chill for about 20 minutes, while you prepare the buttercream for the outside.

Fit three piping bags with french star tips - I use Ateco #866. If you used a bowl to the side to collect the scraped buttercream (I did, and ended up with both peanut butter and chocolate buttercream), mix well to combine, adding more chocolate or peanut butter buttercream if necessary until you have a nice light brown colour. Transfer to a piping bag. Transfer the remaining chocolate and peanut butter buttercreams to the other two piping bags.

Remove the cake from the fridge, and pipe blobs of buttercream over the surface of the cake - I just blob them on randomly, switching colours every now and then to keep the pattern nice and mixed up. Repeat until the cake is completely covered in buttercream blobs.

Store in the fridge until ready to serve. Once cut, store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Chocolate and Peanut Butter Buttercream - this party cake is from the latest book from Bake from Scratch Magazine. Soft chocolate and peanut butter cake layers are sandwiched with chocolate and peanut butter buttercream, then finished off with playful blobs of the buttercream to create the perfect chocolate ombre cake. This cake is easy to make and is great to serve a crowd - you can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate! #chocolatecake #peanutbuttercake #chocolatebuttercream #peanutbutterbuttercream

Hundreds and Thousands Macarons (Vanilla Macarons with Vanilla Bean Buttercream)


 
Hundreds and Thousands Macarons - a grown up version of a childhood treat. Vanilla shells, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, and sandwiched with an american buttercream for the perfect nostalgic treat.
Hundreds and Thousands Macarons - a grown up version of a childhood treat. Vanilla shells, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, and sandwiched with an american buttercream for the perfect nostalgic treat.
Hundreds and Thousands Macarons - a grown up version of a childhood treat. Vanilla shells, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, and sandwiched with an american buttercream for the perfect nostalgic treat.
Hundreds and Thousands Macarons - a grown up version of a childhood treat. Vanilla shells, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, and sandwiched with an american buttercream for the perfect nostalgic treat.
Hundreds and Thousands Macarons - a grown up version of a childhood treat. Vanilla shells, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, and sandwiched with an american buttercream for the perfect nostalgic treat.
Hundreds and Thousands Macarons - a grown up version of a childhood treat. Vanilla shells, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, and sandwiched with an american buttercream for the perfect nostalgic treat.
Hundreds and Thousands Macarons - a grown up version of a childhood treat. Vanilla shells, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, and sandwiched with an american buttercream for the perfect nostalgic treat.
Hundreds and Thousands Macarons - a grown up version of a childhood treat. Vanilla shells, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, and sandwiched with an american buttercream for the perfect nostalgic treat.
Hundreds and Thousands Macarons - a grown up version of a childhood treat. Vanilla shells, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, and sandwiched with an american buttercream for the perfect nostalgic treat.

 

I have a confession to make. I can't make rice. To be fair I never really took the time to learn properly - I just tried a few times, made seriously gross mush (rich described it as 'melt in your mouth' one time just to be nice), and then bought a rice cooker, and I haven't had an issue since. 

Unfortunately, macarons aren't such an easy fix. I fell in love with these little cookies a few years ago, but after a few times making them, decided that they were too tricky, and popped them directly into the too hard basket. I blamed my oven. I blamed the weather. I blamed all sorts of things. I put them out of my mind and just decided that I couldn't make them, but they stayed lurking there, until I decided recently that it was time to give them a go again. 

I was convinced my oven was the issue, so I set out to make them in a countertop convection oven. This produced allll kinds of weird results - perfect shells and a nice foot, but on the strangest angle i've ever seen. About 10 batches in I decided that it was probably time to try something else, because this wasn't working. I had tried swiss meringue, and Italian meringue, but had stayed away from french because it was 'harder' to make macs with. 

All it took was a well timed visit to my friend Jase's house with a couple of passionfruit. I made a passionfruit curd then sat at his breakfast bar and watched him make macs, carefully taking mental notes of each step, before realising that I had been doing most of it right all along, and I just needed to keep trying. And so I went home, busted out the food processor again, and proceeded to FINALLY make a batch of macs that were worthy of being called macarons. I was worried I had fluked it, so told myself I had to make another six batches that were perfect before I was even allowed to think about sharing the recipe. And now look where we are! Cloudy Kitchen can make macarons. 

I'm not going to pretend these are easy to make and that I just whipped them up, because they aren't - they are finicky little bastards. Breathe on them wrong and they will fail. Over mix the batter, and they spread everywhere. Don't rest them long enough, and they will crack all over the show. Over whip the meringue, and they will look great, but taste like sweet failure when you bite into one and realise that they are hollow AF. BUT when you nail them, it is an amazing feeling, and you look like a total pro. I just don't mention all the failed batches that came before this one. 

However I am hoping that all the disasters I have had in the past (trust me, there's been a lot - if there is a way to fail at macarons, I have done it), will make for a post that can hopefully prevent some of them happening for you! It's important to remember that these ARE tricky, and they do take a little bit of practice with technique and knowing how far to take the batter, but they are fun to make, and once you have them sussed, you should be away laughing.

I wanted the first macaron recipe that I posted to be a wee nod to my childhood. These macs are inspired by a biscuit (cookie) I ate growing up - hundreds and thousands biscuits. They are a vanilla biscuit, covered in a pink icing, and loaded up with hundreds and thousands (nonpareils). They don't really have a distinctive flavour aside from just being sweet, which I think is probably half the appeal. I replicated the biscuit with a pink shell, and added some sprinkles just after I piped them out. I then filled them with an american buttercream, also "pink" flavour. Usually I wouldn't use an american buttercream in almost any situation, but the slight crust that it gets is perfect for replicating the texture of the biscuits. So here we have it - a hundreds and thousands macaron! Or, a vanilla macaron, coloured pink, with sprinkles. You decide what to call it.

A few wee tips:

  • This is essentially just a vanilla macaron recipe! You can colour it any way you like, leave off the sprinkles, or fill it with whatever flavour you like!

  • If you don't have a kitchen scale, then you need to get one ASAP - these are finicky as they are, and grams are by far the most accurate way to bake. I haven't included a cup conversion in this recipe for that exact reason - I don't feel comfortable giving a recipe that could be thrown off by how tightly packed your cup of almond meal is, or how big your eggs are.

  • Macarons are tricky. They take practice. Don't feel disheartened if they don't work the first time (or even the second time!), they still taste super yum. Take lots of notes. Work out what works for you. Play around with baking time and oven temperature. Its all about finding the good balance. This is the recipe that works for me - hopefully it works for you too! There's so many different recipes floating round on the internet.

  • Invest in an oven thermometer if you haven't already. I calibrated my oven a while back and it's made a huge difference to the consistency of my oven.

  • Watch lots of videos. This is one of my favourites - the recipe is different but the technique is the same. It can be tricky to judge how far to take the meringue and then again how far to take the batter, so a visual guide is best, for me at least.

  • I had a few batches that weren't turning out perfectly circular like I wanted them to, and realised it was from the banging of the pans to help them settle. Too much banging was unevenly distributing the batter, so when it baked they would come out a little oval. I found that giving the batter just a few extra turns meant that less banging was required, and therefore less chance of oval macarons!

  • Oval macarons can also be due to a draft in the room from the air con. Make sure the room doesn't have any and this should hopefully remove the issue of oval macs!

  • Doubling up on sheet pans makes a huge difference in the baking process - it helps to keep the distribution of heat nice and even. Jase found that heating the pan in the oven before you add the one with the macs helps with the lift, which I noticed too - the first batch (on the cool pan) would always rise less than the second and third which were on a heated pan, so, heat your double up pan!

  • I had some issues with my macarons being hollow, and discovered it was from over whipping the meringue (Which I didn't realise that I was doing!) You want it to be nice and stiff, but not too dry.

  • All kinds of things can go wrong with macs. I have experienced almost all of them, so if they happen to you don't sweat it, you're not alone. I used this site to troubleshoot, but the main solution was just to keep at it and keep trying.

  • I also had some issues with the macs sticking a little to the parchment paper (I have had much better luck with paper than silpat), even though they were cooked. My friend who is a pastry chef suggested that if this happens, then you can freeze them, still attached to the paper, for 5-10 minutes, and they usually peel right off! Update on this: We also discovered an amazing parchment - and haven't had a single mac stick since we started using it. It's a non-stick parchment paper - we used this one.

  • It can be a little tricky to check if they are done. There is a fine line between having the shells set, and the feet set and stable, and overbaking and giving them colour, which you don't want. I like to very gently press on the top of one of the shells, and if the foot stays stable, then I know that it is well on the way to being done. If it is not quite there, I give it extra time, checking every minute.

  • I was originally grinding the almond meal and powdered sugar together, but then realised it really only needed sifting, I just had the wrong sized sieve! You want one with a medium sized mesh (I ordered this one), and make sure you sift twice to remove any big lumps and aerate the mixture.

  • If you need a template, print two of these and stick them together to use as a guide.

  • If you have any questions please feel free to pop them down below - I will update this section as I try more things and learn what works the best!

 

 

Hundreds and Thousands Macarons

- Makes about 24 sandwiched macarons -

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

Macaron Shells
170g ground almonds
300g powdered sugar
180g egg whites, at room temperature
160g sugar
A few drops of pink gel food colouring
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Hundreds and Thousands Sprinkles, (Nonpareils) to finish

American Buttercream Filling
225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
pinch of salt
500g (4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
2-3 Tbsp whole milk, as needed
Pink gel food colouring

 

- PROCESS -

MACARON SHELLS

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 pink gel food colour 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. Sprinkle the tops of the macarons with the hundreds and thousands sprinkles. 

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. 

AMERICAN BUTTERCREAM FILLING

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter, vanilla bean paste and salt until pale and creamy. Sift in the powdered sugar, and mix on medium speed until well combined. If needed, add milk a tablespoon at a time, until the frosting is light and fluffy, and a pipeable consistency. Add gel food colouring until the desired colour is reached. Transfer to a bag fitted with a large french star tip (I used an ateco #866).

ASSEMBLY

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.

Hundreds and Thousands Macarons - a grown up version of a childhood treat. Vanilla shells, sprinkled with hundreds and thousands, and sandwiched with an american buttercream for the perfect nostalgic treat.

Galaxy cupcakes


 

I made these wee things ages ago for a friend's studio opening and they were a giant hit. I've been asked a few times for the recipe so thought I might as well pop it up here! I had seen something similar on the internet a while back and decided to give it a try! They would be amazing for a children's birthday party, or anything space themed. You can also use the same technique with different colours for a non 'galaxy' look - I have done it with pastels before and it looks amazing! 

The first time that we made them, Richard was given the job of colouring the icing. I didn't realise that he had gone hard on the black food colouring until everyone who ate a cupcake ended up with black teeth. Thankfully nobody minded. However I have tweaked the recipe slightly, using black cocoa powder in the black part of the icing rather than food colouring. If you can't get your hands on black cocoa powder (its just super dutched cocoa, the stuff that they use to make oreos!), you can use black food colouring, just be aware that it takes a LOT to achieve a true 'black'. 

I went with a vanilla cupcake and an american buttercream. Normally I would use a swiss meringue buttercream for cupcakes, but I find that it never holds really vibrant colours as well as american, and for this I wanted them bright and strong. I made two batches of buttercream - one with the black cocoa, and one plain batch, which I divided into three and coloured with two shades of blue, and purple. 

Once they were piped, I covered them in flecks of white food colouring to represent "stars" - I just used my finger dipped in the colouring and flicked it on with my finger. I then sprinkled on a small amount of food safe glitter to give it a little sparkle. Make sure that you do this process somewhere that is fairly easy to clean up - the white tends to go everywhere, and the glitter is even worse. I generally turn a bowl upside down in the sink, then sit the whole cooling rack on top of it so that afterwards everything can be washed away. 

I used a vanilla cupcake recipe, but these really can be made with whatever you like. I also chose to make mini cupcakes, but feel free to make these whatever size you would like! 

 

 

Galaxy cupcakes
-Makes 24 mini cupcakes, or 12 large cupcakes-

Cupcake recipe adapted from Magnolia Bakery

Vanilla cupcakes
3/4 cup (94g) Self raising flour (or 3/4 cup flour, plus 1 1/4 tsp baking powder)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp (80g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (100g) sugar
1/2 cup (125ml) whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (113g) butter, cubed, at room temperature

Buttercream
1 cup (225g) butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups (440g) powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp (30-45ml) milk
Gel food colouring

Black buttercream
1/2 cup (113g) butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (190g) Powdered sugar
1/4 cup (25g) Black cocoa
1-2 Tbsp (15-30ml) milk

- PROCESS -

CUPCAKES

Preheat the oven to 350f/180c. Line a 24 hole mini cupcake tin with liners.

Place flours and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low for two minutes, then add the butter a cube at a time. Do not rush. Mix until it is the consistency of sand. Add half the milk and vanilla, and mix until combined, approximately one minute. 

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the remainder of the milk, and mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes until well incorporated. 

Divide the batter between the liners, with approximately 1 tbsp of batter in each. Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the cupcake springs back when pressed lightly. Cool completely on a wire rack.

PLAIN BUTTERCREAM

Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high until light in colour. Add sifted powder sugar and vanilla, and beat on high until well incorporated. Add milk a tablespoon at a time and beat until it is a smooth and spreadable consistency. 

Divide the buttercream between three bowls, and tint each with the desired 'galaxy' colour using gel food colouring 

BLACK FOOD COLOURING

Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted a paddle attachment. Beat on high until light in colour. Add sifted powdered sugar, black cocoa and vanilla, and beat on high until well incorporated. Add milk a tablespoon a time until it is a smooth and spreadable consistency. 

ASSEMBLY

Fit a large piping bag with a closed star tip (A wilton 1M or 2D). Add the buttercream to the bag a tablespoon at a time, alternating each colour in buttercream until the bag is full. Pipe the buttercream onto each cupcake. Place a small amount of gel food colouring in a bowl, watered down if necessary. Using your finger, flick small amounts of the food colouring onto the cupcakes to simulate stars. Follow with a small sprinkle of edible glitter on each cupcake.