This “cake” is inspired by my youngest niece, Lucy, who requests French macarons rather than cake every year for her birthday (and has since she was maybe 4 years old). I wanted to design a sliceable cake for her, made out of extra-large macaron shells. Piped 6-inches-wide, these layers get a generous topping of sprinkles before heading into the oven. After baking, they are sandwiched together with an ultra-creamy cake batter-flavored filling with (you guessed it!) more sprinkles. The cake can be eaten immediately after it’s assembled, but I prefer to let it sit in the fridge overnight, which softens the layers of the macaron to make them easy to slice and get a fork through. This way, they’re perfectly soft, chewy, and creamy (not to mention, gluten-free). The same recipe can be used to make two giant macaron shells for a sliceable version of the classic sandwich cookie (see the Variations section below). —Erin Jeanne McDowell
- Prep time 2 hours 30 minutes
- Cook time 40 minutes
- makes one 6-inch cake
- Macaron Shells
2 1/2 cups
(250g) finely ground almond flour
3 1/3 cups
(376g) powdered sugar
(4g) fine sea salt
large (213g) egg whites
(198g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons
(6g) vanilla extract
- Cake Batter Frosting
1 1/4 cups
(10 oz / 285g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
(454g) powdered sugar
(226g) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
(78g) heavy cream
(10g) vanilla extract
(2g) fine sea salt
(150g) confetti style sprinkles, plus more for finishing
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (use your flattest ones). Use a 6-inch cake pan (or a small plate, hand-cut stencil, or similar) to trace rounds onto the parchment paper—you should be able to fit two circles on each baking sheet, for 4 total. Turn the parchment paper over so the ink won’t touch the batter when you pipe onto the paper. Fit a pastry bag with a large round tip (such as 803/804/805).
- Make the macaron shells: Sift the almond flour, powdered sugar, and salt together into a medium bowl. Repeat 1 to 2 more times—you’re trying to eliminate clumps, combine the dry ingredients, and also aerate this mixture. (If any rogue clumps of almond flour remain that won’t fit through the strainer even when coerced, discard them.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a large bowl and a hand mixer), whip the egg whites on medium speed until slightly foamy, 30 to 45 seconds. Raise the mixer speed to high and gradually add the granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream. Continue whipping until the meringue holds stiff peaks, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
- Remove the meringue from the mixer. Add about half of the almond flour mixture to the bowl and start to mix with a silicone spatula to combine. It’s OK to mix the batter a bit more vigorously at this stage—you’re sort of “tempering” the batter with the dry ingredients, which will make it easier to incorporate the remainder. You’re also intentionally starting to deflate the batter to get it close to the ideal texture.
- Add the remaining almond flour mixture to the batter, and fold gently to incorporate with a silicone spatula. Move the spatula around the outside of the bowl in a circular motion, then cut through the center and repeat. Rotate the bowl as you fold to keep working with all the batter evenly. The goal is to end up with a batter the consistency of “lava”—it should hold its shape when dropped from the spatula but slowly spread and lose definition (in other words: thick, but not so thick it holds any peaks).
- Gently transfer the batter to the prepared piping bag (filling it just over halfway full). Pipe the batter onto the prepared baking sheets using the guides to keep them evenly sized. Hold the pastry bag parallel to the baking sheet and begin to apply pressure, allowing the batter to flow out of the tip into a fluid round. Stop applying pressure just before you reach the end of your guide. Repeat to make 4 large macaron shells, refilling the pastry bag as needed.
- Gently tap the baking sheets on the countertop—this should smooth out the surface of the macaron and spread it slightly. If desired, use a needle or skewer to pop any visible bubbles on the surface of the macarons. Sprinkle confetti sprinkles generously on the surface of each cookie.
- Let the macarons rest at room temperature until they form a skin on the surface, about 1-2 hours (it can take less time in a dry environment, longer in a more humid one). Towards the end of rest time, preheat the oven to 300°F with your oven rack in the center portion of the oven. (I bake one tray at a time because they are so finicky, but if your oven can handle it, you can bake both trays at once.)
- Bake the macarons until they have risen, forming a foot on the bottom, and the surface of the cookies is shiny, dry, and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Once baked, cool the macarons completely on the baking sheet. (The shells can be carefully stored in an airtight container, layers separated by pieces of parchment paper, and frozen for up to 3 months. When you’re ready, assemble the macarons using frozen cookies, then refrigerate overnight before serving.)
- Make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mascarpone, mixing on medium speed to combine, then the cream, vanilla, and salt, mixing to combine.
- Fold the sprinkles into the frosting. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large round or star tip. When they are cool, gently peel the macarons off of the parchment paper.
- Pipe a generous mound of frosting onto the center of a cake stand or serving plate. Place one of the macaron in the center, and press down gently to adhere.
- Pipe filling over the surface of the cookie. Because this is a “naked” cake, where the layers are visible from the side, I usually like to pipe an attractive border style around the outer edge of the cookie, leaving about ¼-inch of the outside edge uncovered. Place the next cookie “layer” on top and press down gently. Repeat until you get to the final cookie. Decorate the top of the cookie as desired with the remaining frosting, and finish with more sprinkles.
- To soften the cake and make it more easily sliceable, cover it loosely and refrigerate the cake overnight. (The assembled cake can also be frozen, tightly wrapped in multiple layers for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.)
Variation: Giant Sliceable Macaron:
In step 1, trace a 9-inch round onto the parchment paper on each tray, and use this as the guide for piping the batter. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Fill with fillings/frostings of choice (the frosting in this recipe or any filling recipe for standard-size macarons should work great here).