Hold the candles and grab your party hats: these Birthday Cake Macarons put the FUN in funfetti! Delicate French meringues are filled with a white chocolate cream cheese frosting peppered with colorful sprinkles for a dainty and delicious celebratory sweet.
About This Recipe
I don’t know about you, but I ADORE birthdays. They are the perfect opportunity to celebrate the people you love, and they are far less stressful than the holidays when everything seems to happen all at once.
These Birthday Cake Macarons are the perfect thing to gift — they look gorgeous in a box, they are beautifully tender, chewy, and lightly crisp all at the same time, and they just so happen to be gluten-free, making them an excellent choice for your gluten-averse friends.
French macarons are a simple and elegant dessert, so even though you’re making these in the style of a funfetti cake, they’re fancy enough to serve to your most prestigious, raised-pinky peeps. They also have a unicorn-esque flair, so they’d be equally welcome at a 3-year-old’s party.
If you want to be extra extra, you can also use these preciously pretty-in-pink beauties to decorate a funfetti flavored layer cake!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Making pâtisserie-worthy Birthday Cake Macarons requires just ten (10!!) easy-to-find ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
For the Macaron Shells:
- Granulated Sugar - Don’t try swapping in brown sugar here; the moisture content is too high and can result in macaron shells that don’t have a foot.
- Blanched Almond Flour - Blanched is the key word here. It may seem fussy, but I usually reach for blanched almond flour; this means the skins of the almonds have been removed prior to processing, which results in a smoother, even colored macaron.
- Egg Whites - It’s best if your eggs are at room temperature in order to fully whip to stiff peaks. Also, be sure that you don’t let any egg yolks get into the whites - the added fat will prevent them from achieving stiff peaks. Finally, make sure you are not using the egg whites that come in a carton!
- Powdered Sugar - While some French macaron recipes call for a stabilizer known as cream of tartar, I find that using powdered sugar does just as well because of the addition of cornstarch.
- Gel Food Coloring (OPTIONAL) - Gel food coloring has more pigment with less liquid, which is just what we want for delicate macarons. I used just a drop of red gel to give these beauties their blush hue.
For the filling:
- White Chocolate - Make sure to grab high-quality white chocolate that lists cocoa butter as the primary ingredient.
- Cream Cheese - Go for full-fat cream cheese here; it’s a party, after all!
- Unsalted Butter - Try to use grass-fed, organic, and/or cultured butter for the best flavor. Feel free to swap in your favorite plant-based substitute if you prefer.
- Vanilla Bean Paste - I love the tiny black flecks of vanilla beans in this frosting – it just feels so special! Vanilla paste is the least expensive means of getting the effect, but you can also feel free to swap in vanilla extract, powder, or actual vanilla beans if you prefer.
- Confectioner’s Sugar - If you don’t have any on hand, you can easily whip some up with a food processor, white sugar, and some cornstarch.
- Sprinkles - If possible, reach for the smaller, round sprinkles that are often labeled as non-pareils. They hold their crunch better, and their size is more appropriate for these dainty little treats.
These funfetti flavored Birthday Cake Macarons require a bit more equipment than some of my other recipes because they are highly technical. Here are the essentials:
- Electric Mixer With Whisk And Paddle Attachments - If you have one, I highly recommend going the stand mixer route here; getting those elusive stiff peaks in your egg whites and an extra creamy consistency in your buttercream takes some time. In a pinch, a hand mixer will work, but you won’t be able to multitask as efficiently. If you don’t have a stand mixer, at least use a hand mixer.
- Food Processor - Ensuring that your ingredients are finely processed means you have a much better chance of having perfectly smooth, perfect macarons.
- Mesh Strainer - Sifting is another step you don’t want to miss when you’re making these plum macarons; any large chunks that were missed in the food processor will not make it through the strainer. This means you don't have to worry about any unsightly blemishes.
- Sheet Pans - If you haven’t yet, I recommend investing in some good (read: unwarped) cookie trays.
- Parchment or Silpat - I personally like to make myself a little template when I’m making macarons to ensure that they end up round and of the same size. I draw on a piece of parchment paper using a small 1” lid or biscuit cutter as my guide. If you prefer to have something ready to go, Silpat makes a macaron mat that has handy guides printed right on it.
- Piping Bags and Tips - Part of the allure of French macarons is their appearance, and piping bags and tips ensure that they are flawless, perfect circles. In a pinch, use a zip top plastic bag with the corner cut off, or wrap up some parchment into a piping bag.
- Use a scale AND an oven thermometer! The French baking tradition is an exacting art; proper tools will ensure perfect results every time.
How To Make Birthday Cake Macarons
I’m not going to lie here - this is a moderately difficult and somewhat lengthy recipe. Don’t lose faith, though! Simply follow along with the steps below and you’ll end up with a gorgeous plate of adorable birthday cake macarons.
Also, please note: each step can be completed on a separate day (or even a separate week!). Macaron shells and white chocolate cream cheese buttercream will each last for up to a month in the freezer.
Step 1: Make Macaron Shells
As with many baking recipes, you’ll have both wet and dry ingredients to work with. Don’t try to rush or combine any of these steps.
First, prep your materials. Line each baking sheet with your prepared parchment templates and prepare your piping bags along with your piping tips. I like to use a small, round piping tip for piping.
Prepare Egg Whites and Dry Ingredients
Pour your egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer and start whisking on medium speed. Once they start to foam, slowly add your sugar and bring up your speed to medium for about three to four minutes.
While your meringue is whisking away, grind together your measured powdered sugar and almond flour using a food processor for one minute. Sift these dry ingredients into a large bowl with a fine sieve and set aside.
Your meringue is complete when it holds stiff peaks. Add desired gel food coloring and gently whisk for a few additional seconds to incorporate.
Now it’s time for the ever so important Macaronage! This is the act of mixing your dry ingredients into your French meringue - the trick is to fold it well enough without overmixing.
To start, pour your dry mixture onto the meringue and slowly start to fold with a spatula. While rotating the bowl, continue to fold ingredients together. Your mixing is done when the batter flows off your spatula rather slowly and smoothly.
You should see the batter that has dripped back into the bowl rest on top for a moment before slowly sinking back into the mixture. One too many folds and your batter could be over-mixed (which makes it impossible to work with), so be careful not to overmix!
Pipe and Rest
Pour your macaron batter into the prepared piping bag and pipe in circles onto your templated parchment paper.
Tap your baking sheet firmly on a flat surface to remove air bubbles and ensure a smooth top. You can always use a toothpick to gently pop any extra air bubbles that you see hovering on top of your shells.
Allow the shells to rest for approximately 30 minutes - this is non-negotiable. You want a sort of skin to form on the surface of the macarons; once the top of your shells are dry to the touch they are ready to bake!
Place your macarons in your oven that has been preheated to 310 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 9 minutes, then rotate the baking tray and bake for an additional 2 minutes.
When you gently touch the upper shell and it barely moves, and the developed foot of the macaron stays set to the parchment paper, the macarons are done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing shells from the parchment paper.
Make Ahead Tip: Macaron shells that have been baked and fully cooled can be placed in an airtight container and frozen for up to a month with no discernible change in quality! Simply allow them to defrost for 10-15 minutes at room temperature before filling and eating.
Step 2: Make White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Cream butter: In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth with the paddle attachment.
Add sugar: Add approximately half of the powdered sugar and beat again. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the rest of the powdered sugar. Continue beating for a few minutes, scraping the sides as needed, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Add white chocolate: Finally, add the melted chocolate and vanilla - continue beating until the frosting is thick and fluffy. Fold in sprinkles until they are evenly distributed.
Make-Ahead Tip: This white chocolate cream cheese frosting can be made and refrigerated for up to a week in advance, or frozen for up to a month. Allow to come to room temperature before using for easy piping.
Step 3: Assembly
Once cooled, the shells will peel easily off of your parchment paper. Find each shell’s matching half and pipe approximately two teaspoons of buttercream to the bottom shell before adding a macaron shell on top.
Technically speaking, the filled macarons will taste the best after being allowed to rest in the refrigerator overnight. Macarons should remain refrigerated until ready to eat, and should be consumed within three days of filling.
- Use three cups for cracking your eggs. Even a speck of egg yolk can destroy the meringue, so it’s best to only work with one white at a time in case a yolk breaks. After you separate the yolk from the white, add the yolk to the yolk bowl and pour the freshly separated white into your mixing bowl.
- The easiest way to separate eggs is by using cold eggs (cold yolks don’t break as easily) and the fingers of your non-dominant hand. Crack the egg open with your dominant hand, then pour the contents into the slightly separated fingers of your non-dominant hand; your fingers should catch the yolks, and the whites will drip through.
- Don’t overmix the batter. Getting the whites to stiff peaks takes a lot of time; don’t ruin all of that amazing levity by overmixing! Be sure to be gentle, stopping when the batter runs off your spatula slowly, with the drips resting atop the rest of the batter for a few moments before sinking in.
- Tap for smooth exteriors. Tapping the baking sheet firmly on a flat surface will knock any excess bubbles out of the macarons. You can also just hold the pan a few inches above your work surface and drop it flatly. Any remaining bubbles can be popped using a toothpick.
- Rest the batter. Once the macarons are piped onto your baking tray, it is absolutely imperative that you rest the batter. While the shells are resting, they develop a skin over the top. This means that any air that is forced out while cooking must go through the bottom, creating the signature “foot” on a French macaron.
- Use scientific tools like an oven thermometer and a kitchen scale. Baking is always a scientific endeavor, and nothing could be more true of making French macarons.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I’m allergic to almonds? While traditional French macarons are made with almonds, you can certainly switch things up if you prefer. Pistachios are a great option, or you can use sesame seeds and ground tiger nuts if you prefer a nut-free version.
What’s the best way to decorate macarons? You can use gel-based food coloring to brighten up the macaron shells to whatever color you like or add sprinkles to the shells before the drying stage. You can also “paint” the baked macarons with some thinned-out food coloring, or use a bit of edible gold leaf if you’re into a little bling. Take a look at my Passion fruit macarons for tips on painting your macaron shells!
What should I make with my leftover egg yolks? I’m so glad you asked! Yolks are an amazing ingredient. Use them to make custards and ice cream; add an extra yolk to your cookies for a chewier texture; use them to make lemon or passionfruit curd (which you can then use to fill other macarons)... The options are nearly endless!
Storing and Freezing
Refrigerating: Allowing your completed macarons to sit overnight in the fridge allows for the best texture for consuming! If you have the patience, place your macarons in the fridge overnight and enjoy the following day.
Freezing: Macaron shells can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for a month and still taste as good as new! Take the frozen macarons out of the freezer and let them sit for 10-15 minutes before enjoying. In the fridge, filled macarons should be stored in an airtight container for no more than 3 days.
More Birthday Ready Treats
- Layered Lemon Cake with White Chocolate Frosting
- 3-Layer Poppyseed Lemon Cake with Berry Buttercream
- One-Pan Double Chocolate Cake with Fluffy Chocolate Buttercream
As always, I love seeing your creations and hearing from you! If you try making these Birthday Cake Macarons, please leave a review or share your creation with me on social media! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest - and for more delicious recipes sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter!
Birthday Cake Macarons
- Food Processor
- Fine Mesh Strainer
- Electric Mixer with Whisk & Paddle Attachment
- Parchment Paper
- Baking Tray
- Piping Bags & Piping Tips
- 76 g (⅓ cup + 1 teaspoon ) Granulated Sugar
- 90 ml (About 3 egg whites ) Room Temperature Egg Whites
- 80 g (¾ Cup + 1 Tbsp) Almond Flour, Blanched
- 150 g (1 ¼ Cup ) Powdered Sugar
- Gel Food Coloring , optional
Birthday Funfetti Frosting
- 60 g (¼ cup) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 60 g (¼ cup) Cream Cheese, room temperature
- 120 g (1 cups) Powdered Sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste, or vanilla extract
- 87 g (½ cup) White Chocolate, melted
- 50 g (¼ cup) Colorful Sprinkles
- Line each baking sheet with your prepared parchment templates and prepare your piping bags along with your piping tips. I like to use a small, round piping tips for piping.
- Pour your egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer and start whisking on medium speed. Once they start to foam, slowly add your sugar and bring up your speed to medium for about three to four minutes.76 g Granulated Sugar, 90 ml Room Temperature Egg Whites
- While your meringue is whisking away, grind together your measured powdered sugar and almond flour using a food processor for one minute. Sift these dry ingredients into a large bowl with a fine sieve and set aside.80 g Almond Flour, 150 g Powdered Sugar
- Your meringue is complete when it holds stiff peaks - add desired food coloring and gently whisk for a few additional seconds to incorporate,Gel Food Coloring
- Now it’s time for the ever so important Macaronage! This is the act of mixing your dry ingredients into your french meringue and folding these ingredients enough to allow for the perfect desired consistency. To start, pour your dry mixture onto the meringue and slowly start to fold with a spatula. While rotating the bowl, continue to fold ingredients together. Press mixture on the side of your bowl until the mixture of the batter flows off your spatula rather slowly and smoothly. You should see that the batter will drip off the spatula back into the bowl, and rest on top for a moment. Then, the batter from your spatula will slowly sink back into the mixture. One too many folds and your batter could be over mixed leading to it being impossible to work with, so be careful not to overmix!
- Pour your macaron batter into your prepared piping bag and pipe in circles onto your templated parchment paper. In order to get rid of any air bubbles within your piped shells and to even out your tops, tap your baking sheet firmly on a flat surface. You can always use a toothpick to gently pop any extra air bubbles that you see hovering on top of your shells. If you would like to add a few sprinkles to the top of your macaron shells now is the time to do so before the shells dry!
- Allow the shells to rest for approximately 30 minutes. Once the top of your shells are dry to the touch they are ready to bake!
- Place your macarons in your oven that has been preheated to 310 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 9 minutes, then rotate the baking tray and bake for an additional 2 minutes.
- You will know that your macarons are ready to remove from the oven when you gently touch the upper shell, and it barely moves, while the developed foot of the macaron stays set to the parchment paper. Remove from the oven to cool completely before removing shells from the parchment paper.
Birthday Funfetti Frosting
- In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.60 g Unsalted Butter, 60 g Cream Cheese
- Add approximately half of the powdered sugar and beat again. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the rest of the powdered sugar. Continue beating for a few minutes, scraping the sides as needed, until the mixture is smooth and creamy.120 g Powdered Sugar
- Finally, add the melted chocolate and vanilla - continue beating until the frosting is thick and fluffy. Fold in sprinkles until they are evenly distributed!1 teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste, 87 g White Chocolate, 50 g Colorful Sprinkles
- Once cooled, the shells will peel easily off of your parchment paper. Find each shell’s matching half and pipe approximately two teaspoons of buttercream to the bottom shell, using a piping tip and add the final macaron shell on top!
- Mise en place - Macarons are time-sensitive! Prepare your mise en place (meaning to set up your working space in preparation for an activity) before you get started so your ingredients and equipment are ready to go.
- Use a piping template - A foolproof way of making perfect macaron shells every time is to trace identical 1-inch diameter circles onto the parchment paper to use as your piping template.
- Use an oven thermometer - Baking the shells at the right temperature is important, so I highly recommend using an oven thermometer.
- Weigh the ingredients - While macarons only use 4 ingredients, if one isn’t measured correctly, your odds of macaron success are considerably lower. I highly recommend investing in a kitchen scale so everything is precise!
- Storing your macarons - Technically, allowing your completed macarons to sit overnight in the fridge allows for the best texture for consuming! If you have the patience, place your macarons in the fridge overnight and enjoy the following day. Macaron shells can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for a month and still taste as good as new! Take the frozen macarons out of the freezer and let them sit for 10-15 minutes before enjoying, In the fridge, filled macarons should be stored in an airtight container for no more than 3 days.
- Practice makes perfect - It’s no secret that making macarons can be tricky. Just keep practicing and experimenting with different macaron flavors, and you’ll be a pro in no time!