I love to hate on these panda macarons. Not only were they a bit tricky to knuckle down involving lots of trialling and erroring, they also trigger my GBBO PTSD, oh the LOLZ. But I do love them really as plain ol' macs are everywhere and these cuties aren't.
To pair my panda macarons I've made a matcha and chocolate cake with coconut buttercream. It's a delicious flavour combination, and even if you don't like matcha, you'll like this. Now if you also don't like chocolate and coconut, then obvs there's little chance in hell that you'll like this but I'm hoping you're in the minority on the planet and that most people will DIG THIS. It's chocolatey, sweet and coconutty, and with a hint of vanilla-smokeyness of the matcha green tea.
And the layers look STUNNING!
The panda macarons are lovely by themselves but they do pop on a cake so you may like to take on this project in its entirety. But be warned, this cake is INVOLVED. By involved I mean, nope, you can't just whip it up in a spare hour here or there. I would advice making the macarons on one day, as they take a couple of hours and are best resting overnight, and the rest of the cake the next day.
In terms of equipment, it's a small list but you will need a stand mixer, sugar thermometer, turntable, palette knife and piping tips. They're all linked in my Amazon shop in a handy list so do click through to look at what you'll need.
Panda Macaron Cake Recipe
150g ground almonds
150g icing sugar
150g caster sugar
110g egg whites, room temp
Black gel paste food colour (Sugarflair brand)
White gel paste food colour (Sugarflair brand)
1. Pulse the ground almonds and icing sugar together in a food processor for 10 seconds and sift them into a mixing bowl.
2. Pour 55g of the egg whites into the almond-sugar mix and mix well with a rubber spatula till you get a stiff but evenly mixed dough. Cover with cling film.
3. Pour the remaining 55g of egg whites into a stand mixer bowl and whip with whisk attachment on medium speed. Simultaneously, pour the 35g measure of water and the caster sugar into a small saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat. When the temperature reached 115 degrees, increase the stand mixer speed to high. Once the syrup reaches 118 degrees, take the saucepan off the heat, reduce the speed of the stand mixer and pour the syrup slowly down the side of the stand mixer bowl. Once the syrup has been poured in increase the speed of the mixer to high and whisk till you get a stiff meringue that leaves a strong beak on the whisk attachment (it takes about 6-8 minutes to get there).
4. Take a third of the meringue and fold into the almond dough to loosen it. Add in the rest of the meringue and fold till you reach an even, glossy mixture which falls off like thick ribbons from the spatula. Do not overfold.
5. Take 3 tablespoons of the batter and place it in a small bowl with half a teaspoon of black gel paste. Fold and mix in the colour with the spatula.
6. Cut a few pieces of parchment paper to the size of your baking trays and trace evenly spaced 3cm circles on the underside with a marker. Fit a medium round piping nozzle (eg: Jem 1R) and a small round piping nozzle (eg: Ateco 7) to two piping bags and fill the small nozzle bag with the black macaron batter, and the medium nozzle bag with half of the white macaron batter.
7. Piping the panda faces: Place a parchment paper template on a baking tray. Pipe small black dots on either side of the traced circles towards the top third section of each circle.
Once they are piped, pipe white batter inside the circles to a count of 3 and pull away. The white batter will spread slowly and join the black batter to make the panda head.
Using the black batter, pipe the eyes and nose on each panda head to makes panda faces.
8. Piping the panda bums: Place a parchment paper template on a baking tray. Pipe white batter inside the circles to a count of 3 and pull away. Using the black batter, pipe a small dot on each white circle for the panda tails.
9. Keep piping any leftover over batter over spare lined trays. Once they are all piped, let them rest for 30 minutes whilst pre-heating the oven to 140 degrees Celcius. Bake for 14 minutes. Let cool to room temp. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium round nozzle and pipe dollops of any filling of your choice (or coconut Swiss meringue buttercream) on each of the undersides of the panda bums. Sandwich with the panda faces.
10. Using a fine paintbrush, paint dots on the eye patches with white gel paste for the eyes. Let dry and then paint a tiny black dot in each eye. You can even draw little smiley or sad faces on your macarons!
Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
240g egg whites
360g granulated or caster sugar
500g butter, room temp
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
200g creamed coconut
2 tsp coconut extract
Pinch of salt
1) Place egg whites and sugar in a clean stand mixer bowl with no traces of fat over a simmering saucepan of water over medium heat. The water in the saucepan should not touch the bottom of the bowl. Whisk with a hand whisk until all sugar is dissolved, the mixture is frothy and has reached 60 degrees C or is hot to touch.
2) Place the stand mixer bowl into the stand mixer and whisk on high speed with whisk attachment until the mixture has reached glossy stiff peaks and the bowl is cool to touch. This is now the Swiss meringue base.
3) Add in vanilla, salt and softened butter on low speed till all combined. The mixture will look splitty/curdled - Don't panic! Increase the speed to high and beat till it all comes together as a smooth and silky buttercream (takes about 5-8 minutes to reach this stage). Add in the coconut cream and coconut extract and whisk till well combined.
Matcha Sponge Recipe
250g caster sugar
80ml oil (any neutral oil, eg: vegetable or sunflower)
2 eggs (medium, or a mix)
1 tsp vanilla extract
80g yoghurt (full, low, or fat-free)
230g all-purpose plain flour, sifted
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tbsp matcha powder
Pinch of salt
200ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius and prepare two 6" round cake tins by greasing well with oil or butter and sprinkling an even layer of flour over.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, oil and sugar until light.
3. Stir in the yoghurt (or buttermilk) slowly to combine.
4. Add in the dry ingredients, matcha powder, milk and vanilla gradually and beat until just combined.
5. Pour the coloured batters into the prepared cake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
6. Once baked, pull the tins out of the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before releasing the sponges from the tins and letting cool completely on a wire rack.
7. Once cooled, trim the tops for even layers with a bread knife or cake leveller and torte into 3-4 even layers and wrap in cling film until needed for decorating.
Chocolate Sponge Recipe
230g self raising flour, sifted
5 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
3 tsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp baking soda
200g caster sugar
3 eggs (medium), lightly beaten
200ml oil (vegetable or sunflower)
3 tbsp golden syrup
1. Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees celsius and prepare three 6 inch round cake tins by greasing with butter and a light even dusting of flour.
2. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and sugar and mix well.
3. Dissolve the coffee granules in the milk and add into the dry ingredients along with the oil, eggs and golden syrup. Whisk the batter till well mixed and just until no lumps remain.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the cake tins and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
5. Once baked, bring them out of the oven and let the sponges rest in their tins for around 10-15 minutes before releasing them and cooling to room temperature on wire racks.
6. Once cooled, trim the tops for even layers with a bread knife or cake leveller and torte into 3-4 even layers and wrap in cling film until needed for decorating.
Decorating The Panda Macaron Cake
100g desiccated coconut
2 tsp matcha powder
1) Smear a dollop of icing in the centre of an 8" cake board using a cranked palette knife. Place a chocolate sponge layer in the middle and smooth a layer of coconut buttercream over it.
2) Sandwich and build up the layers with buttercream, alternating with matcha and chocolate sponges until the last sponge layer has buttercream smoothed over. Crumb coat the outer edges of the cake with buttercream, smoothing with the edge of the palette knife or a cake scraper. Chill in the fridge to set for 10-15 minutes.
3) Smooth another layer of coconut buttercream all over and smooth using the edge of the palette knife or cake scraper. A decorating turn-table helps with getting a super smooth finishing.
Coat the cake with the desiccated coconut gently using clean hands all around and sprinkle evenly over the top.
4) Fit a medium star nozzle of your choice to a piping bag (my handy set of nozzles from Jem is great).
Mix matcha powder into a cup of buttercream and pipe swirls and whirls over the cake.
5) Place your Panda macarons on the swirls and gaze at your creation in marvel (or hang your head in shame...depending on how the project went for you!).
I told you...this cake is INVOLVED. It looks simple (yet super cool) but is complex because of not just the macarons, but the various other elements such as the coconut buttercream, chocolate and matcha sponge layers. You can simplify it by using any buttercream of your choice (doesn't have to be Swiss meringue), and just the one flavour of sponge, but as long as you don't stress out over it and leave yourself time you will be SO happy with what you've made.
The full list of my equipment etc is linked in my Amazon shop and if you have any questions, pop em in comments. Please do tag me over on Instagram @angesdesucre #angesdesucre with your delightful or disastrous attempt and let me celebrate/commiserate with you! God knows I've had a fair few disasters myself, oh the lolz.
Oh, and no, this cake will not be available to order because it costs £1,500,000 to get me to make it but you can order our other super cute Kung Fu Panda cake that now seems like a bargain in comparison ;).
Lots of panda love,