Guys today I have a very special recipe for you. I present my Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes with Matcha Cactus Macarons. My very own Christmas Cupcakes and Christmas Macarons to celebrate this season!
This is a long post. And a very long recipe. Don’t shy away. It took me just a couple of days making these, from waiting for the royal icing that I used to decorate the macarons to dry, and stuff like that.
But I will warn you, this is a labor of love all the way.
First question: Why Cactus Macarons for Christmas?
Well, that’s what my husband asked me anyway. But he was convinced after he saw the final results. During my labor of love and time making these Cupcakes, I don’t think he could quite comprehend why I was going with something unusual like a cactus instead of a little pine tree.
And the answer is: because pine trees for Christmas tree are too obvious. I don’t care for obvious.
Now Cactus Macarons for Christmas trees, that’s something you don’t see everyday. So much so that I couldn’t even find a template online to make the macaron shape. Which means I had to create my own. The download of the pdf with the template is available to you down below in the post, if you want to make your own Cactus Macarons.
Alright, enough with the introductions, let’s get to work, folks.
About the macarons. My Matcha Macarons recipe is one of my most visited pages here at P&T. And that post englobes a lot of tips on how to make macarons. Besides that, I have many other posts with awesome tips about making macarons, check out my Macarons recipe section.
So here I will just give you some tips on how to make the shape of the cactus, etc.
First, here are the templates for the cactus macarons. You will need two different templates, because you will need to make them mirrored so you’ll be able to make the cactus macaron sandwiches.
When you print your templates, you can place them under the parchment paper like this.
We will be using two different tips to pipe the macaron batter onto the parchment. Wilton No. 2A and Wilton Piping Tip 12. The large 2A will be used for the body of the cactus and the smaller one will be used for the arms.
So go ahead and line your bags with those tips. When you divide the batter before piping, simply place a little bit more batter in the bag with the large 2A tip, because you will use a bit more batter for the body of the cactus macaron.
After you got your batter to the perfect consistency (check tips down below on the recipe area), you may start piping.
We will start piping the body first.
Pipe some batter on the area that’s correspondent to the body. And now you will use a toothpick to smooth the batter out and spread it out to the edges. Might take a couple of macarons to get this right.
What I did is that after each cactus body I piped, I smoothed it out with the toothpick, if you pipe too many, the batter will quickly start to dry out and it will be impossible to get it to spread out to the edges. It is more time consuming going one by one, but trust me on this one.
HELPFUL TIP: You want to make sure the batter that’s not being used is covered at all times. So after you are done making the batter, spoon it inside your bags, and close the bags at the ends, so the batter isn’t exposed, because it will take a while to pipe and smooth out all macarons.
Use the smaller tip to pipe the arms, I piped a small dollop of batter and then used the toothpick to smooth it out to the edges.
Now, after this major labor of love, you can let your babies rest while your oven pre-heats.
After baking, cooling, making the Matcha Buttercream, you may proceed with filling the macarons.
And then, place the other half on top of the Cactus Macarons.
Some of my cactus macarons ended up with some air bubbles, because I didn’t tap my trays enough during the process of piping the batter.
HELPFUL TIP: You might want to slam the trays against the counter a few times in between piping, since piping takes so long, and macarons might start to dry on the surface before you are done piping all the cactus in one tray, and then when you finally do tap the tray against the counter, the air bubbles will already be trapped inside.
Now let’s talk about the beautiful Christmas decoration I made for my macarons.
I used the Royal Icing recipe by Sally’s Baking Addiction to make the white ruffles and the pink (reddish?) Christmas balls.
After piping the ruffles, I let them dry slightly and then piped the Christmas balls.
At this point, I let the macarons dry before proceeding, otherwise I would ruin the royal icing decoration while managing the macarons.
Anyway, once the decoration is a bit dry, you may proceed with the next step.
You will need toothpicks, a piece of yellow fondant, and a little star cutter. I used the small star cutter in this kit.
First, place the toothpick in the macaron, on the top, through the middle, like this.
And then you may carefully place the star on top of the cactus macaron.
Now, place a toothpick on the bottom of the macaron, so the cactus macaron can be places safely on top of the cupcake, without the risk of falling.
And voila you are done!
It’s a lot of steps, but if you are the type that likes to have great baking projects, then this one is for you, my friend.
And tell me they aren’t worth it. To me they were, times 10.
Now, about the filling, I did fill my cupcakes with the matcha buttercream as well. If you don’t want to fill your cupcakes with the matcha buttercream, you can leave it plain, but reduce the amount of buttercream in the recipe, you can go with the amounts used in the original Matcha Macarons recipe.
But just so you know, this is what you’ll be missing out on… Tell me these Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes with Matcha Cactus Macarons aren’t so beautiful!!!
Thank you so much for reading my blog post, which is probably my biggest post so far. Please find attached the links to the cactus macaron templates up above on the post. Any questions about any of my recipes, always feel free to drop a comment down below, or message me on instagram.
Have a lovely day and I hope you enjoyed my Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes with Matcha Cactus Macarons, Christmas edition.
Chocolate Matcha Cupcakes with Matcha Cactus Macarons
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 190 grams 6.75 oz
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 31 grams 1.125 oz
- 1 cup granulated sugar 200 grams 7 oz.
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup brewed coffee
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup canola oil 107 grams 3.8 oz
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate chopped 56 grams, 2 oz
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar 191 grams, 6.75 oz
- 1 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened 113 grams, 4 oz
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2-3 tablespoons milk
- 3 egg whites 90-120 grams, depends on the size of your egg
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar 100 grams
- 1 cup almond flour 96 grams
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar 90 grams
- 1/2 tablespoon matcha powder
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature (170 grams, 6 oz)
- 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar 191 grams, 6.75 oz
- 2 teaspoon of matcha powder or more it’s up to how strong you’d like your buttercream to be
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pre-heat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cupcake pan with cupcake liners or grease it with butter and flour.
- Sift flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
- In another bowl, mix coffee, vinegar, vanilla and oil. Pour dry mixture over wet ingredients. Whisk briefly, until incorporated. Be careful not to overmix. As soon as you see no more streaks of dry mixture, stop whisking.
- Distribute batter evenly in cupcake pans.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
- Remove and let it cool.
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
- Start by melting the chopped dark chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler. Make sure to chop the chocolate finely, so it’s easier to melt it.
- Let it cool until it isn’t warm to the touch any longer.
- While the chocolate cools down, you can gather the rest of the ingredients.
- Sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder together. Set aside.
- Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.
- Cream butter for about 2 minutes on medium speed.
- Turn mixer off, add sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder to the bowl.
- Turn mixer on low to combine the ingredients together.
- Once they are combined, you can turn the speed up. Cream on medium high for about 30 seconds.
- Add melted chocolate, mix until combined.
- Add vanilla, milk and cream frosting on medium high for 45 seconds.
- Check for consistency. If frosting is too thick and dry, add a bit more milk, about 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing in between.
- If the mixture is too runny, there might be two options. You may either add some more sifted powdered sugar. Or it may be the case that your butter or chocolate were too warm when you made the frosting, or your kitchen might be too warm. In this situation, you want to cover your frosting bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for a few minutes, about 10 or so. Cream frosting again, and check for the consistency.
- Before you start, get all of your ingredients ready.
- Prepare a large piping bag, fitted with a large round tip.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mat.
- Under my parchment, I put a layout with my cactus that you can find above on the post.
- Measure out all of your ingredients.
- Now you can finally start.
- Place egg whites and granulated sugar in a heat proof bowl or in a double boiler. Over a pan of simmering water, whisk the whites and sugar until frothy and sugar completely melted. It will take a couple minutes.
- Make sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the simmering water.
- Transfer mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. (I use my kitchenAid bowl when doing this, because it makes it easier)
- With the whisk attachment, whisk mixture on high speed for a few minutes until stiff peaks are formed.
- Best way to check this is to keep your eye on the whites. Once they get glossy and you start seeing streaks formed by the whisk, it might be time to stop.
- You don’t want to overbeat the mixture at this point, because you don’t want to add too much air to it. Just whisk until stiff peaks have formed.
- Sift powdered sugar, almond flour and matcha together.
- Pour into stiff whites.
- Start folding gently forming a letter J with a spatula.
- It’s time to stop folding when the batter is glossy and has a thick and flowing consistency. There are several ways to test this, and you might have to have a couple failed batches before you get this right.
- First, grab a spatula full of batter and pull it up at a 90 degree angle on top of the bowl, then you start drawing a figure 8 in the air with the dripping batter. And if you can draw a few number 8s with the flowing batter, without having it break apart, that means your batter is probably ready, or close to being ready.
- Then, I grab a teaspoon of batter and spoon onto my parchment paper or silicon mat.
- If the batter stays stiff and doesn’t spread out a bit, I start folding a little bit more, about 3 folds.
- Test again.
- Once the batter spreads out a bit and starts to look glossy on the parchment paper, I transfer my mixture to the piping bag.
- You don’t want your batter to be too runny either. So be careful not to overmix. It’s always best to undermix and test several times until the proper consistency has been achieved.
- This is the most important part about making macarons in my opinion.
- To pipe the cactus macarons I used two different tips, a round Wilton 12, and a round Wilton 2A. The large tip (the 2A) I used to pipe the body of the cactus, and the smaller one (tip 12) I used to pipe the arms.
- When you pipe the macarons, you will need to use a toothpick to spread the batter around to fit the whole cactus shape. Check the post above for picture instructions.
- Once you’ve piped as many cactus macarons as you can, bang the trays against the counter a few times each. This will release air bubbles that are in the batter and prevent your macaron shells from cracking.
- Let your trays sit for a while so the shells will dry out a little bit. I usually leave about 20-40 minutes, depending on how humid the day is. You’ll know they’re ready when you gently touch the surface of a macaron and it seems dry.
- Pre-heat the oven to 325F.
- Bake one tray at a time.
- Bake for 4 minutes, rotate tray.
- Bake for 4 more minutes, check if it needs to be rotated again. You will know if it needs to be rotated again depending on how the macarons are baking. Take a look at them, if one side seems taller then the other, maybe you have to rotate the tray again.
- Bake for around 2-4 more minutes. Really keep an eye out, not to overbake.
- When baked, the macarons will have a deeper color and formed feet.
- Remove from the oven and bake the other tray.
- Let the macarons cool down before proceeding with the filling.
- Some of the Matcha Buttercream will be used to pipe inside the cupcakes, and some will be used as the filling for the macarons.
- Start by Sift powdered sugar and matcha powder together. Set aside.
- Cream butter on medium speed, until creamy, for about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and matcha and beat until mixture is fluffy and incorporated, another minute. If mixture seems too stiff, add one or two teaspoons of milk. If it seems too runny, add one or two teaspoons of powdered sugar.
- Add vanilla extract and mix for 30 seconds to combine.
To assemble Cactus Macarons
- Put filling in prepared piping bag. Pipe some filling in each macaron and close the sandwich. You are looking for the proportions of 2:1 cookie:filling
- On the post above I mention the recipe I used for the royal icing, to make the decorations on my macarons. For the star on top, I simply used a piece of fondant from Wilton brand, rolled out and cut into stars.
To assemble Cupcakes
- Use a spoon to remove the center of the cupcakes. Fill them with Matcha Buttercream.
- Frost with the Chocolate Frosting.
- Sprinkle some dried coconut flakes to resemble snow.
- Place the Cactus Macaron on top. Voila.