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a recipe for cranberry vanilla macaron cake, for Christmas and the holidays dairy and gluten free

Winter Cranberry Vanilla Macaron Cake

  • Author: Posh Little Designs
  • Prep Time: 45
  • Cook Time: 35
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 5" macaron shells + extra 2" shells 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Macarons
  • Diet: Gluten Free


Four crisp and chewy 5″ macaron shells, topped with vanilla bean frosting, sugared cranberries, and quick cranberry vanilla jam. Stacked to form a petite 5″ macaron cake that’s dairy & gluten-free.



  • 106 grams of almond meal
  • 106 grams powdered sugar
  • 41 and 45 grams of egg whites divided
  • 115 grams of granulated sugar
  • 79 grams of water
  • dash of cream of tartar or lemon juice for stabilizing


  • 1 piping bag fitted with piping tip of choice for frosting. Wilton 4B.
  • 1 piping bag fitted with a round tip (Wilton 12) for macaron batter.
  • 1 piping bag for cranberry jam
  • Sugared cranberries and optional edible gold paint.


  • 1 cups organic shortening or vegan butter (you can also use regular butter)
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • seeds from 1/4 vanilla bean
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of vanilla and a splash of non dairy milk.


  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raw organic sugar
  • Empty vanilla bean pod
  • 2 tsp pectin powder


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar (simple syrup)
  • 2 cups rinsed cranberries
  • 2 cups white sugar (for dusting cranberries)



  1. Wipe down the mixing bowl and whisk attachment with vinegar to remove any built up residue. This will ensure that the egg whites whisk up properly.
  2. Prep and measure all of the ingredients using a kitchen scale.
  3. Prep a piping bag with a round tip. Wilton tip 12.
  4. Line 2 baking sheets with silpat (or parchment).
  5. Combine measured almond meal & powdered sugar together in a bowl. Sift one time to remove any lumps, discarding of them, then mix together to break up clumps.
  6. Make a well in the center of the dry mix and pour the 41 grams of measured egg whites into the center of the dry mixture. Fold together until blended. The finished mix will be thick and paste-like. Set aside.
  7. For the sugar syrup:
  8. To make the sugar syrup, heat granulated sugar and water in a pot on medium heat with a candy thermometer attached to the side. **Make sure the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pot so the temp measures properly**.
  9. Once the thermometer’s temperature reaches approximately 200 degrees F, place the 45 grams of measured egg whites in the stand mixer and whisk on medium speed, to soft peaks.
  10. Add a drop of lemon juice or dash of cream of tartar to stabilize, THEN continue whisking.
  11. If the egg whites are at soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 F, turn the mixer down to low speed to keep the egg whites moving.
  12. Watch the sugar syrup closely.
  13. As soon as the sugar syrup reaches 248 degrees F, remove from heat.
  14. Quickly increase mixer speed to medium and begin slowly pouring the sugar syrup down the side of your mixing bowl into the meringue until thoroughly combined.
  15. THEN increase the mixing speed to high and whisk sugar and meringue together until glossy and medium peaks form and the meringue has cooled down. (The meringue should slightly keep its form.)
  16. Gently transfer finished meringue into the almond/powdered sugar mixture in thirds, making sure that it’s fully incorporated before adding the additional 3rd of meringue.
  17. Continue to fold the batter in a circular motion, going around the edges of the bowl, then once through the center. Repeat these steps until smooth and thick ribbons of batter run off the spatula.
  18. **Be careful not to over-mix**
  19. You want the batter to be slightly thick, but not so thin that it does not hold the ribbon shape. Err on the side of caution.
  20. Transfer batter to the prepped piping bag.
  21. Pipe four 5 inch rounds about 4 inches apart on the silpat lined baking sheet (s).
  22. Be sure to hold the piping bag about 1/2 inch directly above the baking sheet when piping the rounds. For this size of macaron, you can either use a 5 inch circle template to pipe the rounds of batter, or the count method. Counting to about 30 seconds for each 5″ round.
  23. Reserve the second baking sheet for smaller macarons to use the leftover batter.
  24. *Gently tap the bottom of the sheet the macarons are piped on to release air bubbles.
  25. *Pop any air bubbles that come to the surface, using a scribe or even a toothpick.
  26. Before placing the macs in the oven, let them rest until a proper skin has formed on the full outside of the shell. This takes around 20-30 minutes. For the large shells I recommend 25-30 minutes total, depending on humidity. Test by touching the center of the piped macs with a clean finger. They should be dry to touch with no batter coming off on fingers.
  27. Preheat oven to 295 degrees F. ( lowering the temp by 5degrees to prevent browning because the shells are white.)
  28. Once dry to touch, place the macarons in the middle rack of the oven.
  29. Feet will form halfway through the baking process.
  30. You can open the oven after the first 14 minutes to test the shells. Wiggle gently from side to side to see if they need more time. A fully baked macaron should be sturdy when tested.
  31. Once fully baked, remove from oven and allow 20 minutes to cool before attempting to remove the shells from the silpat.
  32. Once macarons are completely cool, gently remove from parchment paper/silpat.
  33. Repeat same steps to bake the remaining macaron batter. You can fill up the second baking sheet with smaller macaron shells or make extra 5″ shells for a second cake.
  34. Once completely cooled, set aside until ready to assemble.


  1. Mix shortening/butter, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla bean seeds in a stand mixer until incorporated.
  2. Transfer filling to piping bag fitted with wilton 4B and set aside.


  1. Heat the cranberries, water and vanilla bean on medium until the berries begin to break down.
  2. Stir in the sugar and pectin powder and allow to bubble for 3-5 minutes, stirring in between. Once combined, remove from heat. Discard of vanilla bean pod and blend with an emulsion blender to smooth.
  3. Allow to cool.
  4. Transfer cooled jam to a tipless piping bag and set aside.


  1. Heat (do not boil) the sugar and water in a saucepan on medium until the sugar has fully dissolved.
  2. Pour in rinsed cranberries for roughly 2 minutes until evenly coated. The berries should not pop or break.
  3. Remove cranberries from simple syrup with a slotted spoon, transferring to parchment paper.
  4. Once transferred (work quickly, they should still be slightly wet), immediately drop the cranberries into the white sugar, rolling to coat. 
  5. Place sugar covered cranberries onto a clean piece of parchment and then transfer to the fridge to set. They will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.


  1. To assemble, place the bottom shell on a cake stand.
  2. Pipe 3 dollops of vanilla bean frosting along the outside edge of the shell.
  3. Add one sugared cranberry for every 3 dollops of frosting to fill the entire outside of the first macaron. Fill the center with cranberry vanilla jam.
  4. Top with second macaron shell, then repeat with the frosting, sugared cranberries and jam. 
  5. Top with third shell, then repeat with the frosting, sugared cranberries and jam.
  6. Place the 4th shell on top, then decorate the top of the macaron “cake” with dollops of frosting, macarons, meringues (optional) 2″ macarons sugared cranberries, edible gold paint and a dusting of confectioners sugar.
  7. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
  8. Carefully slice with a sharp knife while the cake is still chilled and serve on small canapé plates.
  9. Enjoy!


This macaron cake is topped with basic French meringues (optional). Find my recipe to make meringues here: (just omit the chocolate and mint.) 

Keywords: french macarons, baking, dessert, macaron cake, cranberry, vanilla, Christmas macarons, gluten free desserts, macaron instructions,