Spiced Pumpkin Macarons

Happy Thanksgiving: Spiced Pumpkin Macarons

My mom traditionally assigns me to appetizers for Thanksgiving dinner but I’m secretly bringing dessert this year! 🤫 I won’t be in too much trouble since my dad periodically asks, “Have you made more cookies?” Cookies in our family translates to French macarons, tricky morsels that I’m still hoping to master.

I always vow to never bake macarons after every batch because of the challenge and difficulty inherent in baking the perfect shells. You’ll always find me sitting in front of the oven eagerly waiting for the magical feet to appear…or not. Missing feet, cracked shells and hollow insides are the occasions when I swear to the high heavens that I’ll never bake another macaron, ever. The temperamental cookies require time and dedication and it’s thoroughly heartbreaking when the macaron ruffles have gone missing.

The secret to the perfect macaron lies in the batter and the precise addition of meringue to create the elusive ribbon that flows like molten chocolate cake; it’s neither too stiff nor too loose. It takes tons of practice to know intuitively when to press the pause button on meringue. My ultimate secret, though, is to bake large batches of macaron shells and cherry-pick from the best of the bunch. Shh, I munch on the uglies as they come out of the oven. 😉

The macaron recipe I always rely on hails from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel and the pumpkin ganache is adapted from a recipe featured on Serious Eats.


Ingredients

For the macarons (yields three dozen):

1 3/4 cups + 2 1/2 tablespoons almond flour
1 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons egg whites*
1 cup + 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons egg whites*

For the pumpkin ganache:

2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 teaspoons cream
6 tablespoons pumpkin puree
4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed*
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

*Must be room temperature

Directions

Three days before you’re ready to bake the macaron shells, age the egg whites. In a small bowl, crack six large eggs and separate the egg whites from the yolks. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.

The day before you’re planning to bake the shells, prepare the pumpkin ganache. Mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl. Then bring the cream to a slight boil and add the dry ingredients. Bring the mixture back to a boil, then add the pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice.

Once it’s incorporated, add the butter and combine. Pour the mixture over the white chocolate chips and whisk until smooth. Once the ganache cools, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to sit on the counter overnight to ensure a smooth consistency.

Six hours before preparing the macarons, allow the egg whites to come to room temperature.

Then sift and whisk the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl. Add a 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons egg whites, mix and set aside.

Add the granulated sugar and water to a small saucepan. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add a 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons egg whites and a small pinch of sugar. Heat the saucepan with the sugar and water on medium-high until it reaches 200℉. Once it reaches 200℉, whip the egg whites on medium speed to soft peaks. Keep heating the syrup until it reaches 248℉. If the egg whites achieve soft peaks before the syrup is ready, reduce the speed to low to keep the whites in motion.

With the mixer set to medium-low, pour the syrup slowly between the whisk and the side of the mixing bowl. Then whip the meringue on medium speed to stiff peaks and continue until it cools, which should take about five minutes or so.

Add 1/3 of the meringue to the reserved almond mixture and gently fold. Continue adding the meringue in batches until the batter flows off the spatula like a ribbon of lava. It’s ready when the batter is lifted and the ribbon slowly disappears in 30 seconds. Transfer the macaron batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2” tip.

We used silicon baking mats with a 1 1/2” round template but you can create your own with a 1 1/2” diameter cup, a pen and parchment paper. The internet is also a great resource for printable macaron templates.

Pipe the rounds and smooth any peaks left by the pastry tip. Gently rap the pan a few times to remove any air bubbles and allow the batter to dry for 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300℉. The macaron batter is ready when the tops are no longer sticky to the touch.

Bake for 9-12 minutes and allow to cool completely. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8” tip with the pumpkin ganache, then flip half of the macaron shells over. Pipe a teaspoon of ganache in the center, then cover. The macarons are best after an overnight chill, which allows the ganache to flavor the macaron shell.

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