Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pumpkin Macarons

French macarons have been the bane of my existence for the past 3 weeks. I was determined to bake them successfully. They are such gorgeous little things... round domes with frilly feet and piped with a delicious cream. I baked several batches of chocolate, plain almond, vanilla, all failing in some way or another, such as no feet, too flat, cracked, etc. I probably went through 2-3 cartons of eggs. -_-

Finally, I succeeded! A beautiful batch of pumpkin macarons... I actually was inspired by the pumpkin bagels and pumpkin cream cheese at Noah's Bagels. I cheated and piped the pumpkin cream cheese into the macarons. It was divine!!! If you don't have access to pumpkin cream cheese schmear, feel free to use a cream cheese icing recipe and incorporate some pumpkin puree. The results should be similar.

I have to say, these were absolutely divine. I've only eaten macarons once, and I don't remember them being as good as these. There aren't too many pumpkin macarons out there, because pumpkin isn't a very French ingredient. However, the pumpkin is such an interesting, hearty taste that contrasts the sweetness of the macaron shell. Macaron shells are super sweet, and I tend to like them with a slightly bitter flavor (bittersweet chocolate) or a tangy filling (cream cheese filling). These would be perfect for Thanksgiving. In fact, I'll probably make them for Thanksgiving!! :)

I think the most important thing I learned is how much to fold and to age the egg whites. The common advice for folding is to get to the "flows like magma" stage. Unfortunately, this isn't a very informative phrase unless one has actually seen magma (practically nobody!) I think a more helpful tip would be to fold as little as possible. Underfolding is always better than overfolding. When piped, perfect macaron shells should be round and the tops should flatten themselves. It's okay if theres a little peak though, which would indicate the batter is underfolded. But at least they'll probably have feet. Also, another helpful tip is to leave out the piped shells for about an hour, so that they form a skin.

Pumpkin Macarons

-1 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
-1 cup almond flour
-5 tablespoons granulated sugar
-3 egg whites, aged for 1-2 days at room temperature, covered
-1 tablespoon pumpkin spice or cinnamon

1. Sift confectioner's sugar and almond flour into a large bowl. Discard any large chunks.
2. Add in pumpkin spice. Mix until well incorporated.
2. In another large bowl, whip egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add in granulated sugar and whip on medium until soft peaks form.
3. Sift 1/3 of the confectioner's sugar/almond flour mixture into the whipped egg whites. With a large spatula, fold by cutting the spatula down the middle of the mixture and turning when meeting the bowl until mostly combined. Repeat until all is incorporated. Do not overfold.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a plain tip, pipe 1-2 inch rounds about 2 inches apart from each other. Leave outside for one hour to allow skins to form.
5. Bake at 325 degrees F for about 10-12 minutes.
6. Allow to cool slightly, then peel parchment paper away from macarons. If they are difficult to remove, wet the bottom of the parchment paper with a few drops water.
7. When cool, pipe with cream cheese frosting and sandwich together. Serve or store in an airtight container.

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