Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pumpkin Macarons

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are heading to NYC for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this year, despite the terrible weather prediction. I suppose if we have all the coats, hats, gloves and scarves in the world and expect the worse, it won't be that bad. On top of crossing that off my personal bucket list, we were invited to Thanksgiving dinner with our friends the Weinbergs! A swanky Thanksgiving dinner in a New Yorker's apartment? That's just icing on the cake.

I decided to make some pumpkin macarons for the occasion. Whenever I decide to make a particular macaron, I first Google it and read a ton of recipes and then end up doing my own thing. It's a fun process and they have usually turned out fairly well. My friend Rebecca Rushforth and I got together the other night and created these. Rick and Harrison (my official taste-testers) loved them.

Pumpkin Macaron Shells

2/3 c. almond flour (sometimes called meal)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
3 egg whites at room temperature
5 T. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
Wilton copper gel coloring

Heat oven to 280 degrees and place the racks on the two lowest positions. Cut pieces of parchment paper to fit two cookie sheets perfectly and then draw 1-inch or 1.5-inch circles all over the papers, with pencil, leaving at least 1/2-inch of space in between circles (I found something in my drawer that looked like an inch and traced it).

Sift the almond flour before measuring out 2/3 c. When measuring, make sure to pack it in, as it will be very light weight. Whisk the sifted almond flour, powdered sugar, and pumpkin pie spice together and set aside.

Place egg whites in the bowl of a mixer and start to mix on med-high. When they start to get frothy, add sugar, 1 T. at a time. Move to a high speed and continue to beat until glossy, stiff peaks appear. To test it, pick up the whisk; if the egg white's peak at the top and doesn't fall, they are ready. If it falls down, keep mixing. Make sure you don't over mix (it will become clumpy). Quickly mix in a few drops of coloring and the vanilla extract.

Transfer egg whites to a large bowl. Add a third of the dry mixture and fold it about a dozen times until just barely mixed in and you can't see anymore flour. Fold with a spatula, going up the sides, pushing down the center. Add another third and do the same until incorporated. Finish mixing the rest of the dry ingredients, being careful to fold and not stir. When you lift your spatula, the mixture should pour off like thick molten lava. If it's not flowing when you lift the spatula, it is too thick and needs more mixing.

Use a piping bag with a medium-sized round tip (#10 or #12 works perfectly). Place it in a large cup and fold over the sides. Pour in half of the mixture and twist the top. Start piping the batter into the circles. The best way to do it is to hold just over the pan (not touching) and let the batter come out until the circle is perfectly filled. Then quickly turn your wrist as you lift the tip to try and not leave a tail. Once the first pan is filled, hold the pan with both hands and tap hard on the counter 3 times. Turn the pan so your hands are on the opposite ends and tap again 3 times (helps get any air pockets out and flattens the cookies). Continue until both pans are filled and the rest of the batter is used up. Let them sit on the counter for at least 15 minutes, or until the tops are no longer wet when you touch them. (This could take a lot longer in a humid climate.)

Place the cookie sheets on the two bottom oven racks. You will have to experiment with the cooking times and temperatures, but this is what worked for me. Set the timer for 2 minutes and when it rings, open the door for about 15 seconds (to let any humidity escape), then set the timer for 6 minutes. Once the time is up, change the pans so that the top one is now on the bottom, as well as turn around so the back of the pan is now in the front. Bake for 7 more minutes. To test the doneness, carefully lift the cookie off the sheet. If it comes off the parchment fairly easily, they are done. If the cookie separates in half, bake one more minute, and so on. Cool the macaroons completely, on the pan, before removing.  Find pairs that are the same size and shape and start to assemble your macaron sandwich cookie by piping the filling (with same piping bag and size of tip used for shells) and carefully putting the lid on top until filling reaches all the edges. This particular filling was quite runny, so I would do about a dozen, put them on a plate in the freezer and continue to work until they were all in the freezer.

Completed macarons are best if refrigerated for a couple of hours, or frozen up to a month in a sealed container. At least 15 minutes before serving, remove the macarons from the freezer and keep sealed in the container, with the lid on, until completely thawed.

Pumpkin Buttercream Filling

7 T. unsalted butter, softened
2 egg yolks
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3 1/2 T. milk (I used eggnog for fun and it was wonderful!)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 c. pumpkin butter

Cut butter into pieces and mash with a spatula until the consistency resembles mayonnaise. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then add the granulated sugar and whisk until the mixture lightens to an off-white and you can no longer see the granules of sugar (I use my Kitchen Aid). Add the milk, and whisk to combine. Pour the egg mixture into a small saucepan over low heat, whisking frequently to ensure that the mixture does not curdle or scorch. Cook until the mixture becomes thick and custardy, like pudding. Pour the egg mixture back into its bowl and whisk constantly until it returns to room temperature. Whisk in the butter in three batches, add the vanilla extract and pumpkin butter; stir until smooth and all ingredients are fully combined. 

1 comment:

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