What’s better than one uber popular food trend? Two uber popular food trends. I give you pumpkin macarons.
Full disclosure—these French cookies can be tricky. If you’re not careful, your meringue could turn to soup. Your batter could be too thin*. Your batter could even be too thick. But if you’re careful, you will have adorable and impressive-looking cookies.
When making macarons, there are two particular steps where disaster can strike. The first is whipping the egg whites. If you’re new to whipping egg whites, jump over to my French meringue post for helpful hints of how to make pretty peaks, not sloppy soup. The main message to take home is to ensure you have zero, nada, zilch, absolutely no fat in your egg whites. With your immaculately clean bowl, you’ll need to beat your egg whites to medium peaks.
What are medium peaks?? Well I’m so glad you asked.
Beaten egg whites are usually grouped in one of three categories: soft, medium, and stiff peaks. You can test your whites by pulling your whip attachment straight up out of the eggs and seeing what kind of peak it leaves behind. Soft peaks don’t hold their shape well, and the very top of the peak…the peak of the peak? folds over on itself. It’s sort of like a melting snowman with the head flopped over. Medium peaks hold their shape well, but the top of the peak curls down. If it looks like a Dairy Queen soft serve made of egg whites, you’ve nailed it. Stiff peaks hold their shape well, and the peak stands straight up, simple as that.
Mastering soft, medium, and stiff peaks is difficult. To ensure you don’t over or under beat your whites test your peaks often!
The second danger zone is folding the meringue into the dry ingredients. If you under mix the batter, the tops of the cookies will crack, and you won’t achieve macaron feet—the textured edge on the flat side of the cookie. Get feet and you’ve made a true French macaron. Now if you over mix the batter, the mixture will be too runny. You’ll end up with cookies that spread too thin on the pan and don’t puff up in the oven.
Luckily, there is a happy medium. When the batter falls off your spoon, it should resemble molten lava. Thick but viscous enough to run off your spoon smoothly. If the batter falls in separate clumps, keep going! If the mixture runs like cake batter, you have gone too far! Like beating eggs to peak, this is a hard skill to master. Fold slowly and err on the side of under mixing.
*Personal Admission #11: Once when my batter was too thin and was baking horribly, I cut my losses and started eating it raw. I have no regrets! The eggs were pasteurized, and it still tasted delicious. We all start as beginners, right?
Recipe – makes 24 macarons
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice
- 4 egg whites
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3-4 drops of orange food coloring
- 1/4 cup Pumpkin Butter
- Sift the powdered sugar, almond flour, and pumpkin spice. Set aside.
- In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites on high speed until it resembles a luxurious bubble bath.
- Slowly add sugar to the egg whites.
- Add food coloring and bring whites to medium peak.
- Fold the flour mixture into the meringue one third at a time. Fold batter until it runs off your spoon like molten lava. Do not over mix!!
- Fill a pastry bag with the bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip. On a sheet pan lined with parchment, pipe one inch round cookies.
- Leave pans on the counter and allow the cookies to dry, about 30 minutes to an hour depending on humidity.
- Bake at 275° for about 20 minutes.
- As soon as you can handle them, remove cookies from the sheet pan onto a cool surface. Allow to cool completely.
- Fill a pastry bag** with pumpkin butter. Pipe a quarter sized blob onto the smooth side of the cookie, sandwich with another cookie.
**A zip lock bag with a corner cut off will also do. If you’re extremely low maintenance, you can just spoon the filling on, but it will look cleaner with a bag.