How would you like to try your hand at some beatifully autumnal macarons? Nisha shares two delicious recipes for these delightful treats with the spicy fillings of cinnamon buttercream and pumpkin pie. Experiment with your own fillings and colourings for perfect festive gifts.
With autumn beautifully set in, soups and casseroles have started making their way through to our dinner tables. It gets dark by 4pm and Christmas is only a month and a half away. To me, autumn is simply spectacular. The trees with their vibrant orange, yellow and red leaves and the cosy nights in with mulled wine and a favourite book. It's definitely my kind of season.
Food-wise, autumn is all about spices - the fragrant, strong spices that make you feel good. So to celebrate fall in all its glory, I combined my favourite spices of the season with some macarons and it was a hit. Pumpkin pie is so quintessentially autumnal for me and I incorporated it into a filling for the macarons. The taste was spot on and it was surprisingly a perfect match. My favourite however was the cinnamon buttercream macarons dipped in chocolate. They not only looked gorgeous but they also tasted fab. Cinnamon and dark chocolate is a match made in heaven and it proved to be a winning combo here as well.
These can be perfect Christmas gifts and the best part, you can play around with colours and flavours and they would not fail to impress.
Plain macaron shells
(makes 24 small macarons)
60 gms sifted powdered almonds
100 gms icing sugar
60 gms egg white
40 gms caster sugar
Line two baking trays with baking paper and have your piping bags ready with a round tip nozzle.
Sift the ground almonds and icing sugar together and keep aside.
Whisk the egg whites in a mixer till frothy.
Keep adding the caster sugar bit by bit while continuously beating the egg white.
When the egg whites hold a peak shape when the whisk is lifted, you are good to go. Make sure the whites are not too dry. But then again, it's better for the whites to be dry than too loose because once it's too loose, it can't be fixed later, whereas the dryness can be tackled while doing the macronage.
Add the sifted almond-icing sugar mix to the egg whites and slowly (very slowly) fold it in using a spatula. No traces of egg white should be visible. Again, make sure you do this very gently so as to not make the mix too loose.
Divide the batter into two and into one add the orange colour for the pumpkin pie spice flavoured macarons and into the other add the autumn yellow colour for the cinnamon buttercream.
Mix in the colours as gently and evenly as possible and if the batter falls down from the spatula in unbroken ribbons, that means your batter is perfect consistency. If its flow is broken when you lift the spatula, then you need to work the batter a bit more.
Fill the piping bag with batter and pipe on to the baking tray, about 1 inch apart (for the batter to spread)
Leave to dry for about 15 to 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 140C at this point.
Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes in the middle rack of your oven.
Once the macarons are out of the oven, leave to cool for about 5 to 7 minutes, after which you can remove them carefully and store in air tight containers, or pipe right away.
Cinnamon buttercream macarons dipped in dark chocolate
50 gms unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp powdered cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
Whisk the butter and icing sugar till light and fluffy, about a minute or so.
Add the cinnamon powder and vanilla extract and continue whisking till well combined.
Transfer to a piping bag and pipe on to the yellow macarons.
Top with the other half, place in an air tight container and refrigerate for the shells to moisten with the filling.
After about 6 to 7 hours, put the chopped up dark chocolate pieces into a microwave safe bowl and melt completely. I do this on high for about 30 seconds. Take it out, stir and put it back in for about 30 seconds more. around 1 to 1.30 minutes should do the trick for the said quantity of chocolate.
Take the macarons out of the refrigerator and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Dip the macarons in the chocolate so they are covered halfway and place on the baking tray with the chocolate side up. If you think that the chocolate is dripping, keep the melted chocolate aside for a couple of minutes to make it just a wee bit set and then dip in the macarons.
Place back into the refrigerator for the chocolate to set.
Pumpkin pie filling
50 gms cream cheese/ soft cheese
3 tbsp icing sugar
1 heaped tbsp pumpkin puree (I used Libby's pumpkin puree)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (recipe below)
A dash of vanilla extract
2 tbsp double cream
Pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tsp powdered cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp all spice powder
Mix together all the pumpkin pie spices and store in an air tight container till ready to use.
Break down the cream cheese into a smooth mix, making sure you dont make it too loose.
Add the icing sugar and pumpkin pie spice to the cream cheese and mix slowly till you get a smooth mix.
In goes the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract.
Keep mixing till the puree has blended well with the cream cheese mix. Again, make sure you do this slowly or else the mix would become loose and there is no way to fix that.
Finally, add the double cream and whisk until you get soft peaks. Considering the quantity used here, attaining soft peaks may be a feat. So I leave it at the thick consistency and don't wait for the soft peaks. If you do want soft peaks, add some more double cream and whip to desired consistency.
Fill the orange macarons the same way you did the yellow ones, and place in the refrigerator for about 6 to 7 hours.
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