Pumpkin Spice Macarons with Bourbon Maple Buttercream

Pumpkin Spice Macarons

Happy Fall Y’all! It’s now appropriate to start busting out all the pumpkin everything. Decorations, practice carving my pumpkins, and most importantly, baking pumpkin everything!

One of the most requested desserts I’m asked to make, hands down would be macarons (Don’t get this confused with the macaroons, two O’s relates to the coconut treat). This lovely French pastry represents two meringues sandwiched between an endless option of fillings.

I learned how to make these from a friend's mom who ran a coffee shop in Portland. Back then of course when I had a small kitchen and no stand mixer, I was whipping egg whites with my immersion blender or by hand and it was downright exhausting and I would want to give up. I went through a few trials and errors with the cookies cracking, and with long, late-night sessions in my kitchen, I finally locked down the technique.

Pumpkin Spice Macarons

Macarons are made with almond flour, though any finely ground nut flour will work as well (doing research on a nut-free macaron for my poor boyfriend who can’t eat these!). Powdered sugar, and any flavors with spices or ground up freeze-dried fruit (Trader Joe’s is your best friend for this) this will provide both flavor and a lovely natural coloring bonus. The most important rule with making macarons is to run all your dry ingredients through a fine mesh sieve at least twice!! This helps to remove all the lumps and make sure they will properly rise and be the perfect texture. Sure you can pulse your dry ingredients through a food processor, but you will still have to sieve it, food processors won’t finely pulse everything in the container, so I skip the food processor in exchange for a medium to large fine-mesh sieve.

Next, you’ll want to whip your egg whites, preferably with something electric such as a stand mixer, or a handheld mixer. Doing this by hand if you’re not used to this takes SO...MUCH...TIME! The fresher your eggs, the better your meringue will be.  You’ll add granulated sugar once it starts foaming and builds to a glossy stiff peak, becoming a meringue. You’ll want to shake the meringue from the whisk attachment if it jiggles, we call this soft peaks, and you should run it longer. If you shake it and it doesn’t move, you have arrived at stiff peaks. 

Pumpkin Spice Macarons

Take your piping bags (I love the Fat Daddio's pastry bags, stretchy silicone bags, easy to work with) or you can use Ziploc bags and toss when done. I like to wrap my pastry bag around a tall cup so I can fill it without making a buttercream mess. Secure the end by twisting closed the back of the pastry bag. Once you pipe, you'll have a little peak tip, it should go down over time and be a flat surface. If you're not comfortable about making even-sized macarons, I google search "macaron templates" and print a couple of copies to put underneath my parchment paper. I slide them out before I put in the oven. You can use these many times.

Last most important step before baking your macarons, you have to let these rest. This is not straight to the oven after you pipe. These cookies need to develop a hard skin on top. You want to lightly poke the top with your fingertip, it should leave no dent on top, and it's ready to go into the oven!

Happy snacking!

Pumpkin Spice Macarons

Pumpkin Spice Macarons with Bourbon Maple Buttercream

Makes: About 30 sandwiched macarons (depending on the size you pipe)

Prep Time: 30 minutes (not including rest time)

Total Time: About 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

Macarons
  • 7 oz powdered sugar
  • 4 oz almond flour
  • 4 oz egg whites
  • 3 oz granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • Couple drops of orange food coloring

Buttercream
  • 8 oz Butter, Softened (2 Sticks)
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 tsp bourbon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

 


 

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (if you are using templates, place underneath the parchment).

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment,  add egg whites and whip whites on medium speed until it starts to foam. Add granulated sugar, make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl if theres some on the sides not getting mixed in. Once all sugar is mixed in, continue medium speed until your meringue is glossy and at stiff peaks.

3. Sift together your almond flour, powdered sugar, and all spices through a fine mesh sieve.

4. I like to add my dry mixture in half, dividing the dry and folding it in with a spatula.  Making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and getting the particles at the very bottom of the bowl folded in. Add in food coloring for a final fold. When you raise your spatula with batter, it should be shiny and run a smooth, ribbon flow.  If it's slow or clumpy, keep folding until it reaches the proper consistency.

5. Transfer batter to piping bag that has a pastry tip (I like to use a tip size 10 or 12). Following your templates or going on your own design, pipe about 1/2 above the parchment, holding the bag straight down, directly in the center of the stencil so it flows out into an even circle. Stop squeezing and pull pastry bag straight up and sideways, move onto the next circle. Continue until templates have been covered.

6.  Once baking sheets are filled, take each side and gently but firmly bang the baking sheet against the counter 3 times, this removes air bubbles. Let them sit at room temperature until a hard skin forms on the top of the macarons, about 40-50 minutes. Gently touch the top, no dents means it's ready to bake.

7.  Bake macarons until firm, about 12-16 minutes. I rotate the pans halfway if I'm unsure about my oven temp. If you have an oven thermometer and it's spot on, I don't need to rotate them.

8. Slide the parchment with macarons onto a cooling rack. Let them sit for a few more minutes until cooled down before gently removing them.

9. For the buttercream, put butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Cream butter for two minutes.

10. Add rest of ingredients, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat for another minute or two until shiny and whipped.

11. Transfer buttercream into a piping bag that has a small star tip. gently turn your cooled macarons over and pipe around the perimeter, and slowly into the center. Sandiwch with another matching size macaron.

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Banana Bread

Classic Banana Bread

 

As summer is winding down, I'm welcoming Fall by making lots of banana bread to make my home smell cozy while I pull all my sweaters for the weather. Banana bread is one of my favorite go to recipes all year round, but something about warm banana bread with the cold weather is so comforting.  I always buy bananas in handful amounts from Trader Joe's (umm 19 cents per banana each? yes please!) I love them in smoothies, or letting them go very ripe and baking them in cakes and breads. Also happens to be one of my favorite foods to gift, feeding my mom when she visits from out of town, sharing a loaf with my co workers, handing them off to my boyfriend's office where it disappears in mere minutes.

It's so simple to make, one of those classic yet essential recipes to have locked down. Even if you're one of those people who says, "I can't bake at all, I would mess it up." Have no fear, I got you!

Classic Banana Bread

When it comes to making that delicious banana bread, your number one all star is going to be the bananas. You want those in a ripe to very ripe state, the browner the better. I normally store some in a brown paper bag (save that shopping bag) and bunch it up closed for 2-3 days to speed the process. If you're sometimes a little bit impatient, you don't have to let the skins go fully browned, just get big dots of brown all over. Or you can cook bananas with the peel still on and place on a baking sheet, place in the oven at 250 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Let them cool before you peel and mash.

For this recipe, I used a combination of melted butter AND oil. Yes that's right, I used both these to provide a sturdy yet moist bite to this loaf. The butter provides that classic buttery taste and has that fluffy texture, where the oil keeps the bread moist and I find it gives a nice crust to the bread as it bakes.  I used olive oil because I so happened to be out of vegetable oil, and I think it gives just a little more of a firm hold to it, but I would gladly substitute for vegetable oil as well.  When it comes to sugar, brown sugar gives that more darker sweetness, that molasses goodness helps give the banana a more balanced sweet taste than using granulated sugar.

Classic Banana Bread

Once you've mastered this recipe, you can easily take it up a notch. Sometimes when I really want some chocolate, I add in chocolate chunks (The darker the chocolate, the better) and fold that into my batter before I pour it into the pan. Easily add in some shredded zucchini or carrots when you're mixing wet ingredients together to balance a little savory with your sweet. Even give a splash of bourbon or rum when mixing wet ingredients for an extra little kick of flavor.

Banana Bread

Makes: 1 loaf  Prep time: 15 minutes  Total Time: 75 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger (or ground ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3-4 medium-sized brown or very ripe bananas, plus 1 extra banana for topping the loaf
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (easily can sub for vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 


 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Whisk to evenly mix all ingredients.
  3. In another medium or large bowl, mash ripe bananas with a fork or wooden spoon.  Add melted butter and oil, stir until just combined. Add brown sugar, freshly grated ginger, vanilla, and egg. Stir until combined.
  4. Add half of the dry mixture to wet ingredients, folding gently until you most of the dry ingredients have combined. Add remaining half of dry ingredients to wet, fold until batter is no longer showing any dry ingredients. I saved my 4th banana and cut it in half lengthwise and topped it on the loaf, totally optional.
  5. Grease loaf pan with butter or oil, you can also use parchment. Pour batter into prepared pan, bake for 60 mins. I always like to check my bread 10 minutes early by running a toothpick or fork into the bread and seeing if it comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and let the bread sit in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. Let the loaf cool on a wire cooling rack and serve when still warm.
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