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Author Notes: These little French sandwich cookies are chock full of spiced pumpkin ganache, and decorated with adorable (and spooky!) jack-o-lantern faces. Let the kids design their perfect cookie! —Amanda Hepler (oven & apron)
Makes: 22 sandwich cookies
tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
cups powdered sugar
cup almond meal
teaspoon vanilla extract
20 - 40
drops orange gel food color (like AmeriColor gel in Terra Cotta)
black food color writing pen (like AmeriColor Gourmet Writer)
pumpkin ganache (modified from Momofuku Milk Bar)
ounces good quality white chocolate
tablespoons unsalted butter
tablespoon light corn syrup
cup heavy cream, cold
cup canned pumpkin puree
teaspoon kosher salt
drop orange gel food color, optional
- For the macarons: In a medium bowl, place the almond meal. Sift the powdered sugar over the almond meal and whisk to combine. Set aside. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and prepare 2 ungreased sheet pans with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a Kitchen Aid fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on speed 4 for two minutes. The whites should look foamy like soap suds. Turn the mixer up to speed 6 and gradually add the granulated sugar with the mixer running. After the sugar is added, whip the whites for 3 1/2 minutes. By now, the whites should look bright white and billowy, very stiff, and begin to clump up in the center of the whisk when the mixer is turned off. Add the vanilla extract and the food color, and mix on speed 6 until the color is combined. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix again briefly to make sure the color is not streaky. Take the mixer bowl from the stand and sprinkle in 1/3rd of the almond meal mixture over the meringue. Fold somewhat vigorously, you want to deflate the meringue and incorporate the almond meal mixture at the same time. Add the next amount of almond meal mixture and fold again to incorporate. Add the final amount of almond meal mixture and fold once again until there are no streaks or pockets of almond meal mixture. The texture of the finished macaron batter should look shiny and somewhat smooth, and when you lift up a spoon full of batter and drizzle it back into the bowl, it should settle slowly on the remaining batter until it almost disappears into the batter. When the bowl is tilted, the batter show flow thickly and not be overly runny.
- Scoop the batter into an 18 inch piping bag fitted with a round tip. Carefully squeeze dollops of batter onto the parchment paper-lined sheet pans, leaving a bit of space between each to allow for settling. Pipe in neat rows, being sure not to pipe one dollop too close to another. Once all the batter is piped onto both pans, grab one pan at a time and while holding the sides firmly, smack it down hard on a table top or counter surface from a few inches above. This will pop any remaining air bubbles and allow the cookies to settle and flatten. Let the pans sit for 30 minutes to allow the cookie surface to dry slightly.
- For the ganache: In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the white chocolate and butter in short 15 second bursts, stirring in between, until melted and just warm. Stir until smooth.Transfer to a tall container that will easily fit an immersion blender/stick blender.
- Heat the corn syrup in a small dish for 15 seconds. Pour into a tall container and stir in the warm corn syrup. Mix the chocolate/corn syrup mixture on high with an immersion blender until the mixture is smooth. Stream in the cold heavy cream slowly, and continue to blend on high speed. The mixture should become smooth and shiny. Pour the chocolate mixture into a bowl and add the pumpkin puree, salt and cinnamon (and food color, if using). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the ganache chill until set.
- To finish the cookies: Once the macarons have rested for 30 minutes, put both pans onto separate shelves in the preheated oven and cook for 9-10 minutes. Swap the pans to their opposite shelf and allow to bake for 9-10 minutes more. The cookies are done when you touch the surface lightly and the cookie doesn’t wobble from side to side. If the cookies are still too soft and wobbly, continue baking for 3-5 minutes more. Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes, and peel gently from the parchment paper while still slightly warm. Let cool completely before decorating.
- Pair up the cookies with ones that are like in size. Put half the cookies flat-side up on a sheet pan, and the other half with their rounded sides up on another sheet pan. Using the black food color pen, draw creepy jack-o-lantern faces on the cookies.
- Grab the chilled ganache, microwaving briefly just to make it a slightly less firm texture. Transfer the ganache to a piping bag (or a gallon sized zip top bag with a tiny piece of one bottom corner cut off) and pipe about a 1 teaspoon mound onto the flat-side up cookies. Sandwich them with their like-sized pairs that have been decorated. Allow the cookies to sit in an airtight container at room temperature for at least 12 hours, to let the cookies properly soften before eating.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Edible Gift