Recipe // holiday cookies

December 12, 2014

Christmas cookies
Can you believe it’s already time to think about Holiday cookies?  I’m excited to partner with Harmons Grocery and the Harmons bloggers to bring you a fun post full of holiday cookie ideas and recipes!
Christmas cookies macarons
I was able to get together with the Harmons Blogger team to come up with some fun cookies for the Holiday season!  I think cookie exchanges are so much fun!  It would be a lot of fun to get together with friends this Holiday season to have a night to mingle and enjoy homemade cookies!  Here are a few cookies that we love, and wanted to share with you!
My friend Becky of Vintage mixer shared a festive frosted honey Christmas cookie.
Christmas cookies macarons
My friend Si of A Bountiful Kitchen made some yummy chewy chocolate ginger cookies.  They were so good, and she was nice enough to send me home with a bunch of them, I may have eaten almost all of them.
I decided to come up with a new recipe for French Macarons.  I decided to make pumpkin flavored French macarons.  
It was fun to try out a new flavor, and I think pumpkin is a flavor that can go through all the holidays!
They have the perfect blend of holiday spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in the pumpkin spice that translate well into Christmas baking.  And, boy your home sure smells like Christmas when you are baking them!
Harmons grocery has an amazing baking isle, they even sell the hard to find whole nutmeg, and they are the only grocery store in my area that I have been able to find egg white powder to help give my macarons a little extra volume!  I call it my “insurance policy” when making macarons!  
Pumpkin French Macarons with Pumpkin Buttercream
Adapted from Les Petits Macarons book by Kathryn Gordon
*Recipe adjusted for higher altitudes.

Yield: Makes 30 sandwiched 1 ½ inch macarons (60 halves)

82 grams almond meal/flour (Bob’s Red Mill is a good brand)
82 grams homemade pecan meal/flour* Directions below
Pinch of fine sea salt
¾ packed cup (165 grams) confectioner’s/powdered sugar
1 tablespoon (5 grams) powdered egg whites (*adjustment for high altitudes)
1 tablespoon (5 grams) pumpkin pie spice
½ cup (115 grams) aged* egg whites (about 4 eggs): divided into two equal parts *aged at least 2-5 days
1/4 cup (38 grams) water
5/8 cup (125 grams) granulated sugar
4 drops gel food coloring (optional)

Homemade Pecan Meal/Flour
* Place 1 cup pecans in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse for 1-2 seconds at a time so they don’t get too warm and turn into a paste.  Pulse about 30 times.  Be very careful not to pulse more that about 1-2 seconds at a time, so the nuts do not heat up and turn into a paste. Measure 82 grams of the pecan flour, and add it to the dry ingredients along with the almond flour.

*For homemade nut flours, the batter tends to get thin and runny quickly, be extra careful when you fold, and when whipping your egg whites for form a meringue, whip until stiff, this will help the batter to not be too thin.

Directions: (Be sure to follow directions precisely)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  Pulse the almond flour, pecan flour, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of a food processor 4 times for 4 seconds each time.  Sift the mixture with the powdered egg whites.  Stir in ¼ cup (57 grams) of the aged egg whites to form a thick paste, mix with a wooden spoon.

Put the remaining ¼ cup (57 grams) of egg whites in a electric stand mixer with a wire whisk attachment.  Whisk the egg whites on medium speed until FOAMY/SOFT PEAKS form.  Meanwhile, heat the granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook without stirring until the sugar syrup reaches the beginning of the soft ball stage (test this by removing a drop of the mixture on a heat proof spatula.  Drop a drop of the mixture and if it forms a half circle and the bottom edges are still domed, then it is ready to go.  If the mixture is still runny, and doesn’t stay in a soft form, it needs a little longer.)  Once it hits the soft ball stage IMMEDIATELY remove it from the heat, and slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into the soft peaked egg whites as it mixes on a medium speed.  Continue to whisking the mixture until the meringue forms a medium to stiff peak so it is marshmallow-like. About 3-5 minutes. Do NOT over whip or it will cause the cookie to crack when cooked!

Fold the meringue mixture one-third at a time into the dry ingredient paste (BE DELICATE!).  It will gradually lighten it and make a smooth batter.   Don’t mix too much or the macarons will crack.  To make sure that you have reached the right point, once the ingredients appear combined, lift some of the mixture about 1 inch above the bowl with the spatula.  If it retains a three-dimensional shape, fold it again.  When folded just enough, the mixture should fall right back into the bowl, with no stiffness, in a continuous drip. (It should be like lava, if it is too stiff it won’t get a nice three-dimensional look)

Pipe the macarons into 1 1/2 inch circles and 1 ½ inches apart on a silicon baking sheet lined (or parchment paper lined) pan. Pipe 1 ½ inch circles with a ½ inch round piping tip.  Use the hand you write with to squeeze the top of the bag, and the other hand to guide you to the next circle. Twist with your wrist, and move out without moving up. After piping all the circles, be sure to remove the excess air bubbles by slamming the pan onto the counter (holding it 6” above the table then slamming it down 6 times)  Let the macarons air dry at room temperature for ½ hour (*can take longer if raining) until a skin/crust forms.  Bake 1 sheet pan at a time on the middle rack of the oven for 13-14 minutes (less for convection) (for 1 ½ inch size) until the macarons just come off the baking sheet when you lift them by grasping their sides (the centers will have risen, and will not have any dark indentations).  If the macarons darken too quickly, put a wooden spoon in the door of the oven to prop it slightly open.  Cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

Pumpkin Butter Cream Filling

Pair with pumpkin macarons
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
pinch of sea salt
1lb 9 oz confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1) Cream the butter, salt, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin spice for about 2 minutes.  Slowly add the confectioners sugar ½ a cup at a time with a paddle attachment on the stand mixer on medium speed.  Mix until light and fluffy and combined, about 5 minutes, add vanilla bean paste.
Pipe into completely cooled macaron shells with a 1/2 inch round pastry tip, then sandwich the cookies.
I think it would be fun to package them up into little to-go boxes for a cookie exchange, or a little tasty holiday gift for your neighbors or friends. These are my favorite kraft take out boxes from Paper Mart. Tie it up with a little bakers twine, and you have the perfect holiday treat packaged up to share with friends and family.

Here’s the run-down on some amazing holiday cookies from the Harmons Bloggers:

Chewy Chocolate Ginger Cookies by A Bountiful Kitchen
Pumpkin French Macarons by Armelle Blog
Frosted Honey Christmas Cookies by Vintage Mixer
Peppermint Ganache Cookies by Harmon’s Grocery Bakers
Melted Snowman Cookies by One Sweet Appetite

{all photos by me, unless otherwise noted}

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