Halloween is very much not a holiday celebrated in Australia. Yet we seem to go along with it anyway. We don’t really get into lantern carving thing, and Trick or Treaters are usually met with scorn, confusion or a mixture of both. I couldn’t even tell you what candy corn tasted like. Ask most Aussies, and they’ll tell you it’s an American holiday not to be celebrated here. There’s a clear divide between the lovers and loathers of Halloween.
But we still get a bit of the Halloween fever here. This is probably mostly driven by the commercial side, with supermarkets and retail outlets stocking heaps of Halloween merch and covering their stores in black and orange decorations. People throw Halloween parties, as will pubs and clubs. Some of my favourite local music events happen on Halloween, Creepshow at The Espy being my absolute favourite. It usually involves watching lots of my favourite Melbourne bands playing sets in crazy costumes to a mosh pit of us crazy fans in equally crazy costumes. Good times.
So while we’re not huge on Halloween and while there’s seldom an occasion to bake for, I find myself following my American friends and baking Halloween-themed stuff anyway. It’s well and truly Spring here, but I love being inundated with all the Autumn colours you Northern Hemisphere-ians are experiencing right now. Any excuse to pretend it’s Autumn.
Another thing we don’t do in Australia is sweet pumpkin food things. Pumpkin is the kind of thing we have with a Sunday roast. It’s a savoury fruit. The prospect of making it sweet seems utterly foreign. I keep promising myself I’ll try some sweet pumpkin dessert soon to see what all the fuss is about, but in the interim I thought I’d start with something more familiar inspired by the pumpkin pie.
These macarons begin like any other: by processing the almond meal and pure icing sugar to make it as fine as possible. Pure icing sugar is great at clumping, as you can see from my sugar rock here, so it’s also an effortless way to get it through the sifter.
Once it’s all powdered up you can sift it through a fine mesh sieve. Sifting it a couple times helps get it really fine and helps you remove all the large particles remaining.
Here I threw in a bunch of pumpkin pie spices before sifting a final time.
Getting the meringue right is crucial, but simple if you know what to look for. Begin by getting your egg whites nice and frothy.
Here’s where you can add in the food colouring. You want to colour to be really dark here. As you beat the meringue and it increases in volume, the colour really leaches out of it. It again dilutes when you add the almond meal mixture and again during baking, so you’ll need to make it darker than what you want your final product to look like.
Beat in your caster sugar a little at a time, then keep beating until you get the meringue to stiff peak stage.
Add the almond meal mixture to the meringue (never the other way around) in thirds.
Once it’s combined you can begin the process of macronage. If you’re not familiar with this part, I’ve gone through this step-by-step in past macaron posts. Check out my honey bee macs for example and you’ll find everything you need to know for getting this part perfect.
Once your mixture is deflated enough you’ll be able to pipe perfect spheres of batter without any unsightly peaks.
They need to rest and then bake, but once they’re done you con commence
shoving them all in your mouth filling them. The spice mixture made these so delicious that eating them all plain was actually hard to resist.
The choice of filling is totally open to interpretation. I went for a cinnamon-infused whipped dark chocolate ganache. Half to be Halloween colours and half because mmm, cinnamon.
They’re actually best after resting for a day in the fridge, if you can wait that long.
I decided to have some fun with them and used an edible ink pen to draw lil’ Jack-o’-lantern faces on them.
These were incredibly delicious. Helped a lot by how much I love the spices that go into these, the cinnamon especially. The spices keep them from being too sweet so it is ridiculously easy to eat far too many, faces or no.
|Spiced Pumpkin Macarons
125g almond meal
150g pure icing sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground all spice
(alternatively use 1 tablespoon of pumpkin spice mix, if you have it)
100g egg whites (approx 3 eggs) aged 1-7 days
65g caster sugar
Orange gel paste or powdered food colouring
Edible ink pen, for decorating (optional)
Cinnamon chocolate ganache
150g dark chocolate, chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
To assemble, spoon or pipe ganache onto the macaron halves without the faces. Sandwich with the face halves. Macs are best after a day in the fridge but can be eaten immediately.