These delicate sandwich cookies make for a delicious holiday treat. You can even freeze them to last through the New Year —if you can keep yourself from eating them all in one sitting!
Recipe by Susannah White, Crozet
120 grams confectioners’ sugar
78 grams (for pumpkin-chai macarons) or 58 grams (for pistachio macarons) almond flour
20 grams shelled pistachios (for pistachio macarons)
60 grams egg whites (from about 2 large eggs)
Pinch of salt
30 grams granulated sugar
Pumpkin-chai spice blend* (for pumpkin-chai macarons)
1 teaspoon extract of choice (pumpkin or pistachio)
Orange/brown (for pumpkin-chai macarons) or green (for pistachio macarons) food coloring
*Pumpkin-chai spice blend
2 teaspoons ground chai tea (about two teabags)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 silicone baking mats (with circles for macarons, preferably)
2 cookie sheets
Piping bags or quart-sized plastic bags
Lemon juice or white vinegar
- Line cookie sheets with silicone baking mats.
- Place the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour (and pistachio, for pistachio macarons) in a food processor. Blend for 30 seconds until thoroughly combined and fine in texture. Sift mixture into a bowl to make sure no lumps remain. Discard any large chunks. For pumpkin-chai macarons, add spice blend to mixture.
- Wipe down a metal bowl with lemon juice or white vinegar to eliminate any residue. Using a handheld mixer, beat egg whites and a pinch of salt on medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds.
- Slowly add in granulated sugar and beat on high until the eggs have formed firm peaks, about 3-5 minutes. The meringue should be shiny.
- Add extract and food coloring to the meringue and beat until mixed.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour mixture into egg whites, a little at a time. To fold, scrape around the bowl and then fold up and over from underneath the middle of the batter, being careful not to overmix. If you can draw a figure 8 in the batter with the spatula, it is ready. The goal is a smooth, sticky, and glossy mixture.
- Place your piping bag or plastic bag inside a glass or jar and fold the edges over the rim. Transfer batter into the piping bag and secure the top by twisting and adding a rubber band.
- Holding the piping bag vertically, pipe even, 1.5-inch rounds on the silicone mats. The batter will spread a little, so leave room between your rounds.
- Tap the cookie sheets on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles.
- Let the rounds sit and dry for 30 minutes to an hour ( longer on humid days) until they have developed a “skin” where you can touch one and no batter sticks to your hand. If the macarons aren’t drying, turn on the range hood or an overhead fan.
- Preheat oven to 325℉. Place cookie sheets on centered racks in oven. Bake 16-20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking. Shells are done when they can be lifted off of the baking mat without separating the tops from the iconic crinkly “feet.”
- Allow shells to cool completely before filing, then fill with your favorite buttercream, lemon curd or jam.
- Decorate with a simple icing — mix together confectioners’ sugar and water, put the mixture in a piping bag, drizzle over one side of the cookies, and sprinkle on crushed pistachios, graham cracker crumbs or sprinkles.
- Store macarons in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and bring to room temperature before serving to achieve their traditional texture.