Pumpkin Spice Latte Macarons by Chelsea Zwieg

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Things I love a lot: Fall. Coffee. Pumpkin Spice Everything. MACARONS. Like we didn't all see a pumpkin spice latte macaron coming from a mile away. These are some of my very favorite macarons I have made and if you read anything about my macaron making obsession lately, that says a lot! The shells are flavored with a little bit of espresso powder and colored the most fall-y shade of orange you can find. They are filled with a pumpkin espresso buttercream that I would like to eat a gigantic bowl of on the regular. Do yourself and your inner basic white girl a huge favor and make these ASAP. Happy Fall! Happy Halloween! Happy Pumpkin Spice Latte Season! 

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Pumpkin Spice Latte Macarons

Note: If you can find espresso powder, it works best in this recipe. If you can't, instant coffee will work but it typically comes in much coarser granules and will need to be ground down more in order to be sifted. I used this espresso powder and I love it. 

| Ingredients

For the shells:

  • 100 grams almond flour
  • 100 grams powdered sugar
  • 5 grams espresso powder (see note) 
  • 100 grams egg whites
  • 100 grams granulated sugar 
  • orange gel food color

For the filling: 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or some mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg etc.) 

| Instructions

Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking mats and set aside. 

Sift the flour, powdered sugar and espresso powder into a bowl, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg whites and granulated sugar. Place the mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water and heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is melted and the mixture is warm to the touch. Return the bowl to your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Turn the mixer to high and whisk the egg mixture until it forms stiff peaks. 

Sift the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl on top of the egg whites. Don't skip this double sifting step, it's super important! Turn the mixer to medium and mix for about 10 seconds, until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Add a few drops of orange food color and mix another 4-5 seconds. At this point, take a spatula and scrape down any unincorporated meringue from the sides of the bowl. Also run the spatula around the bottom once to get any bits that didn't get mixed in. You don't want to just let the mixer run until this stuff is mixed in or the batter will be overmixed. Drop the whisk back down into the batter and lift it up, if the batter runs down in a steady stream, it is ready. If it breaks as it runs down, continue to mix for a few seconds at a time just until it no longer breaks. 

Scoop the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a wide round tip. Pipe evenly sized rounds (the size is totally up to you, mine are usually about 1 1/2- 2 inches in diameter) onto the prepared baking sheets. Bang the baking sheets on the counter several times to release any air bubbles. Let the macarons sit out until the tops are dry and a skin has formed. You will know they are ready when you touch one with your finger and you can pull it away clean. If batter sticks to your finger and it creates a peak in the macaron, they need to sit longer. This can take anywhere from 15-45 minutes depending on the weather, the heat of your kitchen, humidity etc. 

Once the macarons have dried, preheat oven to 300 and place a rack in the center. Bake the macarons one tray at a time for 15-20 minutes. A good test for if the macarons are done is to gently tap the top of a shell with your finger. If it sound hollow and the macarons does not jiggle back on forth on the feet that it has formed. they are ready to go. Remove from the oven and immediately remove the baking mat from the pan. Let the macarons cool completely before removing them from the mat. 

For the filling, beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer for 2 minutes.Scrape the bowl and add the powdered sugar. Beat on low speed to incorporate, then increase speed to high and beat for 1 minute. DIssolve the espresso powder in 1 tsp. warm water and add to the buttercream along with the pumpkin puree and spices. Beat until incorporated. Taste and add more espresso or spice, if desired. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe the frosting onto half of the macaron shells and sandwich together with the remaining shells. Roll the sides of each macaron in rainbow sprinkles. 

Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) & Jelly Layer Cake by Chelsea Zwieg

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I have been hating on peanut butter for more years than I can remember. It's sticky, it's gross, a girl in my third grade class always had peanut butter stuck in her hair after lunch and all I knew was I wanted no part in that. So I've pretty much avoided it except in Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Puppy Chow and I don't really think I've been missing all that much. But, I do eat almond butter on the daily and I could go on for days about how wonderful it is. But Chelsea, almond butter is also sticky. It might also get stuck in someone's hair after lunch. Well, these are risks I am willing to take for the beauty that is toasted almondy goodness all up in everything I eat. 

So when I had the idea to make a peanut butter and jelly cake it naturally turned into almond butter and jelly cake. But if you, like everyone else in the world, are pro-peanut butter, you can by all means go full PB&J for this cake. The cake layers are a super tender white buttermilk cake that gets stacked with layers of jam and peanut butter swiss meringue buttercream, for the most cake-ified sugar filled version of everyone's favorite sandwich. 

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Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter) and Jelly Cake

Makes a 4 layer 6" cake

| Ingredients

For the cake: 

  • 2 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 6 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla 

For the frosting: 

  • 2/3 cup egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (or almond butter) 
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jam, divided

| Instructions | 

Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of four 6" cake pans with parchment paper. Spray the paper and sides of the pan with non-stick spray. 

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cut the butter into small tbsp. size chunks and add to the bowl. Mix on low until the butter is cut into the dry ingredients and the mixture is sandy and cornmeal like. 

In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg whites and vanilla. Add half of the wet ingredients to the dry and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl well, add the remaining wet mixture and beat for another two minutes. Divide batter between prepared cake pans. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to finish cooling. 

For the frosting, combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl of a pot of simmering water and cook, stirring often, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture reaches 160 degrees. Return the bowl to the stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form and the meringue is room temperature. Swap the whisk for the paddle attachment and let the mixer run on low. Add the butter, a few tbsp. at a time, allowing each addition to incorporate for a little bit before adding more. Once all of the butter has been added, increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream comes together and is silky smooth. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low to beat out any air bubbles. 

Remove half of the frosting to a separate bowl and fold in 1/4 cup strawberry jam. Add 1/4 cup peanut butter to the buttercream still in the mixer and beat until incorporated.

Once the cake layers have cooled, trim and level each layer. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup raspberry jam on top of the cake layers. I found it easiest to warm the jam up in the microwave for about 30 seconds to that it spread really easily and soaked into the layers more like a syrup. Fill and stack the cake with the peanut butter buttercream. Crumb coat the outside of the cake with the strawberry buttercream and chill until firm. Decorate the outside of the cake with the remaining buttercream however you choose. A good tutorial for doing petal cakes can be found here. Store cake at room temperature.