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Saffron Pumpkin Macarons

Pumpkin Saffron Macarons

All summer long upon entering the grocery store I would grab a basket, stop at the sushi counter, pass by the salad bar, turn the corner and with my eyes closed reach in the plum and nectarine display to my left. The most visible display as you enter the store. All summer long, I would pick three of each and make a beeline for the cherries and the figs before resuming with the rest of the items on my list. Summer reached an end. Pears replaced cherries and figs turned into dates. Expected.

I still went to the store and turned the same corners, walked down the same aisles even when Autumn pointed its lovely little chilly mornings (well, for about 3 days). Last week, as I walked by the main display and reached for the plums and nectarines, I found myself holding three decorative mini gourds instead. "C’est quoi cette histoire?" What is going on? Well I really said "quesaco", Provencal for the same expression which attracted a different set of puzzled looks. After the courgettes and aubergines, the kid working at the produce section thought I was asking about a specific gourd and was already running to the back room. I feel that if I am still around at 80-90 years old, I will become that "odd lady", the ghost of the grocery store. Seriously…let’s hope I am not that "creepy odd lady".

With the summer produce moved to the back of the store, it was time I gave those little pumpkins a whirl and let Fall sit at the kitchen table while I bake and write. There are days it is difficult to wax poetic about a cherry dessert for the book when the aromas of mulled wine and apple cider are coming from next door. We still do not have anything that resembles Fall here but we like to practice. We gather wood, we make pretty piles, we shop for scarves and try to knit. We get in the spirit even if we can’t wear our coats. We get excited with the first whisper of Northern wind.

Pumpkin & Macarons

I am doing just that. I bought a few mini pumpkins and gourds and turned them into votives, set them on the dining room table to set the mood. I cooked the flesh down and was left with about half a cup, which was a little too little for pumpkin pie. I thought about mixing it with some cream cheese to make a couple of small cheesecakes. While rummaging through the fridge, I spotted a container of egg whites, and the package of saffron, next to the almonds. The fridge was making the recipe up for me, signs of macarons everywhere!! I needed a little snack to take next door to our weekly neighbors' gathering and was not sure how the concoction forming in my head would be received. I settled on lightly infused saffron shells with a simple cream cheese and pumpkin filling with just a touch of cloves.

In the past year, a lot of people have started to make macarons on a more regular basis and the first remark I read for first timers is how surprisingly very sweet they are. Ah, yes…I guess we forgot to tell you…they are! That’s why they are small, sold individually or in small box and are best shared with a group of friends. Back home, we eat one with coffee or tea, not like a handfull animal crackers in the middle of the afternoon, not that there is anything wrong with that. Hence, I like to use a slightly less sweet filling and cream cheese is fantastic in that regard and works great with all sorts of flavors.

The second most frequently asked question is what is the best way to pipe even shells all the time. When you do macarons regularly, it becomes difficult not to. Your hands repeat the motions. Over the years, your wrists have registered the nuances and your hands repeat the motion. I always write back the same thing "Hold your tip at a 45 degree angle. Press the filling through your pastry bag from the top down . Practice, practice, practice". Some people are ingenious and smart thinkers and tediously trace circles on parchment paper, invert the sheet, pipe and bake. That takes time and patience. Maybe it is a reason why people make macarons once and never again? On top of the required nut grinding, meringue folding just so…there is piping even circles so they can be paired up aesthetically and not look like distant cousins.

Guess what? Somebody has come up with the solution for you. No…not me. Her. When Helena first posted about macarons, I noticed a sheet full of macaron shell imprints and told her that many macarons novices would probably love to use such a tool to make even shells on their first tries. She graciously replicated her template and came up with two shell sizes available to download and print. Ok, so even if I don’t "need" a template, I love crafty people and things, so you know I had to give these a try!! She also added a set of diagonal patterns for trained sticklers (no offense, I am there). I printed out both templates on card stock paper, sneaked one sheet under my parchment paper and piped, slid the template away and baked the shells. Easy peasy! Thank you Helena! One more difficulty out of the way for those tempted to try macarons….

Pumpkin Saffron Macarons

Saffron Pumpkin Macarons:

Makes 12-18 macarons, depending size

Note: I did whip the egg whites with the saffron together without a problem, but if you fear that your whites might not foam up properly because the saffron has taken on moisture or oiliness, ground the almonds with the saffron instead and proceed with the recipe as written.

Saffron shells:
3 egg whites (about 90 gr)
1/2 tsp saffron
40 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds

For the whites: the day before (24hrs), separate your eggs and store the whites at room temperature in a covered container. If you want to use 48hrs (or more) egg whites, you can store them in the fridge. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam with the saffron, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry and your macarons won’t work.
Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Pass through a sieve.
Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that flows like magma or a thick ribbon. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down.
The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.
Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool.
If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer.

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Filling:
2 oz (60gr) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 oz (60gr) freshly cooked or canned pumpkin
1/8 tsp ground cloves

In a medium bol, mix the cream cheese, pumpkin and cloves until completely incorporated.
Fill a pastry bag with this mixture and pipe onto half the shells and top with another shell.

This is my submission to Root Source Challenge #35: Saffron.

Note: the first picture is me in an apron made by Holly of PheMomenon.

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Anonymous September 30, 2008 um 6:30 am

How delicious and beautiful Helen. I simply love macarons and this looks wonderful!


Anne September 30, 2008 um 6:55 am

How absolutely gorgeous!! You make it look, and sound, so easy. I really have to try again, it’s been several years. ๐Ÿ™‚

Rosa's Yummy Yums September 30, 2008 um 7:06 am

Splendid! You always have such great ideas! I admire your beautiful creations…

Cheers and have a good day,


K and S September 30, 2008 um 7:09 am

love the color and flavor combinations!

Dewi September 30, 2008 um 7:10 am

Oh Helen,
Those macarons look so beautiful. I agree with Anne that you make it look and sound so easy!

anadelicias September 30, 2008 um 7:29 am

Lovely!!! I was thinking about this yesterday and finally i decided to make bomboms..


Manggy September 30, 2008 um 8:05 am

Once again, you’ve achieved perfection, Helen! I’m kind of amused by the template business– just the other day I was feeling a little worried that the first time I make these, they would spread out into a blobby sheet of egg white. ๐Ÿ˜› Thanks for the link!

Christy September 30, 2008 um 8:50 am

Oh wow…your last photo is stunning!! I love all the colours and the subtle background print coming from the dress. Beautiful phots, Helen!! And macarons too, as always!

Anonymous September 30, 2008 um 9:14 am

Someday I will try to make these for myself. They look so beautiful (I love the last picture), so many things to make, so little time!

MyKitchenInHalfCups September 30, 2008 um 9:52 am

Ahh man Helen the flavors your fridge put together right down to the cloves!
I love how these are just so easy for you to whip these off wrists that have registered nuances of repeating motions for years! That these can be such an after thought for you and then be so exotic for me!
At least mornings are cool here now, enough that I believe we will have fall.

Anonymous September 30, 2008 um 9:57 am

How a perfect macaron!!!

Chris September 30, 2008 um 10:36 am

Great combo of flavors! And thanks for the link to the patterns! I am a sucker for adding new things to my "toolbox". ๐Ÿ™‚

Botacook September 30, 2008 um 10:44 am

Whaou j’hallucine! Cette recette est gรฉniale, moi qui adore les courges en + ๐Ÿ™‚

LizNoVeggieGirl September 30, 2008 um 11:25 am

"Pears replaced cherries and figs turned into dates. Expected."

Yes, this IS expected; but it’s a tragedy!! I sorely miss my beloved cherries and figs :0( But on a positive note, hooray for pumpkins!! Especially since YOU, the baking genius, turned them into delicious macaroons :0)

Marija September 30, 2008 um 12:17 pm

I love the photo with a woman holding the macarons! It’s so ethereal! Beautiful, beautiful macarons!

Bridget September 30, 2008 um 12:20 pm

These so look beautiful! Someday I am going to try these! ๐Ÿ™‚

The Food Librarian September 30, 2008 um 12:37 pm

Absolutely beautiful! And the template sounds like a great idea…one day I’ll make these.

Parisbreakfasts September 30, 2008 um 12:41 pm

I love the saffron& pumpkin combo.
And I love the ribbons& macaron combo.
All happy marriages IMO.
Oh and the Helene & macaron combo is unbeatable!

Anonymous September 30, 2008 um 12:51 pm

we are getting back on the same wavelenghth. I was just talking to the hubby about making some special saffron macarons. It’s great to add it to the shells. And this makes for a great touch-of-autumn flavor with the pumpkin.
Great job, my friend!

Jennie September 30, 2008 um 1:11 pm

These get my motor running! I think I’ll try them with some dried calendula instead of saffron (calendula is an easy homegrown substitute for saffron). Question though, did you use the flesh from that little white pumpkin (I think that variety is called "Baby Boo" – how cute, yes?)…I didn’t realize you could cook with the flesh of those little decorative gourds and pumpkins. I will have to try it!

Anonymous September 30, 2008 um 1:13 pm

Saffron and pumpkin — how autumnal! Two of my favorite flavors. I bet I would love these.

Sylvie September 30, 2008 um 1:15 pm

Absolutely stunning!

Maria September 30, 2008 um 1:40 pm

What a special treat for fall. Your macarons amaze me! They are always so gorgeous!!

Sara September 30, 2008 um 1:49 pm

Yum – you are so creative!

Anonymous September 30, 2008 um 1:58 pm

mariage intรฉressant que celui que tu proposes … pourquoi pas !
encore une tentation pour nous pauvres lecteurs … ;-)))

Clumbsy Cookie September 30, 2008 um 2:07 pm

Maybe macarrons it’s an Helen’s thing! What a great idea! And the flavours you chose on yours? Perfect! Forget about eating one with coffee, I’m sure I could eat that all box!

Eileen September 30, 2008 um 2:29 pm

These look amazing Helen.

Alexa September 30, 2008 um 2:32 pm

I love it Helen when you bring up things like "quesaco"… It brings up a cascade of warmth from my childhood. Your pumpkin macarrons are beautiful. I am going to have to try my hands at it one of these days. I cannot resist a good pumpkin sweet–such a weird concept for someone who did not grow up eating pumpkin except in an occasional couscous.

Gretchen Noelle September 30, 2008 um 2:55 pm

Beautiful macarons! They sound perfect for fall!

Anonymous September 30, 2008 um 3:11 pm

These sound just wonderful. I love the idea of combining saffron and pumpkin.

Anonymous September 30, 2008 um 3:32 pm

I highly doubt you could ever be "creepy odd" but then again should that be the case just try not to assault the stock-boys with day old baguettes.
Saffron and pumpkin, I never would have thought…but as always, Thanks to you, it makes perfect sense!

Helene September 30, 2008 um 3:44 pm

Jennie: I love that little white pumpkin so much that I have not used it yet. I used the flesh of too little orange ones.

Anonymous September 30, 2008 um 4:23 pm

Helen I wish I couldl knock on your house door and say trick a treat, because these sound perfect! look beautiful!

Anonymous September 30, 2008 um 4:51 pm

Your macarons are just beautiful! I must try to make them some time. Pumpkin and saffron sounds delicious!

Anonymous September 30, 2008 um 5:09 pm

Oh, my, what a combination! Sweet and salty! Reminds me of a type of Japanese sweet-salty confection. And I love the colour from the saffron! They are so adorable! Now I just have to wait for the pumpkin to show up at the grocer… This has to be tried, I swear (not in a bad way). I am just too curious of the taste and the colours!

Thank you so much for the reference, Helen. I hope the templates do help take away some, if not all, macaron-making anxiety for your fans.

Deborah September 30, 2008 um 5:24 pm

It doesn’t feel like fall here, yet, but I’m sure these would put me in the mood!!

That Girl September 30, 2008 um 5:32 pm

I didn’t think I could love your macarons more, until now when you used my favorite ingredient!

Aimรฉe September 30, 2008 um 6:10 pm

I had to smile at your attempts to get in the 'fall' mood. Wish I could ship some frost and red leaves down to you.
There are spectacular! Love the sweet photo of you holding the box of treats and that apron is just the sweetest thing!

Lori September 30, 2008 um 6:14 pm

I didnt know you could cook that either. How cool is that! Now I have to check it out and experiment. You are so my inspiration! You Jenyu and Aran always have such inspirational ideas!

I love that pick with the macarons in a box. Love the colors of your dress (or whoevers) and the colors of the macarons.

I wish I could hear you pronounce them.

Manger La Ville September 30, 2008 um 6:51 pm

These sound and look incredible. Actually I plan on trying to make macaroons for the first time, so thanks for the download. It will make my life a lot easier.

LyB September 30, 2008 um 6:56 pm

I don’t think I could cut up that cute little white pumpkin either! Leave it to you to make the perfect Fall macarons! I’m so happy Fall is here, I’ve been baking bread like crazy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Vanillaorchid September 30, 2008 um 7:33 pm

I love your macarons.. they are always perfect.

glamah16 September 30, 2008 um 7:52 pm

Perfect Fall macarons. This time is year is so inspiring.

montague September 30, 2008 um 8:28 pm

such an interesting, unique combo! sounds yummy!

Fit Chick September 30, 2008 um 9:47 pm

I made a template the first time I made my macarons; I thought I was being a bit on the OCD side and didn’t tell anyone, LOL. Since I was in the graphic design for many years I still have a wide printer (24″) at home and made the template to fit my sheet pan. I will be trying your macaron recipe soon, love saffron and pumpkin.

Zoe Francois September 30, 2008 um 9:56 pm

Absolutely fantastic and creative. I can’t wait to try them.

Anonymous September 30, 2008 um 11:48 pm

We’ve starting seeing mini Squashes in shops here too.
I’d never think of something this beautiful though.

Nice job.

Vera October 1, 2008 um 2:31 am

What an original idea, Helen! And absolutely gorgeous photos!

cindy* October 1, 2008 um 2:43 am

i love fall time! these looks lovely and so tasty. and great links as well!

Cakebrain October 1, 2008 um 3:35 am

I wish I could think as creatively as you when it comes to macaron flavourings! What a cool concept! They look perfect for an adult Hallowe’en party!

Anita (Married… with dinner) October 1, 2008 um 5:39 am

I am terrifically behind in my blog reading (and -writing) but I couldn’t wait to tell you how gorgeous those photos are… wow. I don’t even like pumpkin but I would lick the screen! ๐Ÿ˜€

Y October 1, 2008 um 5:43 am

I love the idea of Autumn inspired macarons. The flavours in this one sound soo tasty ๐Ÿ™‚

Mrs.French October 1, 2008 um 6:07 am

lovely…I find your macarons inspiring…never has a macaron done that to me before. xo

Anonymous October 1, 2008 um 8:14 am

Cream cheese pumpkin … it sounds great to me ๐Ÿ™‚ what a fantastic idea !!!!!

Breadpitt October 1, 2008 um 12:31 pm

like both of the ingrdient but nv thought of matching them together, lovely…!

grace October 1, 2008 um 12:36 pm

they’re so delicate and lovely! i recently had a dip composed of pumpkin and cream cheese and ended up eating it by the spoonful. these little puppies sound terrific. ๐Ÿ™‚

Patricia Scarpin October 1, 2008 um 1:05 pm

You, my friend, is making me think of fall even though it’s spring here. And spring is my favorite season!
I love the idea of mixing pumpkin and saffron. These beauties are making me curious, Helen!

Oh, and just so you know it, you will be the "cute" odd lady. ๐Ÿ˜‰

RecipeGirl October 1, 2008 um 1:08 pm

What a terrific idea for a pumpkin dessert. You always put together such perfect little macarons!

And that little jar of saffron is a rich treat!

Mรณnica Pinto October 1, 2008 um 2:57 pm

So beautiful!
Such lovely colors and tastes!

Anonymous October 1, 2008 um 4:49 pm

Helen, lovely idea and gorgeous photos, as always. I have cooked everything under the sun EXCEPT macarons, but now I really must give these a go. Thank you for the inspiration!

please sir October 1, 2008 um 6:08 pm

YUM – those look amazing – so yummy! You should go to Liberty in April!

Irene October 1, 2008 um 6:34 pm

Those are the cutest, prettiest little things ever! I just want to give them a hug ๐Ÿ™‚

Mallory Elise October 1, 2008 um 6:47 pm

hooray! autumn, and pumpkin everything! as usual your innovation is annoyingly amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

Snooky doodle October 1, 2008 um 7:10 pm

you always amaze me with the creative recipes you do. This look so s good and are so great for this time of year ๐Ÿ™‚

limonana October 1, 2008 um 7:18 pm

what an unusual mix of flavors in a macaron! it look like the stuff of dreams…

Ivy October 1, 2008 um 7:23 pm

Is there anything you ca’t do perfectly?

You should be on Iron chef or something. Next Food Network star. ๐Ÿ™‚

I love the two pictures of pumpkin and saffron side by side. I love it!

Kajal@aapplemint October 1, 2008 um 7:23 pm

you have pretty hands for a baker darlin … hehe or maybe i cannot see the cuts n burns ๐Ÿ™‚ Pretty macarons, pretty box, pretty apron !

Cakespy October 2, 2008 um 1:23 am

OMG what a perfect flavor! Welcome fall indeed, with this deliciousness!!

Jen Yu October 2, 2008 um 1:49 am

I love that you and your friends are so clever. Is there any macaron you cannot make? These are simply stunning in color/flavor. I am getting all giddy about pumpkin this and pumpkin that. Weeeeeeeeeee!

creampuff October 2, 2008 um 2:04 am


I bet Mr. Tartelettey enjoyed eating these. I didn’t get to taste one.


Sylvia October 2, 2008 um 2:16 am

Stunning mix of flavors, and a great combination for sure.I love saffron,unfortunately I never made macarons, I had a kind of panic and fear to fail.Silly ,isn’t?But one day I must try

L Vanel October 2, 2008 um 6:15 am

The colors in this post are beautiful.

jenniferhoiyin October 2, 2008 um 6:28 am

Love the macarons, the apron, and you could never be creepy nor odd. Although weird and wonderful are not a bad thing, I think. ๐Ÿ™‚

The templates are officially bookmarked. I admit to being one who has been too afraid to try these although I’ve always had the yearning to. This recipe is the one for me.

I’m also most definitely sporting sweaters and wishing for wellies in the 70 and 80 degree weather in my neck of the woods.

Babeth October 2, 2008 um 6:46 am

Really cute macarons and right into the season

My Sweet & Saucy October 2, 2008 um 7:15 am

I am loving the new desserts for the change of seasons! These look loving

Liska October 2, 2008 um 11:10 am

So perfect!

ley October 2, 2008 um 1:35 pm

Those are beautiful macarons. I love the flavour, too!

Cookie baker Lynn October 3, 2008 um 3:05 am

Your macarons are always so lovely and you have such a creative flair for combining flavors. These sound just perfect for fall. (Good luck with the cherry recipes, too!)

Kitchen M October 3, 2008 um 3:51 am

Colors of macarons & pumpkin match perfectly! ๐Ÿ™‚
Looks great as always.

Nic October 3, 2008 um 11:46 am

Great idea to use templates.
These macarons are just beautiful – and that filling is so perfect for this time of year.

Nantucket Mermaid October 3, 2008 um 1:08 pm

Yum! I will try this for sure!

Camille October 3, 2008 um 2:11 pm

I love autumn, because I love pumpkins…soup, cookies, cakes,ice cream and, of course, pies.

I think macarons inspired by your recipe may find its way onto the adult dessert table for my son’s Halloween birthday party.

Fifi Flowers October 3, 2008 um 3:40 pm

Those sound INCREDIBLE! I want some NOW! One of these days… MAYBE I will try to make these… or get my mom to make them for me… I cannot go without tasting these… mouth watering!

Jaime October 4, 2008 um 2:55 am

your macarons always look amazing. it never ceases to amaze me the flavors you find to make them in.

oh and how you manage to keep beautifully manicured nails while working in the kitchen is beyond me ๐Ÿ˜‰

Peabody October 4, 2008 um 8:23 am

What a grown up pumpkin dessert…love it! Love it.

Anonymous October 5, 2008 um 3:12 am

I love the colors and the flavor combination sounds so sophisticated. I am going to give macarons another go. You are just so creative.

Anonymous October 5, 2008 um 8:04 am

This is absolutely divine, beautiful and the pumkin and saffron certainly sounds delicious!

Rebecca October 5, 2008 um 11:11 pm

Absolutely stunning! What an absolutely inspiring combination of flavors and textures.

Anonymous October 6, 2008 um 7:19 am

Oh, my! These must be as delicious as beatiful. This pumpkin-saffron mix sounds great.

Andrea October 7, 2008 um 12:28 pm

Helen, Your macaroon never cease to amaze and inspire me. I gave you an award to say thank you on my blog.

Anonymous October 8, 2008 um 1:34 am

That’s awesome. brownie-filled rice krispy treat? Fun!

Ellemay October 8, 2008 um 5:29 am

I ate my first macaron the other day. It was heaven.

Saffron and pumpkin??

Will be trying soonish I think. Thanks for the recipe!!

Dalybeth October 9, 2008 um 9:27 am

Macaroons on my Birthday! The Beautiful pictures make my day since I can’t taste them. My present was your help to know how to make them myself.

Vanessa October 13, 2008 um 6:49 am

I have never made a macaron, but am obsessed with the idea. Problem is I am so busy with my cake business to try!!!
One question. With al those fresh and diary fillings, how do you store, and most importantly to me, sell them?
I do a market stall at times and have trouble with choosing things to take because of refridgeration issues but loved the idea of doing macarons for christmas. One big problem, I live in Australia.
Any advice on how to make and store these would be greatly appreciated. I do use eskys in summer.
[email protected]

Susan from Food Blogga October 14, 2008 um 1:35 am

Leave it to you to come up with such an original flavor combination, Helen. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mike of Mike's Table October 14, 2008 um 2:04 am

I’m always in awe of your macarons and the elegant flavors you choose for them. Plus, you do such a fantastic job styling them. They look great

Toujours Dimanche October 23, 2008 um 11:02 pm

Quelle lumiรจre! Merci pour ce rรฉgal visuel.

Anonymous December 5, 2008 um 11:54 pm

Your macarons are always so beautiful!! Can you help me? I made them today and they have spots after I take them out of the oven. Did I not bake them long enough?
or too Much? I bake them in convection at 325 for 12 min.

Anonymous December 28, 2008 um 6:43 pm

The link to the template is unavailable, is there another link?

Helene December 28, 2008 um 7:21 pm

Rabbit-heart: unfortunately the author has closed her blog permanently.

SJK September 16, 2009 um 5:49 pm

I just made these for the first time, and they are delicious! However, I my macaron shells were a dainty vanilla color, not orange, despite the saffron. Do you use food coloring?

Helene September 17, 2009 um 3:03 am

SJK: nope, no food coloring. I notice that saffron loses in strength with age and there are also different kinds of saffron. One thing you might want to try if you make them again, is to let the saffron stand in the egg whites for an hour or so to deepen the color.

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