Calling everyone with a nut allergy – nut-free macarons are not just a possibility, they’re also totally delicious! Traditionally made with almond meal, ground pumpkin seeds can be used as a simple replacement, and the outcome is completely delicious.
Even after making various batches of macarons, I have to be perfectly frank and admit that I’m still no expert. Even almond macarons are notoriously tricky little beasts, and these nut-free ones are just as temperamental. The humidity of your kitchen, hot spots in your oven and a huge number of other factors will all affect your final outcome. That said, even slightly misshapen macarons with uneven feet are still delicious, and I’d recommend having a go!
Make sure your pumpkin seeds are ground really finely. Usually I skip sieving any baking ingredients, but here you really don’t want to miss this step. In fact, I sieve them a few times to get rid of any larger chunks. The really tricky part is adding the dry ingredients to the meringue, and is called ‘macaonage’. I watched a great youtube video from Indulge with Mimi a few times to really get this part right (thanks Mimi!).
As I said, I’m not an expert, and I really recommend reading Adriano Zumbo’s trouble shooting guide, which goes into a lot of detail and offers solutions for most common problems. I used the ingredient ratio from Stella Parks, experimenting with mixing types, oven temperature and times. I’d really recommend checking her recipe and blog out.
Fillings are a key part of macarons, and I’ve tried several. Here I’ve suggested an earl grey tea infused buttercream, mainly because I had some left over from a cake I was already making! They’re also delicious with passionfruit ganache, and for those of you who want to fully acknowledge the pumpkin in all its glory, buttercream with pumpkin puree added in. Make sure you leave the filled macarons in the fridge for a day or so two, as it really improves the flavour and texture (obviously you’ll eat between some and all of them before this point, which is why I don’t have an accurate idea of how many this recipe makes – oops!).
As someone who has never actually eaten a traditional macaron due to my nut allergy, I’m not best placed to endorse my macarons, but everyone who has tried them has found them really delicious. The flavour of pumpkin seeds is distinguishable, but subtle, and really tasty. I’d hugely recommend giving these macarons a go. They may slightly tricky little beasts, but they’re totally worth it for something special.
Recipe: Nut-free Macarons with Earl Grey Infused Chocolate Buttercream
115g pumpkin seed meal, finely ground (made from roasted seeds), and sieved twice
230g icing sugar
21g malt powder (I used a supermarket malt drink powder, as Ovaltine has coconut oil in)
7g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
144g egg whites (I used both fresh and carton egg whites and got the same result)
72g icing sugar
Ingredients: Earl Grey Infused Chocolate Buttercream
50ml whole milk (semi skimmed would be fine)
1 heaped tsp loose leaf earl grey tea leaves (I used Blue Lady Earl Grey from Wilkinsons of Norwich)
100g butter, room temperature
300g icing sugar
40g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
- First do some prep. Preheat the oven to 140C (depending on your oven you may need to adjust by 10-20 degrees. On two pieces of greaseproof paper draw circles in pencil – I used a small cookie cutter for speed. Flip over the paper and put on top of your baking trays. Put a circle tip on a piping bag and leave to one side.
- Sieve together the pumpkin seed meal, 230g icing sugar, malt powder and cocoa until combined. Set to one side.
- Now you need to make a really still meringue. Beat together the eggs whites, 72g icing sugar, salt and vanilla in a stand mixer. Beat on low for a few minutes until combines, then medium for 3-4 minutes, and high for another 3-4 minutes until you have a really stiff meringue mix.
- Add 1/3 of the dry ingedients and fold together gently until combined. Now add the rest of the dry ingredients and fold. Using a spatula, press and smear the mixture along the side of the bowl to press air out, until it flows off the spatula, but still leaves trails for a few seconds on the top of the mixture.
- Transfer the mix to your piping bag, and pipe out your mix into the draw circles, holding the bag vertical at all times. Grab each tray and hit against the side a good few times. I hit twice, then turned my tray 90 degrees and repeat, until I’ve hot twice on each side. This removes air bubbles. Leave uncovered at room temperature for at least 30mins to form a skins.
- Bake for 14-18 minutes a tray until they peel off the sheet easily, and the top is dry to the touch. Leave to dry. If the inside is at all tacky, pop in the fridge until cold and they’ll peel back more easily.
- Then make the buttercream. Put the milk and tea in a small pan and heat gently until it starts to simmer. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse and cool for 15-30 mins. Strain the tea leaves out.
- In a stand mixer, beat the butter, icing sugar, cocoa and salt until the butter is no longer in visible lumps. Now add the milk a few tbsp at a time until the frosting comes together. Turn the mixture and beat for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. The colour will lighten as more air is whipped into it. Scoop into a piping bag.
- To assemble the macaron, pair up shells which match best in terms of size and shape. On one shell, pipe concentric circles of buttercream and gently press the top shell on top. If you’re feeling fancy, brush a line of gold edible paint across the top shell of each macaron.
- Put in an airtight tub in the fridge in a single layer and leave for at least a day. Bring back to room temperature before eating for maximum flavour.