Last week, I went apple picking with my son and his class, and though we quickly have been eating our way through the bags we collected, I made sure to save enough to make apple-based desserts and dishes: apple tart, apple cake, crumble, applesauce, and even fabulous soups have all been added to the to-do list. I had also been on the lookout for fall-inspired macaron inspiration for a while, so then it hit me: an apple macaron, of course!
Don’t these beautiful macarons remind you of crispy, juicy apples? The shells contain pecans and fall-inspired spices—cinnamon, allspice, and ginger—whereas the buttercream contains diced apples that were slow caramelized in butter and cane sugar. Because I think a clever way to emphazise the flavor of a macaron is to add an additional surprise element, I kept some of the caramelized apples aside and tucked them into the buttercream nests.
The flavor of these Spiced Pecan Macarons with Caramelized Apple Buttercream is intense and soothing. It’s like your favorite apple pie in a single bite. Although you may have previously thought of macarons as comfort food, I assure you that a plate of these served with a nice cup of tea will definitely warm your insides. They make a nice change from classic fall-inspired desserts—and wrapped in a cute box, they’re the perfect hostess gift, too.
Never made French macarons? Here are helpful resources to get you started:
- How to Make French Macarons Video Class
- How to Make Macarons: A Detailed, Illustrated Step-by-Step Recipe
- A Macaron Troubleshooting Guide: Useful Tips and Advice to Master the French Delicacy
- My “All About French Macarons” Page
Makes ABOUT 56 SHELLS, OR 28 ASSEMBLED MACARONS.
Never thought of macarons as comfort food? These macarons will change your mind. They're like your favorite apple pie in a single bite!
Return the egg whites to room temperature at least an hour before making the macarons.
For the macaron shells: In the bowl of a food processor, add the powdered sugar, almond flour, ground pecans, and spices, and process until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated, 30 seconds to a minute. Sift mixture to make sure no lumps or bigger bits of nuts are left.
Whisk the egg whites on medium/high speed until frothy, a minute or two, then slowly pour in the granulated sugar. Keep on beating until the egg whites are stiff, dense and creamy. Mix in red gel food coloring until you reach the shade you’re looking for.
Delicately fold in the nuts/sugar mixture in 2 or 3 additions. Slide your spatula all the way to the bottom of the bowl and comes back up several times to make sure no pockets of dry ingredients remain and the color is evenly blended.
Prepare the baking sheet by lining them with parchment paper. Slide macaron templates under the parchment paper, if using.
Transfer the macaron batter in a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch [1.25-cm] round tip. Pipe 1½-inch [3.8-cm] rounds of batter, evenly spaced but still close to one another as they will not expand much.
Carefully slide the macaron templates off the baking sheets, if you used them. Let the shells rest on the baking sheets for 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C) with a rack set to the middle position. Bake the macarons for 18 to 20 minutes, until the macaron shells are firm on their feet.
Let the shells cool completely to room temperature before assembling them, about an hour.
For the caramelized apples: In a large skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter, then whisk in the sugar. Add the apples, and sauté until soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Scoop ½ cup [125 ml] of the caramelized apples into a small bowl and set aside to cool completely. Transfer the remaining apples to a blender. Add the heavy cream and blend to make a very smooth puree (you can also use a stick blender to do this.) Cool the puree completely.
For the buttercream: Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl, if using a hand mixer), and beat for a minute to soften. Add half the powdered sugar and beat on low speed to moisten the sugar, then increase the speed to incorporate fully. Add ¼ cup [60 ml] of the cooled caramelized apple puree, and beat to incorporate fully. Add the remaining powdered sugar, and beat on medium speed until the buttercream is smooth and fluffy. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a size 2 round tip and set aside until ready to assemble the macarons.
To assemble the macarons: Pair same sized shells together and set side by side on a work surface. Pipe some filling over half of the shells, following the circumference of each shell to create a circle of buttercream. Fill each circle with a small quantity of the saved diced caramelized apples. Close the macarons, gently pressing the second shells over the filling.
Store the assembled macarons in an airtight container and refrigerate for one night before indulging.
Always bring the macarons back to room temperature before serving.
- This recipe makes about twice the amount of frosting you need to fill the macarons. Use the remaining frosting to garnish a cake or cupcakes, or freeze it in an airtight container until you make a new batch of macaron shells. Simply defrost to room temperature and whisk vigorously to soften before using.
- You will also have some of caramelized apple puree leftover (a tasty bonus!) Use this delicious treat like you would apple butter: spread over fresh bread or on a croissant.
Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin