Guest Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Bread

Paris this week has been blessed with an incredible Indian Summer. It’s hard to believe it’s Autumn but hey, let’s not complain! We’re supposed to hit 30°C today so the weekend is beckoning us to eat outside. We’re finally getting that August weather we never had.

Today you are all in for a treat.  I am thrilled to have the gorgeous, glowingly healthy, Kelly Hunt join us from Eat Yourself Skinny.

Why is she so healthy looking?  I’m sure her tempting eat-yourself-skinny recipes may just have something to do with it. En plus, although she has a love-hate relationship with running, she still manages to conquer the odd marathon. My favourite part, though, is that she not only adores her food but enjoys her wines, too. How lucky to have so many fabulous wineries in Virginia on her doorstep!

Ladies and gentlemen, macaronivores, let me hand you over to Kelly – she is about to share something particularly fabulous with us to welcome Autumn.

Kelly Hunt


Hello there lovely readers of Mad About Macarons!  I’m Kelly from Eat Yourself Skinny and I’m so excited to be sharing with you all today!  When Jill first asked me to guest post, I was beyond flattered and completely honored!  I mean c’mon guys, you read her posts every day…her pictures are gorgeous, her writing is witty and let’s face it, she has her own book!!  What in the world could I put together that would even be comparable to the lovely goodies she makes each day and keep you from clicking that little “x” at the top of your screen!
Well I decided to go with something Fall and festive!  I give you my Pumpkin Spice Bread and boy was this delicious!  As most of you know, there seems to be a serious shortage on canned pumpkin this year (read my rant here) so attempting to find this necessity was quite the task, to say the least.  If you do come across some friends, {trust me} STOCK UP!!
pumpkin spiced loaf recipe

Anyway, I absolutely loved the combination of flavors in this bread.  You have cinnamon, pumpkin, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves…ahem, need I go on??  This really turned out incredible, was perfectly moist and tasted sensationally sweet!

Have I sold you yet??

Well if not, the best part is this only takes about 10 minutes to whip up and is extremely easy! Enjoy a slice for breakfast in the morning or wrap up as great gifts for your family and friends.  I brought this particular loaf to my office to share with my co-workers and I’m happy to say there was none left!!  Feel free to add nuts or dried fruit to your mix for a great variation.

Did I mention I absolutely LOVE this time of year??  It doesn’t get much better than scarves, spiced lattes and the sweet aroma of delicious pumpkin bread!  Hope you all enjoy this as much as I did!

Pumpkin Spice Bread



spicy pumpkin bread recipe


Here are your ingredients:
Recipe adapted from Bella So Savvy

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan and set aside.

Mix sugar, baking soda, spices and flour together in a large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients, blending well.  Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then invert onto cooling rack until completely cooled.  Enjoy!

pumpkin bread recipe


Thanks again Jill for inviting me to your fabulous blog to guest post!

Feel free to stop by my little bloggy anytime for more delicious recipes or even just to say hi!


Merci beaucoup, Kelly. I’m heading out to grab that pumpkin (we’ll just have to make our own purée since the French haven’t thought of this one!) and make this as soon as I can. Your colleagues are so lucky to have you around to taste this beauty, Kelly. Don’t forget to check out Eat Yourself Skinny for many more recipes and say bonjour from me!  Enjoy your weekend.

Update: Apologies to all those who wanted to leave a comment and couldn’t.

We’ve had some crazy server problems so things have gone willy wonky.

Thanks so much for your patience!


French Mushroom and Truffle Macarons of the Season

There has been a definite change in the air over the past 10 days around Paris.  The first sign of autumnal golden leaves are appearing. Slowly but surely.

first sign of Autumn trees


The sun has been shining but jings, the wind has had more of a mistral effect from the French South than anything else. When that strikes, a 20°C sunny day can feel like you’re in the north of Scotland. And I know what that feels like.

Mornings are becoming chilly; it’s time to put on that coat and admire the colourful scarves making their first fashionable autumnal appearances on the sidewalk. I’m not so sure it’s that fashionable: they’re covering up the first signs of a sore throat. The French always wear scarves to accompany throat infections. It’s vraiment cute.

wild mushrooms in the garden - not for eating

first mushroom in the garden – but not for eating!

When Jamie and Deeba posted the MacTweets Mac Attack #23 Challenge for September, it was something that brought back the warm to the cockles.  After 4 months of summer dilly-dallying, it was high time I joined in some seasonal fun.  The challenge was to celebrate the change of seasons through our passion de macarons.

giant tiramisu macarons with marsala figs


This past couple of weeks, we’ve been enjoying the brief period of French figs with a quick and easy fig tart and roasted marsala figs with giant coffee macarons and tiramisu cream.


Equinox last week seemed to have an affect on my baking habits this time, however…

… Which axis were my macarons headed for MacTweets?

mini mushroom and truffle macarons for the change of season


Pumpkins are gradually appearing but they are not quite there yet.  Right now the French markets are proudly displaying mountains of marvelous mushrooms in all shapes and sizes, to herald the start of Autumn.  Cepes, trompettes, pieds de mouton, girolles, champignons de Paris and chestnut mushrooms are displayed in all their glory.  We even discovered more (this time edible) mushrooms dans le jardin.

mushroom macarons growing in garden


Let’s take that one again…

from another angle…

Parisian macaron mushroom

A macaron mushroom!

You guessed right.  Well, I am officially Mad about Macarons, n’est-ce pas?  You are looking at cepes, chestnut mushroom and truffle macarons, inspired by the earth and its axis at this time of year en France.

I followed the same principle as the other savoury mad macs in the book regarding ratio of liquid and cornflour in the filling. I fried some chestnut and cepes mushrooms until they sweated off all their liquid and infused them into the cream, finally blitzing the whole lot and adding a dash of good quality truffle oil.  The chocolate dusting on the shells is 100% Belgian chocolate without any sugar. Don’t forget to dust the shells after airing, just before they go in the oven.

macarons mushroom out of oven

Et voilà.  I also added just a touch of cayenne in there to give it a kick. We all love macarons with feet but why not give a bit of a kick to them, too? 😉

They are great on their own served as an apéritif with hazelnuts and with a chilled white wine from the Jura, for example.  I tried this – especially as it’s the Foire aux Vins just now so need to taste if wines are any good or not before buying more – and they got the thumbs up. Or why not serve them along with some creamy mushroom soup? That certainly gets the conversation going at the dinner table.  In any case, you’ll find yourself on another axis when sharing this with friends.

mini mad mac mushroom

Life is too short to stuff a mushroom – make a mini mad mac

Thanks again to Jamie and Deeba of MacTweets for providing us macaronivores with yet another month of macaron inspiration!

Enjoy the new season!

Roasted Figs in Marsala with Giant Tiramisu Macarons

They can say what they like.

I do give a fig.

Fig. Season. Is. Far. Too. Short.

For some reason, I can only find the smallish sweet, purple “mission” variety at the local market.  If I want green ones, I have to steal them from the neighbour’s tree that trespasses on to the street. But bien sûr, I would never do that.  The other neighbours always get there before me.

I’m flinging figs in so many savoury dishes just now.  Following the touch of orange blossom in my Fig Tart Recipe, here’s another of my favourite quick fig desserts. It’s so gorgeously simple, it’s not even a recipe. The sauce ends up syrupy thick out of the oven, as long as you don’t put too much Marsala in there and add that knob of butter. Go on, spoil yourself.

Roasted Figs in Marsala

Did you know they have a high source of calcium as well as fibre?

If you’re serving these figs on their own, I recommend adding a touch of lavender since it’s in abundance in the garden just now. I had completely forgotten to cut them as they were flowering and so they have dried up but boy, their fragrance is like walking into a crowd-wrestling tourist shop in Provence, with mechanical crick-crick-crickets, herbes de Provence and lavender bags lining the walls.

Otherwise simply drizzle with Marsala and honey. They’re a real treat when accompanying Giant Coffee Macarons with Tiramisu Cream (see page 116 of the book).

giant tiramisu macarons with marsala figs

Roasted Figs in Marsala

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Chilling Time: 30 minutes

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Halve some plump purple figs, place them cut-side up in a roasting tin.
  2. Drizzle with a few tbsps of sweet Marsala (or sweet sherry), some runny honey and a knob of butter.
  3. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

Leave to cool before serving.

 This can also be a more original partner with the cheese course before dessert (in France, dessert comes after the cheeseboard, unlike in the UK.)  Enjoy with a good roquefort or gorgonzola. In fact, just make it the cheese and dessert course in one. That way it keeps all guests happy!


If you didn’t pig out on the cheese course, then you could go that double whammy of ice cream and top with crushed amaretti if you have no macarons left – which was the case here one evening.

No macarons left? What a shocker!


To round up this week’s figgy posts, let me say un grand merci to Visda of Eat, Drink and Just Be!for nominating le blog of Mad About Macarons for an award. You have made my day, thank you!

With no macarons left – even in my freezer bank – it has been time to remedy this fast, especially as Jamie and Deeba have posted an interesting seasonal MacTweet macaron challenge. Don’t forget to pop in on Monday when I have a very different plate of macarons to share with you. Remember you can sign up for free to receive le blog directly to your email account so you never miss a post. Bon weekend!

Quick and Easy Fig Tart Recipe

When Mardi asked me to guest post on her blog, I was so excited.  Imagine being asked to do something for Eat.Live.Travel.Write?  When Mardi was last in Paris, we met up for goûter or quatre heures. What a wonderful afternoon we spent together, indulging on a selection of light but decadent pastries at Un Dimanche à Paris. Mardi had no hesitation choosing the spoon-clinging hot chocolate and myself, a pot of Ceylon Earl Grey which arrived with a timer and instructions to infuse the giant teabag for no more than 4 minutes.

merveilleux pastry from Un Dimanche à Paris

The “Merveilleux” pastry from Un Dimanche à Paris

Quatre minutes when you’re sharing funny stories of life in Paris?  We didn’t see the time pass so I’m sure any tea gourmets would have held their hands up in horror.  So, Mardi – next time you come to Paris this pastry jaunt has to be made into a ritual. We have to do this for our readers’ sake, n’est-ce pas?

Mardi’s readers are no stranger to French cuisine.  She always cooks up a storm in her kitchen – including macarons – to perfection.  So what could I serve up to her friends?  With such a short fig season here, I’m currently adding figs to so many dishes.

plate of figs

Who gives a fig?

At our local market in Saint Germain-en-Laye (just outside Paris) these figs are set out like jewels, individually nested in their crates begging, just try me for ripeness. Pick figs that are ripe but firm enough to the touch.  That way it will be easier to cut them into thin slices.

One of my personal favourites is this fig tart. It’s pretty to look at but light enough with a pot of Oolong orange blossom tea for Quatre Heures.  That way there’s still room for dinner! It’s so quick and simple to make plus easy to cut. The addition of orange blossom water gives it that extra je ne sais quoi to the almond and honey base.

For that extra taste of France, I love to scatter just one dried lavender flower to the tart once it comes out of the oven.  Or sprinkle on a few flaked almonds.

Fig Tart

Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Baking Time: 20 minutes

Round of ready-made puff pastry
12-15 purple plump figs (ripe but firm enough to cut neatly)
60g ground almonds (almond flour)
2 tbsp runny honey
1 egg
2 tsp orange flower water

1.  On a baking sheet lined with greaseproof baking paper, prick the pastry with a fork and score a border 1cm in from the edge using a knife.  Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 200°C.

2. Wash, dry and cut the figs finely, using a good sharp knife.

3. Beat the egg and honey with a whisk in a bowl until light and creamy.  Add the ground almonds and orange flower water.  Using a spatula, spread the mix on the pastry.

4. Place the figs in rounds on the pastry.  Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

If only the fig season lasted longer but the good news is that you can freeze the tart for up to a month.

This was published as a guest post over at EatLiveTravelWrite.
I turned off comments on my side, since out of respect for my guest post, if you’d like to say something, head on over to see the delicious comments chez Mardi!

Guest Post over at EatLiveTravelWrite

Calling all tea experts.  Or perhaps not.  You may hold your hands up in absolute horror to hear two passionate foodies indulge in pastries and actually forget to infuse the Ceylon Earl Grey for exactly 4 minutes, according to the precise instructions by the Parisian server.

But we’ve got over it now. Time to move on.

Today I’m thrilled to be a guest over in Canada chez Mardi’s blog, EatLiveTravelWrite.

The kettle is boiled, tea at the ready and
I’m baking a French Fig Tart.

Head on over for the recipe and we’ll save you a slice.

Crispy Papaya Nests, Prawns, and Skinny Sweet Potato Fries

I’m not into fried foods. It’s like an unspoken rule to avoid them at home since we try to eat healthily, s’il vous plaît. But who needs rules when you have a dish presented before you like this one?  When it came to Chef Ton’s Crispy Papaya Salad on holiday in Thailand, we took a different view on fried foods.  Things changed back home in our kitchen and the deep frier was no longer a hidden appliance in the corner.

thai fried prawns

Staying at Bain Sairee on Koh Samui island, we were surrounded by such lush vegetation. These papayas were picked when still green – not left to ripen into the sweet, orangey flesh as we know it.

papaya trees

As you can see, the papaya’s flesh was still white.  The other ingredients Ton used were so simple: a couple of tomatoes, limes, some unsalted cashew nuts, giant prawns, tamarind sauce and some tempura flour.

The papaya was shredded finely and tossed lightly in the tempura flour.  At the local Tesco Lotus supermarket up the road, tempura flour was so easy to find – ready prepared. No water was added, just a light dusting was all it took.

Then the papaya strands were deep fried for just a few minutes – keeping a eye on them until they reached a beautiful golden colour – then drained on kitchen paper.

The prawns were then given exactly the same treatment.

prawns in tempura batter

Chef Ton’s smile, as you can see, was contagious.

Thailand chefs

Then to finish up while the prawns were draining, Ton prepared the quickest, tangy sauce to serve alongside it.  Pounding the tomato in a mortar, he squeezed in the juice of the limes and added the tamarind sauce.

thai tomato sauce

This was so quick to prepare and definitely something I wanted to try as soon as we returned home – so here I got to it!

Papaya, however, was the problem to find here.  Instead, I substituted it with sweet potato.  I tried them Ton’s way, coating in the tempura flour – then another time without it.  They worked out great even on their own, as the sweet potato was drier.

My prawns were nothing like the same size as Ton’s Thai versions.  Mine were so small that to compensate, I threw in some onion rings and coated them in the tempura flour to add that extra taste..

And for the sauce, mortar-fied I couldn’t find the right tamarind sauce in a hurry, I added some fresh coriander (cilantro), some fish sauce, a good pinch of sugar, and some finely chopped spring onions.

Makes a change from French fries

Delicious! Now we’re hooked on these sweet potato ‘skinny fries’. They form a nest with marinaded curried chicken served with a cucumber salsa.  There’s only one thing missing….

thai red curry mad macarons

Thai red curry macarons. Fab with a G&T

A curry macaron would have gone perfectly with this, Thai green or red?  The recipe is in the Mad Macs savoury chapter in Mad About Macarons …