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Pumpkin, Sage and Parmesan Financiers

Today the sun is shining again on the city we love so much.  While France is in shock and mourning, some Parisian shops opened this weekend, not giving in to being terrorised.

Paris view from Montmartre by Jill Colonna

Yesterday the skies were grey and all around was so desperately quiet. We stayed indoors, stunned, numbed by such violence, trying to digest what happened in Paris on Friday night. Our thoughts and sincere sympathies are with all those who have lost their precious loved ones.

We can’t even begin to imagine how it must feel. Paris needs our solidarity and support. As we get on with our lives in hope of peace, let’s not give in to fear by continuing to enjoy its beauty, its history, and its culture.

Pumpkin financiers, French savoury cakes

We lost our appetite but somehow steaming hot pumpkin and leek soup were comforting hugs in a bowl. With a bit of pumpkin left roasting in the pan, I rustled up some light, savoury cakes to accompany it.

A Bit of Parisian History – Financiers

I’ve called them Financiers but the only resemblance to the sweet, traditional almond teacake is the oblong moulds used, which are also used by Ladurée in Paris for their financiers. These were the original shape of the teacake before Monsieur Lasne, a rather enterprising pastry chef in the Stock Exchange (la Bourse) area, had the gem of an idea by changing them to gold bar shapes in 1890 for his financial clientele. Recipes for financiers, including a chocolate-hazelnut one, are in Teatime in Paris!

Silicone moulds are my favourite, as there’s no need to grease them before baking and the cakes just fall out on to the cooling rack. They’re best in these financier moulds but you can use any little cake moulds that you have. The pumpkin parmesan financiers are a delicious change to holiday apéritif pre-dinner drinks and, even if they’re quick to make, they also freeze well so ideal for planning ahead.

pumpkin parmesan financiers recipe

Pumpkin Parmesan Financiers

A savoury version of the French buttery teacakes, made with pumpkin, sage and parmesan – perfect party food with festive drinks.

Makes approx. 20 cakes

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20+15 minutes

150g pumpkin, roughly chopped into small chunks
1 tbsp sage, finely chopped
100g olive oil
200g plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs
100g semi-skimmed milk
50g block parmesan, freshly grated
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
20g chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F (gas 4). Put the pumpkin in a roasting tin with half of the sage and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.  Roast for 20 minutes then remove from oven to cool.

2. Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl then, using a balloon whisk, beat in the eggs, olive oil and milk until you have a smooth paste. Add the parmesan, nutmeg, the rest of the sage then gradually whisk in the pumpkin (it will break up with the whisk which is just perfect as it won’t be a purée but tiny bits) and walnuts, if using.

3. Pour into financier silicone moulds (here I used traditional oblong shapes but you can use rectangular financier moulds – or madeleine moulds too) and bake for about 20 minutes until the cakes are golden brown.

Best served on the day but can also be frozen for up to a month to help you plan ahead for your holiday baking. Or prepare the batter the day before and bake when needed.

pumpkin parmesan financiers

To all my American friends – wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving from Paris!

Pumpkin Parmesan Financiers
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 
A savoury version of the French buttery teacakes, made with pumpkin, sage and parmesan - perfect party food with festive drinks.
Course: Snack
Cuisine: French
Servings: 20 cakes
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
  • 150 g / 5oz pumpkin roughly chopped into small chunks
  • 1 tbsp sage finely chopped
  • 100 g / 3.5oz olive oil
  • 200 g / 7oz plain all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 g / 3.5oz semi-skimmed milk
  • 50 g block parmesan freshly grated
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 20 g / 0.75oz chopped walnuts optional
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/360°F (gas 4). Put the pumpkin in a roasting tin with half of the sage and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes then remove from oven to cool.
  2. 2. Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl then, using a balloon whisk, beat in the eggs, olive oil and milk until you have a smooth paste. Add the parmesan, nutmeg, the rest of the sage then gradually whisk in the pumpkin (it will break up with the whisk which is just perfect as it won’t be a purée but tiny bits) and walnuts, if using.
  3. 3. Pour into financier silicone moulds (here I used traditional oblong shapes but you can use rectangular financier moulds – or madeleine moulds too) and bake for about 20 minutes until the cakes are golden brown.
Recipe Notes

Best served on the day but can also be frozen for up to a month to help you plan ahead for your holiday baking. Or prepare the batter the day before and bake when needed.

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

 

Pumpkin Spice Macarons & Roasted Red Kuri Squash Filling

I’m back! And to make up for it I’m presenting you with these pumpkin spice macarons!

Oof! It has been a real marathon so it’s good to be back finally on le blog. These past few months have been  challenging. Juggling the stress of house renovations, a new bricolage world of riveting French DIY vocabulary has blossomed and I’ve even dabbled in some interior design (I made the plans for my office). I realised all this work has left its mark when I found myself glancing at the paint and tile colours in a few Parisian pâtisseries before the cakes!

The most exciting project, of course, has been preparing the new book: writing, recipe testing and taking hundreds of photos … all around teatime. I can’t wait to share its progress with you very soon but as it’s now going through edits and design with Waverley Books, I finally have an excuse to take a tea break and make some pumpkin spice macarons, strictly for le blog and perfect for Autumn!

Pumpkin spice Parisian macarons

I’ve never really understood why the French don’t seem to be that much into pumpkin. Last week at the market in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, I even had a lovely French seller – complete with chic body warmer, hair tied back with scarf – ask ME (yes, I kept pinching myself it was unreal) how to cook mini pumpkins (Jack-be-littles) rather than show them off as decorative items for Autumn.

Pumpkin Purée and Pumpkin Spice

For sweet recipes, there isn’t any pumpkin purée in the French shops, an ingredient that appears to be familiar with most of my American blogger friends at this time of year.  When I looked up some macaron recipes, there wasn’t even any pumpkin in them – instead simply ‘pumpkin pie spice’, another ingredient that’s difficult to find here.  So there was only one thing for it: to make my own pumpkin purée and find a quick spicy alternative.

potimarron or red kuru squash spiced macarons

Potimarron Pumpkins

I set out to grab a giant quarter slice of pumpkin, as they’re normally sold here. With Hallowe’en gradually becoming more popular here with youngsters, giant Jack-o’-lanterns are also more available than before, ready to carve for this Friday’s spooky date.  This year, pumpkins seem to be overshadowed by the smaller potimarron, The Autumn foodie fashion item in the French supermarkets and at our local farmers’ markets just outside Paris.  They’re everywhere!

What’s Potimarron in English? Apparently it’s Red Kuri, Japanese Squash or Orange Hokkaido.  It’s darker than pumpkin without the ridges and has a more intense, even chestnut-like texture and flavour (as the French name implies: marron, meaning chestnut).  What I love about it is, unlike pumpkin, you can even eat the skin!

pumpkin spiced Japanese squash macarons

I remembered a post by David Lebovitz about how to roast potimarron or red kuri squash: he dribbled olive oil over the slices, added herbs and roasted in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 200°C.  I tried this method using potimarron in my favourite pumpkin, leek and ginger soup and it really is delicious.

Inspiration knocked for these pumpkin spice macarons when David mentioned that the Red Kuri squash slices could also be roasted with brown sugar and cinnamon. Instead I used pain d’épices or gingerbread spice, perhaps the French’s closest quick answer to pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger & all-spice powder).  And in case some of you have hands up in horror, wondering why there are no Hallowe’en decorations on these macarons – I’m ridiculously scared of spiders and anything in the least bit squirmish; perhaps I grew up with too many Scottish ghost stories!

roasted red kuri or Japanese squash

Roast me in the oven for nearly 30 mins, covered in brown sugar, pumpkin spice and top with foil

Macaron Fruit Fillings – A Tip!

One word about using fruit purées for macaron fillings: it can make macarons become rather soggy.  One tip is to add ground almonds (almond flour) to soak up the juices which I’ve done here.  The good news with this recipe is that for impatient macaronivores, you can eat this macaron after only 6 hours in the fridge and finish them the next day.  Any longer and they will turn slightly soggy – but the taste is divine and full of healthy, spicy squash! I wouldn’t recommend keeping the pumpkin spice macarons any longer than 2 days or even freezing them as you would for all the macaron recipes in my book.  If you prefer to keep them longer like in the book, use equal quantities of purée, melted white chocolate and whipping cream.

Colouring the meringue for making pumpkin macaron shells

Instructions on how to make the macaron shells are given step-by-step in both my books, Mad About Macarons! and Teatime in Paris! Just add a dash of powdered colouring (I use a pinch of red and yellow) and a teaspoon of pumpkin spice or pain d’épices to the meringue.

pumpkin spice macaron filling with red kuri squash

Top me off with a macaron shell and I’m yours!


Pumpkin Spice Macarons:
Filling with Roasted Red Kuri

This recipe is ideal for serving later in the day.  Just chill in the fridge for 6 hours.  Best eaten within a couple of days. The basic French recipe for macaron shells are well explained in both Mad About Macarons! and Teatime in Paris! (150g egg whites for about 40 macarons).

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: max 35 minutes
Chilling time: min 1 hour

For roasting:

1/2 red kuri squash or Potimarron
2 tbsps brown sugar
3 tsps pumpkin spice or pain d’épices

Cream:

2g sheet of gelatine
2 egg yolks
50g brown sugar
50g whipping cream
100g roasted red kuri purée (half of one red kuri)
2 tsps pumpkin spice or pain d’épices
2 tbsps ground almonds (almond flour)
100g chilled mascarpone

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan.  Cut the kuri squash in 2 and, using only half of it, scoop out the seeds.  Cut into slices and place on a non-stick baking sheet, sprinkling with the brown sugar and spice.  Cover with aluminium foil and roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the slices.  When ready, set aside to cool then purée using a mixer or by hand with a masher.  Weigh out 100g of purée.

2.  For the cream, soak the gelatine in cold water for about 15 minutes.  In a bowl, hand-whisk the yolks and sugar until creamy.  Heat the cream in a saucepan until nearly boiling, then whisk into the yolk mixture then transfer back to the pan over a medium heat, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens (rather like a pastry cream).

3.  Take off the heat, add the gelatine (squeeze of excess water) to the warm cream, whisking until melted then add the purée, ground almonds and spice.  Set aside to cool then chill for about an hour.

4.  Hand-whisk in the mascarpone then transfer the cream to a piping bag with a 1cm plain tip.  Pipe onto half of the shells then assemble with the remaining macaron shell tops and chill in the fridge.

pumpkin spice macarons potimarron red kuri squash

Are you planning to make spooky macarons for Hallowe’en?

Why not share your pumpkin spice macaron – or Hallowe’en inspired macarons with us?  Post them on the Mad About Macarons Facebook page or tag me on Instagram (@madaboutmacarons).  It’s always exciting to see you baking the recipes from my books.

Happy macaron-making!

Lemon Sauce for Roast Chicken and Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

This week the Autumnal chill has hit abruptly, just as much as returning to school routines after the mid-term holiday. Fumbling for lost gloves, I struggle with a new swift boot walk as my feet are in straight-jacketed shock with thick chaussettes.

I have abandoned the attempt to look like the chic French women with their scarves nonchalantly thrown over shoulders. Instead I gravitate towards the magical sizzling chicken rôtisseries dotted along the street on the way to the market.

That was it; roast chicken for a perfectly quick, comforting dinner. Mention chicken in St Germain-en-Laye and there’s only one place to make for at the market: in the central aisle, you’ll find Monsieur Dee. He’s not difficult to find since he pulls the crowds not just for his graceful service but his produce is in another league – such as the enormous duck filets, paupiettes parcels and saucisses de volaille (poultry sausages.)

By the time I arrive, most of the roasted chickens have disappeared. Before I know it, in pops a few extra chicken filets and a customary ‘bouquet du jardin’ of parsley on the house, as he tells me persil is for les dames, pas les hommes. Adoraaable Monsieur Dee!

Jack Be Little Pumpkins

Just across from Monsieur Dee’s sizzling poulet rôtis is la maison Huet, who always put on such a parade of forgotten vegetables that the conversation in the queue is guaranteed to provide an exchange of interesting recipes. Below left are the round Parisian carrots I talked about in this vegetable soup recipe post, but this time I was determined to do something other than use these mini pumpkins as decoration. They’re called Jack Be Little.

How to cook a Jack Be Little: I was told to simply prick it a few times, stick it in the microwave for 3 minutes on full blast, cut the top off, scoop out the seeds and fill the remaining hole with a mixture of emmental cheese, bacon and crème fraîche. That’s it; ridiculously easy and delicious to boot. Instead I filled each mini pumpkin with a mixture of bacon, cooked chestnuts, parmesan, crème fraîche and parsley.

For each individual pumpkin, briefly fry 4 cooked chestnuts, 1 chopped smoked bacon rasher, 1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan, finely chopped parsley, a tablespoon of crème fraîche and season to taste. Fill the cavity with it, then place under a hot grill for a couple of minutes. Then serve with a spoon and mix the whole thing up with the pumpkin flesh at the table.

And the kids’ favourite part to go with the roasted chicken?  A creamy, tart lemon sauce. I’m surprised that my girls would like such a simple sauce so much. What I love about it, is that it’s another way to use up yolks so it’s now added to the growing egg yolk recipe collection. It’s also a lovely sauce to accompany any leftover turkey!

lemon sauce recipe for roast chicken or turkey

Jack Be Little and Jill Be Quick with dinner …

Lemon Sauce Recipe for Roasted Chicken or Turkey

Serves 6

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

200ml chicken stock
3 egg yolks
juice and zest of 1 lemon (untreated)
100ml cream

1. Bring the chicken stock to the boil.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks with the lemon juice, zest and cream in a bowl and gradually whisk the mixture into the hot stock.

3. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens slightly and bubbles.

Lemon sauce for roast chicken or turkey

Monsieur Dee thought we’d be celebrating Thanksgiving since we speak English. As our American friends are gearing up for next week, we’re instead celebrating la fête du Beaujolais Nouveau tonight in France. Apparently this year it’s another fruity success, with a hint of peaches.

Ah, it reminds us of our student days; 21 years ago, I met my Frenchie over a glass of particularly banana-flavoured Beaujolais Nouveau. Although, if you want my opinion, this lemon roast chicken and the pumpkin would partner well with a Gaillac or a Côte du Rhône white. I mean, look what happens after a glass or two of Beaujolais! I ended up haveeeeing to speak French!

Cheers!

 

Leek, Pumpkin and Ginger Soup with Curry Macarons

Happy New Year! Have you all had fun over the festive season? Survived the gargantuan meals? It’s still not over for us yet. With Epiphany on Sunday 8th January, the traditional Galette des Rois are now in all the French pâtisseries and so it’s time to taste all the different variations: plain, chocolate, candied fruits… Admittedly, I prefer to make my own – just to ensure there’s the maximum amount of my favourite frangipane inside, sneak in some fancy trinkets, and change fillings such as this recipe for Praline and Pear Galette des Rois. But I’ve already talked about Epiphany on le blog.

It was good to be back in Scotland over the holidays with the family. Feeling the proudest auntie in the universe, I was introduced to another gorgeously smiling baby niece. Isn’t it amazing how you can easily forget how small they are? Especially when it seems like yesterday when my two girls were born, who are now wee ‘giants’! It’s great to see the wee ones enjoying their food so much, too. No wonder, as Grandpa was serving up his amazing warm homemade bread and Arbroath Smokie Pâté just for starters…

Take a leek or two…

On our return to France, I was listening to a French doctor on the radio, concerned for us all after over-indulging in rich, festive foods. His suggestion? Eat plenty of leeks. Apparently they help to clean out the gut. Trust the French to sound so poetic. With that, I headed straight to our local market and loaded up on leeks.

Are you ready for a tasty clean-out? Then this is the ideal soup to follow the Christmas – New Year extravaganza meals. The hardest part of making this soup is cutting up the pumpkin, but it’s worth the effort since it’s full of iron, zinc, fibre and carotene. Carotene is what we all need at this time of year to bring the glow back to our cheeks, and the ginger gives a great kick-start to 2012, as it’s great for digestion, keeping colds at bay and virility (I keep meaning to ask hubby on that one.)

Bring a healthy glow to kick-start the New Year

Leek, Pumpkin and Ginger Soup

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes

40g butter
4 leeks, sliced
800g pumpkin,
roughly cut into cubes
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
800ml chicken stock
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1.  Melt the butter in a large pot then soften the leeks, ginger and pumpkin together.  Sweat gently for about 5 minutes.

2.  Add the stock (just enough to cover the vegetables), cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.

3.  Blend with a hand mixer, add the nutmeg and season to taste.

pumpkin leek and ginger soup served with mini curry macarons

Or serve this as a mini amuse-bouche with macarons

Take Your Soup to the Next Level with Macarons

To garnish you could swirl in some naughty cream and sprinkle on smoked crispy bacon. For a festive look, add some herbs to look like holly and add a couple of pink peppercorns – although ATTENTION! Pink Peppercorns should be strictly avoided if you suffer from nut allergies – read more about it HERE from my friend, Christina.

Moreover, take your soups to another level and excited intriguing faces are guaranteed at the table. For macaronivores, why not serve with a couple of mini curry tikka mac’sala macarons (See page 100 of the book.)

Who wants baby bear’s bowl?

In between sane bowls of soup and greedy galettes, it’s just the right timing to prepare loads of macarons today for this weekend’s party. Hm. Too many choices of flavours – what favourites would you prefer to see on the table: classic or wacky? Dress is also ‘back to the 80s’. What on earth did we wear then? Do you remember? Shoulder pads? Jumpsuits? Disco gear? What would you wear?

Happy, Healthy Holidays!

spiced pumpkin and leek soup with curry macarons

Bonne Année – Bonne santé !