Pumpkin Seed & Matcha Macarons with Coconut, Dark Chocolate Ganache by Brave Tart

Ever since Stella of BraveTart (@TheBraveTart) said yes, I've been racking my brain on how to put into words the enormity of her talent. Clearly an overachiever, CIA graduate working as a pastry chef 24/7 at Table 310, teaming up with an equally brilliant photographer, Rosco, for postings on her site and graciously finding time to guest without flinching.

Once in awhile when I am bound to quit my addictive twitter 'habit' I come across a compelling reason why not to. Thanks to Mardi, of Eat. Live. Travel. Write., introduction to BraveTart I am still here. Not only Stella's creativity is exponential, but she is not only a brave but also a smart tart!:)  Mad scientist meets an edgy girl with heightened intuition for flavor, ratio combinations and best kitchen practices and techniques. In a sea of exceptional talents she sets herself apart just by being her genuine, original self! So it won't come to you as a surprise to hear that she is the go to source for advice and tips for many inexperienced and experienced twitter friends alike.

Off-the-cuff she had a million  (well many) brilliant ideas. Quite coincidentally she seamlessly combined three cultures in one, Matcha from her experiences in Japan, pumpkin seeds are as big in Israel and coconut milk in ganache of course represents India. Stella's compiled macaron tablets The Ten Commandments ...of macarons. So here is Stella:

Macarons have a reputation as culinary troublemakers, but in the restaurant where I work, they've saved my butt time and again. Most nights, they just do their job. Tasty little cookies that march out of the kitchen one dessert plate at a time. Just plain ole' macarons. But at the Zero Hour when a last minute reservations flagged, "celiac; lactose intolerant; nut allergy" pops up on our books, I don't bat an eyelash. My macarons take off their Clark Kent glasses to reveal themselves as Super Macarons: nut free, dairy free, dye free, gluten free and, of course, ridiculously delicious.
Photo  by Rosco Weber, sideshowphoto
Even more super, you don't have to work in a restaurant kitchen to make them for yourself. The hardest part of making nut free macarons at home? Writing, "pumpkin seeds" on your grocery list.

The naturally green color of pumpkin seeds gives the final macarons the palest of green hues. So rather than fight this color, I embrace it with the addition of matcha, one of my favorite flavors and a potent natural colorant. Many people call matcha, "green tea" but I find that misleading. The Japanese language refers to matcha and green tea with two separate words because they are two separate things.While getting into the semantics of the issue lies totally outside the scope of this little guest post, I bring up this difference for an important reason. You can't make matcha macarons out of grocery store green tea.

Buy matcha at your local Japanese market, or online. My favorite source is a nearby tea shop that imports a type of matcha with an especially robust flavor meant for culinary applications. The best matchas are meant for drinking not baking; their flavor is quickly diluted by the heaps of sugar in a macaron recipe and what's left won't hold up to the heat of an oven.

(a link to my favorite matcha,
If getting a hold of matcha proves more trouble than you'd care to invest, feel free to simply leave it out of the recipe.

Pumpkin Seed & Matcha Macarons
4 ounces (115g) toasted pumpkin seeds
8 ounces (230g) powdered sugar
1 Tbsp matcha
5 ounces egg whites (144g)
2 1/2 ounces (72g) sugar
the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp (2g) salt

Preheat the oven to 300° and have ready a large pastry bag, fitted with a plain tip, along with two sheet pans lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, grind the pumpkin seeds, powdered sugar, and matcha for one minute. Take the mixture out and sift it, reserving whatever bits don’t pass through the sieve. Repeat processing and sifting until all of the mixture can pass through a sieve.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla bean and salt. Turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes.

Increase the speed to medium-high (7 on a Kitchen Aid) and whip another 3 minutes, then crank the speed to 8 for go another 3 minutes.Whip for a final minute on the highest speed. At the end of this minute you should have a very stiff, dry meringue.

Now dump in the dry ingredients all at once and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Fold until the mixture has a cake-batter like consistency, but enough body to stay in the bowl if held upside down for a moment.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag and pipe into 1" circles on the parchment lined baking sheet. Leave an inch between each macaron.

After piping the macarons, take hold of the sheet pan and rap it against the counter. Rotate the pan ninety degrees and rap two more times. This will dislodge any large air bubbles that might crack the macarons.

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until the macarons can be cleanly peeled away from the parchment paper. If they stick to the paper, they're not done yet.

Once the macarons have baked, cool thoroughly before removing the from the parchment.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
4 ounces (144g) coconut milkor whipping cream
4 ounces (144g) dark chocolate, chopped
a pinch of salt

In a small pot, bring the coconut milk to a boil. Add the chocolate and salt and whisk until smooth. If the mixture seems slightly broken, whisk in additional coconut milk, a Tablespoon at a time, until the ganache becomes smooth and shiny. Refrigerate, stirring often, until the ganache becomes thick enough to pipe.

Use a pastry bag to pipe a heaping teaspoon of ganache into half of the macaron shells. Top each mount of ganache with another macaron shell and press slightly to sandwich the two halves together.

Macarons, against all pastry traditions, actually get better with age. The shells soften and become more chewy, mingling with the flavor of the filling too. So, while of course you can eat them right away, don’t hesitate to store them refrigerated for up to a week. Let them come to room temperature before enjoying.

Tree Nut Free Macaron Series:
Mocharons, Chocolate-Coffee Macarons with White Chocolate Ganache by The Daily Palette.
Pumpkin Seed & Matcha Macarons with Coconut, Dark Chocolate Ganache By BraveTart.
Go to both sites and show both girls some Macaron love!