Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Pistachio Macarons

I mentioned in a previous post that I had a disasterous result with Nigella Lawson's Pistachio Macaron recipe from How to be A Domestic Goddess. I feel like I have to clarify that. While it is true that the cookies that came out of the oven were almost flat and did not look at all like macarons, they were really delicious. We enjoyed them to the last crumb at the cost of scraping some of them from the parchment. I was tempted to try again, but first I made a small search to see if other bloggers tried the same recipe. I found out that Chika also used the same recipe and although she loved the taste just like we did, she mentioned somewhere in her post that her macarons were flatter than the pictures in the book. Then I saw that Clement also had an unfavorable experience with pistachio macarons although his problems seemed to be of a different nature. Instead of trying Nigella's recipe again, I decided to use the basic macaron recipe I found in a la cuisine! simply by substituting pistachios for almonds. I was generally pleased with the beautiful pale green color (which the pictures unfortunately do not reflect) and the frilly little feet. Some of my macarons decided to go oblong --I suspect this has something to do with my piping-- yet others were perfect rounds. These macarons had thicker crusts and developed cavities under the crunchy crust; something I did not experience with the chocolate and chestnut macarons I made before. However, they were very delicious and definitely tasted of pistachios. Tastewise, I still prefer Nigella Lawson macarons, but since my interpretation of her recipe did not really yield macarons, this may not be a fair comparison. I used Nigella's easy pistachio buttercream for the macarons, but I had to adjust quantities and reduce the sugar. Since I used more than one source and made a number of changes along the way, I will write the recipe here as I made it.

Pistachio Macaron Batter:
  • 1 ¼ cups confectioner's sugar
  • 4 oz pistachios
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsps egg whites at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
Pistachio Filling:
  • 1 1/2 oz pistachios
  • 1 c confectioner's sugar
  • 6 tbs softened butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Process the pistachios with powdered sugar until you get fine pistachio flour. (I processed for 3 1-minute intervals mixing with a spatula between each.)

In a greaseless bowl, combine the egg whites with the pinch of salt. Beat on medium power until soft peaks start to form. Increase the speed, gradually beat in the sugar and continue to whip until stiff and firm peaks form, about 2 minutes. Sieve the pistachio flour and fold it into the egg whites in two batches, mixing with a spatula just until no streaks remain. This will seem to be a lot of pistachio flour for the amount of egg whites you have, but it will work out.

Scrape the batter into a pastry bag with a round tip. Pipe 1" circles of macaron batter about 1" apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Rap the baking sheets firmly on the table to remove air bubbles. Let rest for about an hour until the macarons develop a skin. Bake for 10 minutes.

For the filling, process the pistachios and the confectioner's sugar just like you did for the macaron batter. Cream this with the softened butter until uniformly mixed.

Cool the macarons completely before you remove them from the parchment. Pair similar sized ones and glue them with some pistachio filling. I feel that the macarons benefit from an overnight rest in the refrigerator, but they can be enjoyed immediately, too.