Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pistachio Macarons

Pistachio Macarons
Home Cooking

Following the success of my French chocolate macarons, I became overconfident and assumed I could just whip them up without thinking. This lead to at least 3 sloppy batches and many dollars worth of wasted almond meal and icing sugar. I was wailing about my domestic failings to Jenny when she put me in my place. Macarons are NOT to be simply 'whipped up'. They are temperamental. They require planning and precision.

I don't know if the chocolate ones were just a fluke or if it was indeed an easier recipe to get right but I didn't want to take any more chances when it came to other flavours. My goal was to bake the perfect pistachio macaron and when I accidentally purchased $25 of pistachios, it became even more critical that I didn't screw this lot up.

I took some extra precautions with the recipe I used (this one here from The Extraordinary Art of Cake). First of all, I separated out the 4 egg whites into two bowls three days before I actually used them. I just kept them in the fridge. Apparently this 'ages' the egg whites and dries them out a bit, allowing the moisture content of the macaron batter to be lower. The other thing I did was leave the macaron batter alone after piping them out to allow a skin to form. This only took about 5-10 minutes and happened whilst the oven was preheating. My first batch popped but the colour darkened too much for my liking so I lowered the temperature for my second batch. This worked JUST right!

I've seen suggestions for white chocolate ganache to match with pistachio macarons but I stuck with a pistachio ganache. After all, I was hardly short on pistachios. I discovered that a traditional buttercream isn't actually made with cream but rather, egg yolks and butter. My pistachio buttercream is from this recipe on Bakepedia.

Pistachio Macarons
Makes about 25-30 macarons

  • 160g icing sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 60g ground pistachios
  • 4 medium egg whites, separated into 2 equal batches
  • 160g caster sugar
  • green food colouring paste
For the pistachio buttercream
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (50g) ground pistachios
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp (230g) chilled unsalted butter

1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (I used 2 sheets). I also used a 20c piece to outline circles on the back of the sheet to indicate how big the batter should be later one.
2. Sieve together the icing sugar, ground almonds and ground pistachios together in a large bowl (I repeated this twice).
3. Add the first batch of eggwhites (unbeaten) and green food colouring paste to the almond mix to form a thick paste.
4. Tip the second batch of eggwhites into the bowl of your standmixer.
5. Place 50ml of water and the caster sugar into a small saucepan and bring to the boil on medium heat. Cook until the syrup registers 110 degrees Celcius on a candy thermometer (or when it reaches the 'soft ball' stage).  Start beating the egg whites.
6. Add the sugar syrup in a steady stream as you're beating the egg whites, trying to avoid hitting the whisks with the syrup.
7. Continue whisking until the mixture has cooled slightly and you have a shiny, peaked meringue.
8. Tip the meringue into the almond mixture and gently fold together, taking care not to over-mix the batter. It should fall from a spatula in thick ribbons.
9. Heat your oven to 170 degrees Celcius. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle. Pipe rounds onto the prepared baking sheets. Rap the sheets firmly on the counter to get rid of air bubbles.
10. Leave for 30 minutes on the kitchen bench, or until a skin forms on the surface of each dollop of batter.
11. Bake for 14 minutes. Once the baking sheet is removed from the oven, immediately slide the parchment paper off. Allow to cool for a few minutes before peeling them off the paper to cool completely.

For the buttercream...
12. Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric mixer at high speed until the mixture has doubled in volume and become fluffy.
13. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and stir in the pistachios. Heat over medium heat, constantly stirring, until it forms a compact batter.
14. Pour into a shallow dish, wrap in clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator.
15. Cut the butter into small pieces and beat with electric mixer at high speed. When the butter starts to expand in volume and become fluffy, add the pistachio batter and whip until incorporated.

To assemble the macarons...
16. I piped the pistachio buttercream onto macaron halves before squishing an equal-sized half on top. Because the edges were uneven, I rolled them in left-over ground pistachios (most of the chunkier pieces that were left over when I sieved the mixture).

I'm so proud of these macarons. There was a point where I thought I had failed yet again because I don't think I reduced the sugar syrup enough for the Italian meringue. After all, I don't own a sugar thermometer so I couldn't be sure. Amazingly, everything turned out fine so it's possible that just having an Italian meringue instead of a French meringue might stabilise the batter.

The pistachio buttercream was strange to make because I wasn't sure what 'becomes compact batter' in the original recipe meant. It actually does become quite thick in the saucepan so I would add that you know it when it happens.

As with most macarons, I actually think they taste better the next day once the shells have softened a bit. They retained their crispy exterior but were gloriously chewy inside with a creamy, deeply pistachio-flavoured filling. Nothing feels more satisfying than being able to successfully create something you love eating. For me, pistachio macarons have always been a weakness so it was very satisfying being able to make them myself.

Added note: I had someone commenting on my French chocolate macaron post criticising my use of the star nozzle (which I did explain in my post) as well as other things, like consistency of batter and units of measure in my ingredients (which I copied directly from the original recipe). I didn't think I needed to clarify but maybe I do: I am not a pastry chef! I'm not even a regular home cook. I'm just a regular girl who's a dentist by day and loves to eat food in my down time. Sometimes I do it at restaurants and sometimes I'll try and be brave enough to create my own. I'm sorry if my posts ever mislead people to disastrous results but I always post my own experiences honestly and give tips that I have read or that I use myself. Please don't get all in a huff about minor details in my posts; I am cooking on my days off and using my iPhone to take photos in my tiny apartment kitchen. I'm not a professional who can test and retest recipes and show everything perfectly. Please forgive :)

No comments:

Post a Comment