I have a baker’s confession to make; I have lived in the south east of England for the majority of my life and I have never once been to Paris. It’s shameful, I know. I’m just a train ride away from so many beautiful and classic baked delicacies and I’ve never taken advantage of it. I don’t know how I live with myself to be quite honest (Note: I have been to France, once, but not Paris). It’s okay, I understand if you want to publicly shame me for this, you can do so in the comments!
My second confession as a baker is I’m not a huge fan of macarons. You can argue with me about the correct spelling, but in England a macaroon is a coconut cookie (see here). Okay, back to the French cookie, I don’t dislike them but they’ll never be my first choice and I don’t really get what all the fuss is about. Yet, I still made it my mission to make successful macarons – just to prove I could. Baking is kind of a competition to me, where I’m competing with my own self doubt. And when my self doubt wins, well I tend to throw a little tantrum and refuse to attempt it again for years! The first time I tried to make macarons it was a bit of a disaster, that was about 3 years ago. Fast forward to 2014 and here I am, a successful macaron baker! Yay me!
Okay, so they’re definitely not the prettiest macarons but they ARE macarons. These pistachio macarons are light and fluffy, they have feet and they’re super tasty (according to the macaron lovers I had taste test them!). My biggest issues in making this were trying to grind the pistachios in a mini food processor (I definitely didn’t have a smooth enough batter) and my oven temperature in Atlanta is a bit wonky so baking time was a guessing game! Overall though, I’m very pleased with how they came out. I had planned to never make them again after I got them right, but I think a couple people may have something to say about that unfortunately! Oh well, I bake to please!
Before making these I did lots of internet research to find tips on how to make them successfully and found an excellent post from Food Nouveau. That post is definitely your one stop shop on the world of making macarons, it has everything you need to know with really clear instructions! They also have a link to a bunch of different flavour recipes too! One of the tips they give is to make plain macarons your first time out, of course I didn’t listen! I really like pistachio and I thought this was going to be my only time making them. I’m a rebel, what can I say! That being said, if this is your first time making macarons, I implore you to read that whole post before attempting this recipe as I won’t be able to go into as much detail as they did.
Another rule I didn’t follow is the ageing of the egg whites. I’m an impatient fool and I wanted to make them right then! Honestly I don’t think it’s entirely necessary (but who knows, maybe I would have had a smoother batter if I’d aged them). What I did was place the whole eggs in warm water for about 3 minutes before separating them. One tip that is important to follow though is exact measurements for the cookies, you need a scale rather than cups to be as accurate as possible.
[recipe title=”Pistachio Macarons”]
For the cookies:
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 205 g icing sugar
- 125 g powdered almonds (almond flour/meal)
- 20 g unsalted and shelled pistachios
- 30 g caster sugar
- Green gel food colouring
For the buttercream:
- 45 g unsalted and shelled pistachios
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 6 tbsp butter, unsalted
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
To make the cookies:
- Finely grind the pistachios in a food processor. Add the icing sugar and powdered almond and grind for a few minutes. Sift the mixture into a large bowl to ensure no larger lumps remain, throw away anything that doesn’t make it through the sieve. Set aside.
- Whisk the egg whites on a medium/high speed in a stand mixer for a couple of minutes, then add a tablespoon of the caster sugar. Continue to beat while you slowly add the remaining sugar. Beat until the egg whites are stiff and creamy.
- Fold in the food colouring gently with a rubber spatula, add a few drops at a time until you get your desired colour.
- Very delicately fold in the nut and icing sugar mixture in a few additions. Make sure no pockets of dry ingredients remain but do not beat!
- Prepare your baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. I also slipped a template underneath to get my cookies evenly sized (this is the template I used), just make sure to slide the template out before placing the baking sheet in the oven
- Spoon your batter into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip and pipe rounds of batter, evenly spaced. They can be close together as they won’t expand much.
- Let your macarons rest on the baking sheet for a minimum of 20 minutes, I left mine for about 45 minutes. Make sure a skin has formed before baking. Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.
- Bake macarons for about 15 minutes. You can test them by gently tapping the top, they are ready when they are firm on their feet.
- Leave the cool while you make the buttercream
To make the buttercream:
- Finely grind the pistachios in the food processor. Add the icing sugar and grind some more.
- Cream this mixture with the softened butter until you reach a buttercream like consistency.
- Blend in the vanilla extract. If the mixture is too thick, add a little bit of cream or milk until you get the right consistency (and vice versa)
- Pipe the buttercream onto the flat side of one cookie and sandwich with another, repeat for all cookies
- Store at room temperature in an air tight container. They’ll taste even better the next day!