Pistachio French Macarons were the natural alliance between my Sicilian Pistachio Paste and the Beloved French Macaron. I’d say it was a match made in heaven.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Pistachio French Macarons
100 g. egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
50 g. white sugar
200 g. powdered sugar
110 g. almond flour
(very lightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
3 egg whites
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 sticks room temperature salted butter (no substitutes)
1-2 tbsp. Agrimontana pistachio paste (depending on how strong you want the pistachio taste to be)
Whip room temperature egg whites, cream of tartar, and white sugar with the whisk attachment of your stand mixer until the whites reach stiff peak stage. Meanwhile, pulse your almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor until the mixture is well combined. Sift your almond flour/powdered sugar mixture through a sieve and throw away the pieces that are too large to pass through the sieve. When the whites have whipped into stiff peaks, fold the almond/sugar mixture into the whites gradually and carefully until they reach proper “macaronage.” Place 2-3 drops of gel food coloring into the batter and swirl gently before carefully pouring into a piping bag. Pipe meringue circles onto a silpat using a template, if desired, and slam the cookie sheets several times on the counter to dislodge air bubbles. Allow circles to dry for 20 minutes before baking at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, one sheet at a time, in the center of the oven (move oven racks, if necessary). Do not open the oven until the 20 minutes are up, and use an oven thermometer for best results. When your macarons are done they should feel “firm on their feet.” If the macaron shells are soft or crack when gently touched, bake for 2 more minutes and test again until they are firm on their feet. After baking, remove entire silpat to cooling rack and allow shells to cool, completely, before removing them from the silpat.
To make pistachio buttercream, place your egg whites and sugar together on the top of a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler you can use the metal bowl of your stand mixer over a saucepan with about an inch of boiling water. Make sure that the water is low enough that it doesn’t touch the bowl on top with your egg whites in it. Whisk the egg white mixture over the boiling water until the egg whites reach 160 degrees (use a baking thermometer to make sure you get the temperature right). When your mixture reaches 160 degrees remove it from the heat and whisk it with the whisk attachment of your stand mixer until it cools slightly (I use ice packs on the side of the mixing bowl to cool the mixture more quickly). When it reaches room temperature, switch from the whisk to the beater attachment. On medium speed whip the frosting, slowly adding the room temperature butter in pieces. When you get all of the butter added, whip for several minutes on high speed until your frosting looks like whipped butter (which, technically, it is). Add in your pistachio paste and mix just until combined. The frosting is ready to use, or you may refrigerate, covered, for several days (bring to room temperature to pipe before using).
Now, in pictures!
Ahhhh, marvelous meringue. You are the basis of so many things that I love . . . French macarons, pavlova, Angel Food Cake, Lemon Meringue Pie . . . you are as versatile as you are lovely.
Every time I make meringue I just look at the “bird’s beak” of the perfectly stiff peaks in admiration. So pretty. This is the foundation of macaron greatness, my friends. If you are new to macaron making, check out my more detailed post here. Otherwise I will assume that you are all macaron mavens who don’t need as much explanation, and I will just show you quickly how to make the shells so we can talk about the filling.
Another beautiful player in the macaron game is the snowy almond flour mountain. I sift my almond flour/powdered sugar three times. Sifting “thrice” ensures that my sweet little shells avoid lumpy, bumpy “macaron acne.” I mean, would YOU want to go to the macaron prom with acne? Didn’t think so. Don’t make your shells do it.
Use a silicone spatula to fold your almond flour and egg whites together. Add a few drops of food coloring if you want to color your shells– the food coloring can be mixed in while you fold the ingredients. Look at your multitasking skills. You’re a genius. I love working with you.
Be gentle while you fold your egg whites and almond flour together. More macarons are lost on the field of macaronage (just the name for folding together your almond flour/powdered sugar and egg whites) than any other battle. The tricky part is that you want to knock out enough air that your macarons don’t have pointy little gnome hats (sometimes called “macaron nipples,” but I like gnome hats better), but not so much that your batter deflates and makes flat shells.
So HOW DO I KNOW WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?????
Basically, you want your batter to be the consistency of honey– slowly “oozy,” but not liquid. Then it’s time to pipe your macarons on your silpat, rap the trays, pop the bubbles if necessary (that darned macaron acne, again), and let the shells rest to form a skin before baking them.
So while your shells are shaking and baking, let’s talk FILLING.
Traditionally, I have never used buttercream in my macarons, favoring instead a whipped chocolate ganache. There are several reasons for this. First, I could never make buttercream for some reason. It always became a weird, lumpy mess, or a sad, oozing puddle of grease. Second, I hated the sickening, “so sweet you need an insulin shot” taste of it. Yuck, yuck, yuck (no, that is not the three stooges behind you). However, recently my buttercream bias was changed, thanks to my friend Nancy who introduced me to Swiss Meringue buttercream. Let’s talk a bit about it.
To make Swiss Meringue Buttercream you will need a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler (who does???), a small saucepan with about an inch of boiling water, with your kitchenaid mixer (metal) bowl overtop works fine. You want to make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. If you’ve never tried this “cheating double boiler” trick, start with cold water and dip your bowl into the saucepan. If the bottom off your bowl is dry coming up, then the water level is good. If it’s wet, then you need to dump some of the water out.
Mix together your egg whites and white sugar overtop of the boiling water. You want your water to be kind of slowly boiling, rather than freaking out, crazy boiling, because the bowl will act like a lid (sealing in heat), and you don’t want anything boiling over or steam escaping and burning you while you work.
Whisk every so often so that your egg doesn’t cook along the sides.
You want to whisk and heat until your mixture reaches 160 degrees. Use a thermometer to make sure.
When your mixture is 160 degrees, take your bowl off the heat.
Now check this out. Because you are so smart and used the bowl of your stand mixer to heat the egg white, it is already in the correct mixing bowl ready to be whipped, saving both time AND dirty dishes for you! You’re a genius. I love working with you.
Put your bowl back on the stand mixer and use the whisk attachment to start whisking your hot egg white mixture. Basically you want to whip as it cools. A few ice packs along the sides helps to cool it down faster.
The egg whites are done when you can hold up the whisk and get the “bird’s beak”– that stiff, beautifully glossy meringue that I love to gaze at in rapt adoration.
Switch from your whisk to your paddle attachment and turn the mixer to medium high. Slowly add in your pieces of ROOM TEMPERATURE butter. Yes, it must be butter, and it must be room temperature. In the past I think I failed at buttercream college because my butter was either too cold or sometimes a substitute, such as margarine.
Gotta be the real thing. Gotta be room temperature. Gotta be delicious. Check, check, and double check.
After a few minutes of beating in the butter, your buttercream will look like . . . well, whipped butter. And that’s exactly what it is. Slowly mix in your pistachio paste. Ahhhhh the glorious deliciousness of it my friends! I wish you could smell this heavenly elixir through the computer. That pistachio paste gives the buttercream the most glorious kiss of heaven, and it smells even better– like toasting nuts and Christmas and your grandma’s kitchen all rolled into one heavenly scent. Go ahead and take a deep whiff. I won’t stop you. Au contraire— I will applaud your good taste.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
At this point you can match your pretty little pistachio shells together. Make sure you marry the ones together that are compatible. We want these shells to be a good fit, after all the hard work we did to make sure that they didn’t get macaron acne and all.
Put a little swirl (ok, a big swirl. It’s too good for small swirls) of Pistachio Buttercream in the centers. Put some buttercream on a spoon for yourself and taste. Feel free to repeat this process as many times as it takes to “test” the recipe. hehe
Gently “twist” the shells together. Don’t smoosh them or the pretty little buttercream swirl will be destroyed, and after all this work, we don’t want our swirl destroyed. Don’t be a swirl destroyer. Please. I beg of you.
Look at them. Couldn’t you just pinch their adorable little (acne free!) macaron cheeks? Look how smooth those shells are. YOU did that with your triple sifting. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy working with you? Because I do, you know.
Pop these babies into the fridge until you’re ready to serve them. The filling is basically butter, after all, and we don’t want it to get soft.
Oh all right we can try just one, I guess. In the name of science.
Oh my goodness. SOOOOO good. The creaminess of the butter, the soft crunch of the shell, the dizzyingly delicious punch of toasted pistachio.
It is bliss, my friends. Just bliss.
Because you did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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