Sunday, 14 August 2011

Pistachio Macarons

I have sat on the sidelines for some time and watched the hysteria about macarons.  I admired the many jewel like colours of these wonderful creations when we were in Paris a year ago but was never moved to try to make them.  Well today I decided to give it a go.  To say I was nervous is an understatement.  The French rate a Macaron in terms of difficulty as a 10/10  !!!  So much can go wrong and mine is by no means faultless but it gives me something to work on and try to improve.
Apparently you want "feet",  thats the little frilly bit at the bottom and nice smooth tops with a sheen and no bubbles or holes.  There are more tips and tricks for creating macarons than I care to count and the more of them I read the more terrified I got.  There are two very different methods to making them as well (as it relates to the making of the meringue element).  The age of your egg whites is also important...who knew ?

Well, armed with information up to the eyeballs I decided to just jump right in with both feet and hope I didn't fail spectacularly.  I must add here there are a couple of tips I used from the multitude...and a good working relationship with your own particular quirky oven is essential also so you understand how it bakes.
Your Almond Meal and ground Pistachios if you use them must be (a) DRY, and (b) very fine - fine enough that they have been passed through a sieve.
Don't use fresh eggs on pain of death and if thats all you have, leave them out on your benchtop for at least a day before attempting them in a macaron.

Don't eat your macaron the day you make it!  Its has to sit in the fridge for at least a day to absorb the flavors before being removed from the fridge - returned to room temp before eating.
Put off enough yet ?  OK then lets get started...

225g Icing Sugar
125g Ground Almond Meal (I substituted in about 40g of ground pistachios into this mix)
30g Caster Sugar
Pinch Salt
110g Egg Whites

  1. Turn on your oven and heat to 160 Celsius ( actually found this a little hot and found 120C worked better in my oven.)
  2. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.  If you don't trust your piping skills, draw circles on the parchment to pipe within.  
  3. Measure and sift your icing sugar then sieve your almond meal / pistachio mix.  It must be fine and dry. Set aside.
  4. Measure out your egg whites and in a stand mixer or with your handheld mixer beat with the pinch of salt to form frothy peaks.
  5. When you have your frothy peaks, gradually add your caster sugar until you have firm glossy peaks.
  6. Using a spatula, fold the dry mix into the eggwhites.  At this point you can add a little dot of green food colouring gel to give a subtle pistachio colour.  Mix until the mix is combined and consistency of 'lava'... not my expression but the accepted one...Hahaha
  7. Place your mix into a piping bag with no nozzle and pipe your macarons onto the baking trays.  Try to not get peaks on them but if you do just flatten with with your finger.
  8. I left my macarons on the bench for about 5-10 minutes to develop a slight 'skin' prior to cooking.  Place them in your oven and cook for 11-16 minutes.  The oven is low but you don't want to  brown these.
  9. When cooked through remove and place on baking tray.
  10. Fill with your choice of buttercream or ganache filling.

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