I've read a lot about macarons since my second attempt at making them using the Italian Meringue Method. For the recipe below, I used Pierre Herme's recipe but decided to switch things up a bit and try the French Meringue Method. Although I've read horror stories about this method all over the internet, it seemed to work just fine for me. The jury; however, is still out about which method I like better. Since I'm still a novice, I'll continue to use both the Italian and French meringue methods until there is a clear winner.
For this particular recipe, because I like a pistachio macaron with lots of pistachio flavor, I decided to use half ground pistachios and half ground almonds for my macaron cookie and I added some pistachio extract to both the macaron batter and the buttercream. By the way, you can buy pistachio extract at silvercloudestates.com.
I also tried a slightly different technique for adding the flavoring. During my previous attempts at making macarons, I added the flavorings and food coloring after I folded the meringue into the dry ingredients. I ended up with slightly deflated, runny, and loose meringue. This time, I added my liquid flavorings and food coloring near the end of whipping my egg whites to stiff peaks. This seemed to work really well; the color was infused evenly and I didn't run the risk of deflating my meringue like before.
Makes 72 macarons
For the cookie:
- 150 grams finely ground blanched almonds (if possible, use Trader Joes sliced dry roasted almonds)
- 150 grams finely ground pistachios
- 300 grams powdered sugar
- 300 grams extra fine granulated sugar
- 220 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature
- Green food coloring
- 1/2 teaspoon of pure pistachio extract
For the pistachio French buttercream:
- 12 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup finely ground pistachios
- 1 to 2 teaspoons pure pistachio extract
Step 1: To make the macaron cookie: Separate eggs at least 24 hours before using (or up to five days). Save yolks for egg yolk buttercream. The older the eggs the better.
Step 2: Line 6 half sheet trays with silpat baking sheets or parchment.
Step 3: Using a scale, measure out all the ingredients.
Step 4: Place the ground almonds, ground pistachios, and confectioners sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground (about 1 - 2 minutes). Sift the mixture to remove any lumps.
Step 5: In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add your granulated sugar to whisking egg whites and beat to stiff peaks. Add green food coloring and pistachio extract and continue whipping under the color is evenly distributed through out the meringue.
Step 6: Gradually fold egg whites into your dry ingredients, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Completely fold in your dry ingredients into your egg whites. The batter will fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon.
Step 7: Fill a pastry bag, fitted with 1/2 inch (1 cm) tip (#5 or 805 ATECO tip), with about half the batter. Pipe about 1 - 1 1/2 inch (3 - 4 cm) rounds onto silpat-lined pans. Leave at least 1 inch between macaroons. As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes or until the tops of the macarons are no longer tacky.
Step 8: While your macarons are sitting at room temperature, preheat oven to 325 degrees F with an oven rack in bottom third of the oven. You may have to do some experimenting with your oven to determine the best temperature for your macarons. Using my convection oven, I found that 315 degrees F was a good temperature.
Step 9: Bake the cookies (one sheets at a time) for about 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans front to back, about halfway through baking. The macarons are done when you can just barely separate the cookies from the parchment paper (there will be some browning of the cookies).
Step 10: Remove from oven and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack.
Step 11: To make the pistachio French buttercream: Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan to 242 degrees F or a few drops form a soft ball in cold water.
Step 12: While syrup is cooking, beat egg yolks until they are fluffy. Pour hot syrup in a thin stream into yolks, beating constantly.
Step 13: As the mixture cools, it will become thick and light. Continue to beat for a few minutes and then set aside until entirely cooled. If the syrup has not been cooked sufficiently, no amount of beating will make the mixture thick enough. If the syrup has been cooked too long, it will not beat smoothly into the egg yolks but will form little lumps of sugar.
Step 14: Beat in softened butter until thick and creamy. You may have to beat up to 5 to 10 minutes for the buttercream to become creamy. Add ground pistachios and extract.
Step 15: To assemble the macarons: Take two cookies and sandwich them together with your filling. Place filling on flat side of cookie, and leave a narrow, unfilled border when piping the filling onto the cookie bottoms. You want to use just enough filling that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. Best served at room temperature. Filled macaroons can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.