Spring is in the air! What better way to celebrate than by making the most festive and happiest bunch of macarons?! Few things are more satisfying than making your own macarons. Especially when you also end up making your own pistachio flour. So many people will be insanely impressed. This recipe makes A LOT of macarons, so if you're a fiend and spend way too much money on these little gems at the bakery, once you make this recipe you'll have a lot of macarons to bogart (or dole out, if you're generous). Macarons freeze really well, so make a lot and save them for dessert at your next dinner party.
I'm a slight wimp when it comes to the food coloring. For some reason, I feel slightly apprehensive towards making ultra color saturated macarons. I prefer to get the color naturally or paint the baked shells with color at the end. The goal however next time I make these is to actually get macs the color of the flour above, somewhere between a moss and foresty green. I'd better get over my color fear asap.
To make the blue macarons also pictured, I used the Chocolate Macaron Recipe and omitted the cocoa powder and the melted dark chocolate and instead added the seeds of one vanilla bean to the flour mixture, effectively turning it into a vanilla macaron. I also added a light turquoise gel color, filled them with the dark chocolate ganache, and did a fun brush splatter effect to make them speckled.
SOURCES: MACARON SHELLS, ADAPTED FROM BOUCHON
MAKES ABOUT 60 ASSEMBLED MACARONS
Pistachio flour can be made or store bought. To make pistachio flour, purchase unsalted, unroasted nuts, typically found in the bulk bin the supermarket. After shelling, remove as much of the brown skins as possible. This helps with the final color of the flour and the pistachios. Pistachio flour can be made in a food processor, spice grinder, blender, or nut grinder. If skins are hard to remove, blanch nuts quickly in boiling water, see recipe. Before making flour make sure your nuts are very dry and that you don't overprocess them. Pistachios can quickly become over ground and turn into pistachio butter. Pistachio flour can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for a month or indefinitely in the freezer.
In order to age egg whites, separate whites into a bowl. Measure out a few extra grams of egg whites. Cover with a paper towel and leave at room temperature overnight. Macarons tend to be an exact science, I encourage you to use a scale and measure ingredients in grams for best results.
To estimate amount of pistachios needed:
100 grams of pistachios with shells ≈ 1 cup
200 grams of shelled pistachios ≈ 2 cups
TOTAL PISTACHIOS NEEDED FOR RECIPE IF MAKING PISTACHIO FLOUR + GANACHE
125 grams of shelled pistachios (1 1/4 cups), roughly 250 grams whole pistachios (2 1/2 cups)
PISTACHIO MACARON SHELLS
128 grams sifted almond flour/meal (1-3/4 cups + 2-1/2 tablespoons)
100 grams of shelled pistachios (1 cup), roughly 200 grams whole pistachios (2 cups) or 84 grams sifted pistachio flour, see note
212 grams sifted powdered sugar (1-3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons)
172 grams aged egg whites, 5-6 eggs (1/2 cup + 2-1/2 tablespoons), see note
236 grams granulated sugar (1 cup + 3 tablespoons)
158 grams water (2/3 cup)
Pinch of cream of tartar
Flaky sea salt (optional)
290 grams white chocolate chocolate (10-1/4 ounces)
25 grams shelled pistachios (1/4 cup), roughly 50 grams whole pistachios (1/2 cup)
227 grams heavy cream (1 cup)
99 grams granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
Make pistachio flour: measure 100 grams of shelled pistachios. Remove as much of the brown skins as possible. If necessary to remove any remaining skins, blanch in boiling water for 25 seconds. Drain pistachios and using a towel, rub any remaining skins off and dry the pistachios. Place the pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet to air dry overnight.
To make pistachio flour, lightly chop the dry pistachios and using short pulses, grind until pieces resemble wet sand and are even in size. Be careful not to over grind.
Pour ground nuts into a sieve and sift into a bowl. Return any remaining large pieces into the grinder and repeat the process until all pistachios are ground.
Make ganache: finely chop white chocolate and place in heat proof bowl. Place remaining 25 grams of shelled pistachios, heavy cream and sugar in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes until nuts are softened and cream is infused. Pour cream into a blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour cream into chocolate and let sit for a two minutes. Stir mixture until smooth and gradually add butter stirring until emulsified.
Cool ganache slightly at room temperature and refrigerate until firm enough to be piped, about an hour. Ganache can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator.
Prepare baking sheets. Print template if using and cover with parchment paper. Alternatively, trace circles of your choosing on parchment paper and place on baking sheet, pencil side down.
Make pistachio shells: place sifted powdered sugar and pistachio and almond flours in a bowl. Sift mixture together at least three more times to aerate and remove any remaining lumps. Mound the flour and sugar mixture and make a 4-inch well in the center. Pour in 82 grams (1/2 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoons) egg whites and combine with a spatula until it becomes a paste. Set aside.
Place the remaining egg whites (90 grams or 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) egg whites in the bowl of clean stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams of sugar in a small saucepan. Pour water in pan careful not to splash sugar on the pan edges. Heat water sugar mixture on medium high heat until the syrup reaches 203°.
Turn syrup to high and continue to cook on stove. Turn mixer on medium low. Once egg mixture begins to foam put in a pinch of sugar and cream of tartar and turn to medium high, whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248°, reduce mixer to lowest speed to keep the egg whites moving.
When the syrup is 248°, remove pan from stove and with mixer on low, slowly pour hot syrup into the mixer. Aim to pour the syrup in the spot between the side of the bowl and the whisk. Increase the speed of the mixer to high and whip until the whites are stiff and glossy, about five minutes. With one minute left, add in a few drops of light green gel food coloring (if using). When ready, the meringue should be cool and the mixer bowl should be slightly warm.
Fold one third of the whipped meringue into the bowl with the nut flour egg mixture. Fold until almost all of the meringue is incorporated into the almond flour and the mixture is lightened. Using spatula, fold mixture over itself. The mixture should form a distinct "ribbon" that holds it shape for a moment when folded onto itself before dissolving into the rest of the batter. You may not use all of the whipped meringue.
Heat oven to 350°.
Transfer mixture to a pastry bag with a 1/2" tip. I use a Wilton #12 tip (roughly 5/16"). Pipe onto parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets. Pipe in one swift motion and swirl the end slightly. Once entire sheet is piped, lightly tap baking sheet on counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Use finger to smooth out any residual tip marks on the surface of the macarons. Top piped macarons with finely chopped pistachios, flaky sea salt, or leave bare. Let macarons dry on sheet for minimum of 15 minutes until surface is no longer sticky and macarons develop a very slight dry skin.
Place sheet on middle rack of oven and immediately reduce oven to 325° bake for 10-13 minutes until tops are set and crisp. Macarons should have developed their signature "feet". If you tap on the surface of the macarons, they should not move and should sound hollow. Preheat oven after every batch.
Cool slightly on the baking sheet and remove immediately to a wire rack to cool completely.
Remove ganache from refrigerator and let warm up at room temperature until spreadable. Transfer to a pastry bag with same #12 tip and pipe onto cooled shells. Top with second cookie and press gently to spread ganache to edges. Repeat with remaining macarons.
Place sandwiched macarons in refrigerator for a few hours, serve at room temperature. Completed macarons will taste best 24 hours later because flavors and texture have had time to develop.