Thursday 8 November 2012

Pistachio Macarons with Raspberry and Vanilla Buttercream

I can be, at times, obsessive.  I have more than a small macaron obsession... I trekked kilometers in Paris to search out Laduree, Fauchon and Pierre Herme, at least 10 kilometres; just the idea of the Métro with a stroller freaked me out so I set off on foot with the baby in tow.  It was worth it; the shops were amazing, galleries of patisserie and the macarons, so simple and so delicious. I bought extras for the family but they didn't make it, they were just too damn tempting!  In Sydney I've queued for hours, more than once, at Zumbo's on his annual "zumbaron day" just to check out his wacky creations, fried chicken anyone? 

I've made hundreds of macarons; for Christmas parties, birthday parties, christenings, school functions, because it's Tuesday (!) but I've also thrown whole batches straight in the bin and offloaded other, imperfect batches to friends.  Making macarons can be frustrating, they are tricky and they are fickle; their simple appearance seductive yet deceptive.  It seems they fail for any number of reasons; it's humid, the oven is too hot, the oven is too cold, the eggs are too fresh, they were over mixed, under mixed, they didn't sit for long enough before they were baked, they sat for too long... The more practice you have, the easier it is to recognise what went wrong. Even when you've baked a batch you are happy with, see above, watch out for teenage boys who raid the fridge and eat 3 of the best before you've managed to photograph them!

Be prepared for batches of craparons, not so craparons and shells so perfect you have to clap your hands and jump up and down, no, really you do...

Pistachio Macarons

80 g egg whites (about 2 jumbo eggs) at room temperature
65 g caster sugar
130 g icing sugar
105 g shelled pistachios

line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper 

put the pistachios and icing sugar in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground  sieve, toss the pistachio rubble from the sieve back in the processor with about half of the sieved pistachio/icing sugar combo  repeat until almost all of the mix passes through the sieve or you can't stand it any longer  the finer the powder the smoother the macaron shell

in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until foamy, gradually add the caster sugar, beat on medium speed until you have a firm, glossy meringue

tip half the pistachio/icing sugar powder over the meringue, fold in with a spatula, lifting under the meringue and turning the bowl  repeat with the rest of the powder  aim for a ribbon of batter to disappear back into the mixture after 20 seconds  try not to over mix; under mix and you have perfectly edible meringues, over mix and you have sad, wrinkly shells...

use a dab of the mixture under the corners of the baking paper to stick it to the tray, piping is tricky enough without the paper sliding around

fit a piping bag with a 10 mm plain tip and fill with the batter; pipe 3cm rounds, about 2cm apart, onto the baking paper

preheat the oven to 140°C; if you have a conventional oven bake 1 tray at a time, both trays should be fine in a fan forced oven

tap the trays on your bench to release any bubbles then let the macarons sit for 30 minutes to an hour to dry their shells; this helps stop the shells cracking

bake for 15 to 20 minutes, they should form their pretty, ruffled feet after about 5 minutes  cool on tray for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack

pair each shell with a similar sized partner; pipe a small mound of buttercream on the underside of one shell and gently press its partner on top    

store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight; here lies the alchemy, the inside of the shells soften while the flavours blend and develop  allow to come back to room temperature to eat

makes 0-20 macarons depending on how pedantic you are :)

macarons should keep, in the fridge for 3-4 days or up to a month in the freezer

Raspberry and Vanilla Buttercream

100g caster sugar
70g egg whites
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature

15g freeze dried raspberries, or 2 tbsp framboise or few drops raspberry essence
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

put the freeze dried raspberries in a food processor and pulse until you have a powder; set aside

put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until it feels hot to the touch and the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes  the mixture should be marshmallowy and you'll have a sore arm

transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick, shiny meringue  this will take about 5 minutes and your arm will feel just fine

change to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth  once all the butter is incorporated, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until thick and very smooth, around 8 minutes

fold in the vanilla seeds and powdered raspberries, framboise or essence

use immediately, any unused buttercream will keep in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for a month


gfs said...

Oh my, these look gorgeous! I've only tried macarons once, I really must try them again as they're so delicious (when you get them right).

Tamsin said...

What a great combination for a festive looking (and tasting) macaron! I love your honesty about the trickeries of making macarons too - my few attempts have all resulted in batches mysteriously different from each other! I look forward to giving this recipe a go though!

simmer and boyle said...

Thanks Tamsin! Lovely to hear from you, let me know how they turn out...

simmer and boyle said...

:) thanks Jas.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sally, you have inspired me to give these a try, can you please confirm if i should use icing sugar mixture or pure icing sugar?

simmer and boyle said...

Lily that's fabulous! Definitely pure icing sugar, good luck ;) Sally