Is it just me, or do macarons always seem like one of those things that are so pretty and so delightfully delicious but impossible for the layman to make? I always thought so. During April’s Seattle adventure, we made multiple stops into Le Panier Very French Bakery, where we scored all manner of pastries, meringues, and, of course, macarons. Really, aren’t they just so smooth and perfect looking that you’d think they just materialized out of no where? Can you believe someone actually made those? I couldn’t before, but now I can, and so can you!
If only you knew the many, many, many almonds and pistachios that were sacrificed for the cause as I tried and tried to nail the making of macarons. It took me four (4) attempts to get these right! However, I think it was totally worth it, as my victorious cry of “Aha!” ringing through the house last night would evidence. My first try, I was far to aggressive with the egg whites: I whipped them up, then proceeded to dump the sugar and nut mixture into them and continue whipping rather than folding (I’m sorry egg whites, you deserved better). The next try was better: I folded rather than whipped, but still, not quite right. The next try I got even closer: my macarons developed that coveted little “foot” at their base, but the temperature was just a tad too high and they were more toasty and crisp than I would have liked. Finally, on attempt number four… SUCCESS! They looked right AND tasted right! Eureka! If you don’t believe I was truly this excited, please see the previous reference to a very loud “Aha!”
As the myriad of available colors may indicate, macarons are extraordinarily versatile. They’re frequently made with finely ground almonds, and adding various extracts, zests, and powders can quickly alter their flavors. Attempt #3 of mine were raspberry flavored: I simply substituted 3 tablespoons of finely ground freeze-dried raspberries ($3 at Trader Joe’s!) for the +3 tablespoons of powdered sugar. I also pondered doing a lavender macaron with citrus filling, but the ever-inspiring Cannelle et Vanille beat me to the punch on that one. That said, have fun with it, and play around with flavors! I don’t doubt that you’ll impress both your friends and yourself with these lovely little treats!
Pistachio Macarons with Coconut Cream Filling
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes about 20 macaron sandwiches
2 egg whites
2 oz. (about 1/2 cup) pistachios
1 cup + 3 Tbs. powdered sugar
5 Tbs. granulated sugar
green food coloring (optional, but recommended)
Coconut Cream Ingredients:
2 oz. mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. coconut extract
2 Tbs. + 2 tsp. sweetened coconut, finely shredded
3 medium mixing bowls
electric hand mixer or stand mixer
food processor (a mini one will do just fine)
1 cookie sheet
1 pastry piping bag
To Make the Macarons:
Preheat the oven to 325F. Allow the egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before using.
In a food processor, grind the pistachios to a fine meal, until there are no large chunks remaining. Add 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar to the ground pistachios, and process until well-combined (this will only take a few seconds). Add the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar and process until well-combined.
Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, whip the egg whites until stiff. Gradually, one tablespoon at a time, add the granulated sugar as you continue to whip the egg whites. Add 4-5 drops of green food coloring if you want your macarons to be truly green. Continue to whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Next, add about a third of the powdered sugar and pistachio mixture to the egg whites, and fold the mixture into the egg whites. Continue to do so until all of the pistachio mixture has been added and completely folded in to the egg whites. There should be no streaks of egg whites or clumps of pistachio mixture left.
Fill a piping bag with the macaron batter. If you’re alone, setting the bag in a glass makes it much easier to fill. Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper-covered cookie sheet into 1″-2″ circles. Try to make the macarons as uniformly sized as you can. If you like, you may use your finger or a spatula to smooth out the small peak that will be left on the top of the macaron. When you’ve piped all of the batter onto the sheet, rap the full cookie sheet on the counter a few times. This will help the macarons to flatten out just a bit.
Bake the macarons for 15-17 minutes. They should rise just a bit and have nice little “feet” at their bases. Remove from the oven, and allow them to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the baking sheet. Set aside until ready to assemble.
To Make the Coconut Cream Filling:
Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the room temperature mascarpone until it is smooth and creamy. Gradually add the whipping cream. Whip the two together, and continue to do so until the mixture is light and well-whipped. Add the coconut extract and beat in. Gently sprinkler in the powdered sugar. Finally, mix in the shredded coconut. Ta da! You’ve got one crazy good coconut cream filling for your adorable macarons!
Grab yourself two macarons which are very close in size (they’ll tend to vary just a wee bit). On the bottom side of one macaron, gently spread 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of the coconut cream filling. Place the bottom side of the second macaron atop the filling. Very gently squeeze the two macarons together. Bam! You’ve just made yourself the cutest little French treat one could imagine! Well done!
I recommend storing these in the freezer in an airtight container so as to avoid allowing them to become soggy. That’s no bueno. About an hour before you’re ready to serve them, set the container, still sealed, in the refrigerator, allowing the macarons to thaw. Don’t leave the container on the counter to thaw, because some condensation will likely form in the container, and the macarons will get kind of soggy. These will keep in the refrigerator for about two days, longer in the freezer. Enjoy!