It has been almost a year since my last trip to Paris. I remember clearly how much fun we had discovering her beautiful neighbourhoods, her arts and culture and her history. I also recall how we enjoyed discovering new and interesting places to eat and culinary delights to savour. Paris holds a special place in my heart as a great walking city and a great people city.
One of my fondest memories of Paris was the abundance of Macarons. Beautiful patiserries like Ladurée, Jean-Paul Hévin, and la Maison du Chocolat dot the neighbourhood streets offering row upon row of these lovely colourful sweets. We tried many different varieties from many different shops. These little gems are not only light and delicious, but they are also gluten-free. I was travelling with a friend who is a celiac and macarons were as much a treat for her as they were for me.
In memory of our trip I am featuring a recipe for pistachio macarons. The subtle nutty flavour in the rich butter cream nestled between two pillows of meringue makes this flavour one of the nicest.
Makes about 15 macarons
For the Shells:
2 large eggs
½ cup ground almonds
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ tbsp. superfine sugar
Green food colouring
For the Pistachio Ganache:
Scant ½ cup whipping cream
½ pistachio paste
1 tbsp. vanilla sugar
2 eggs yolks
1 1/2 tbsp. softened butter
Separate the eggs and set the whites aside in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before making the macaron shells the following day. Reserve the yolks to use in the ganache.
To make the pistachio ganache:
Gently beat the whipping cream in a saucepan and dissolve the pistachio paste in it. Add ½ tbsp. vanilla sugar and bring to a boil. In a mixing bowl, blend together the egg yolks and the other ½ tbsp. vanilla sugar and add to the cream-pistachio mixture. Heat to 200 degrees F, using a candy thermometer to check the temperature. Let cool, then add the softened butter, mix in well, and chill in the refrigerator.
To make the shells:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Finely grind the ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar in a blender. Strain the mixture over a baking sheet and cook for 5-7 minutes. Let cool.
In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites into snowy peaks using an electric hand mixer. When they start to stiffen, gradually add the superfine sugar, beating constantly. Add a few drops of green food colouring and combine until evenly dispersed. Strain the almond mixture over the egg whites and fold in using a silicone spatula.
Fill a pastry bag with this mixture and pipe out 30 x 1 ½ inch uniform circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let stand for at least 1 hour in a dry place until a crust forms on the surface, then cook for 10-12 minutes. Let the shells cool, then pour a trickle of water between the parchment and the baking sheet and remove the shells using a small frosting spatula.
To assemble the macarons:
Spread the pistachio cream over half of the shells, then top them with the remaining shells. Chill for 1 hour before serving.
Recipe from Macarons by Berengere Abraham