Pistachio Macarons and Memories of Paris

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.

Pistachio Macarons

Makes about 15 macarons

Ingredients

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

Directions

Prepare ahead:

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

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Eating Our Way Through France Part 1-Paris

This summer, in search of inspiration, I invited a few friends on a tour of France. We decided to see the sites, check out the local culture and most importantly taste the food in each area. If you are going to start a foodie tour of France there is no better place to start than Paris.

What I love about Paris is that it is so rich in history, fine architecture and art, yet very modern in style and culture. You can wander for hours through parks and along the Seine and almost forget that you are in the heart of a great city.

We stayed in the 6th arrondissement between the Jardin du Luxembourg and Boulevard St. Germain in a lovely boutique hotel called Hotel St. Paul. From the hotel we walked endlessly to see how much of this amazing city we could fit into each day.

The 6 best things about our time in Paris were:

1. Enjoying a relaxing lunch in an outdoor café in the Jardin des Tuileries after a long tour of the Louvre. There were four cafes in the park each offering a different menu, a quiet place to eat and rest before heading out for more site seeing. We chose a lovely spot and enjoyed a fresh Quiche Lorraine and salad finished off with our favourite café crème.

2. Touring the Rodin Museum and the surrounding gardens is always a special day. The gallery is housed on a mansion with picture perfect gardens. The sculptures are shown throughout the grounds and inside the house.

3. Exploring Rue Cler for food delicacies. This street is located near the Eiffel tower in the nearby neighbourhood and is home to some lovely food shops, patisseries and cafes. It is a food lovers must see.

4. Sitting in the Jardin du Luxembourg in the afternoon sun and watching the families play while listening to a free concert and sipping café crème. Parisian families scatter throughout the park enjoying the gardens and listening to music.

5. Dinner at Il Suppli. We found this lovely Italian restaurant one evening not far from our hotel. This cozy, family run bistro made us feel welcome even without a reservation and never rushed. We lingered over delights such as light and fluffy Gnocchi with buffalo mozzarella and Scaloppini Limone that was fork tender. The wine lists boasted some very nice Tuscan varietals that paired perfectly with our main courses. My desert was a rich Tiramisu that added the perfect ending to a great meal.

6. And lastly, the thing that I loved the most about Paris was the abundance of Macarons. Those fluffy little meringues in a rainbow of colours and flavours filled the shops with bright circles that remind you of buttons on a child’s sweater. Their light texture and subtle flavours tease the palette with sweet delight.

Part 2-Provence to be continued………………….