Wednesday, October 27, 2010

{baking adventures} pistachio french macrons

I posted this past month on my BBE Facebook page about attempting these amazing little cookies, and I realized after making my third batch yesterday that I never posted about the outcome of my first attempt... well, I'm happy to report that my first attempt was pretty good for a so-not-professional baker!

If you'd like to try these out as well, here's a tutorial of how I baked mine. . . . 

Here's a shot of everything I needed corralled
{I like to get everything organized before I start baking} things move along quicker when I do this!  

Pistachio Cookie recipe:
*3 egg whites {from large eggs} 
aged in fridge seperate from the yolks for a few days
*205g of powdered sugar {grams are more precise}
*115g of shelled, unsalted almonds
*65g of shelled, unsalted pistachios
*30g granulated sugar
{optional - green and yellow powdered food coloring}

:  :  : note about egg whites :  :  :  most recipes say to let the whites "age" separate from the yolks for a few days in the fridge, and then when you're ready to bake, pull them out and let them come to room temp on the counter for up to 5 hours... I have cracked my eggs and gotten to work right there without "aging" them and it appears to not really matter... so it's really up to you!

Pistachio Cream Filling:
*45g shelled, unsalted pistachios
*1 cup powdered sugar
*6 tablespoons of butter
*1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Now onto the production and assembly!

Combine the almonds, pistachios, and powdered sugar in a food processor and blend them together LIKE CRAZY!  ... and I really mean it, most recipes call for almond and pistachio flour {which is way too expensive for me to justify buying} so this step is essentially "creating" the two flour elements and mixing it with the powdered sugar.
 Once you've ground the heck out of the nuts and powdered sugar, make sure you sift the combined ingredients into another container {the finer the dry elements the better your cookies will turn out... and yeah... don't worry about my broken plate {broke it getting it out of the cupboard, sad}  and the mess: let me just warn you, all the powdered elements sure do make a mess, which I hate creating when baking, but these are SOOO worth it!
Once you've sifted those, if there are any larger chunks left, process them again and sift again, repeating until you've gotten it totally smooth and powder-y!

OK, now grab your egg whites and dump them in your mixer and beat them on medium to high speed till they look foamy and frothy... then add your granulated sugar and it's time to start creating a meringue!
 You'll notice the whites will start beating and rising into a fluffy texture, you'll want to beat them until they create "peaks" - basically to the point you can stop the beater and pull it up and the white will form a peak that doesn't fall... if it falls, keep mixing!

Next you'll want to add your food coloring {I will say that I just made these again, and you really don't need to add the coloring, they will have a pale greenish-white color if you don't add it} If you do add coloring, be careful not to add too much, like I did, and making it look Slimer green... Like below =)
 After folding the food coloring into the meringue, add your dry elements by folding them gently into the meringue till it looks like the above photo.

 Next you want to add the batter to a piping bag... I use a freezer size ziplock bag with just the connector piece from a piping tip {you want it to have a decently large opening}.  To use a ziplock, just snip a small part of the corner off the bag and insert the connector, and you're ready to fill your "piping bag."

 Go ahead and cover your baking sheet with parchment paper, and then pipe 1-ish inch circles {yeah, these were my first attempt, kinda sloppy looking} be sure to leave space between the circles, as this batter will spread once it's on the paper... which I wish I had known that ahead of time.
 After piping the cookies, preheat your oven to about 310* and let your cookies sit out for about 20 - 45 minutes to sit prior to baking... doing this will allow the cookies to develop a "skin"... sounds odd, but you want this... I usually wait about 20 mins, since I get pretty antsy to want to eat them!

Give them about 11-14 minutes in the oven, I'd start checking them at 11, you don't wan to overcook them, but you don't want them to be underdone either... basically you want them to look like this...
 You want them to pop, and have what are called "legs" thats the part that's below the shell of the cookie - where it looks cracked-ish... but you do want to make sure that the tops are not browned... finicky little cookies I know! =)

 Let them cool on the paper completely before you pull them off the sheet, if you don't they WILL stick to the sheet and you'll loose some of the undersides... Once you pull them up, match them up according to size, like you see below.

To make the filling - food process the pistachios to a fine powder again and set aside.  Next you want to cream the room temperature butter you have set aside by beating the butter and powdered sugar, and then combine the vanilla extract and the pistachio and continue mixing it all together.

Once that's finished, go ahead and spread it on in the middle of the cookies and then store them in the fridge in an air tight container, and good luck not eating them all in a few days! =)
About the filling, it's said that the perfect macaron you need to spread the filling from edge to edge, or coast to coast as I've come to know it... and it should be able to stand on it's edge without the filling running out... I'll keep dreaming and keep making this, and as long as they taste good, that's all that matters to me! 

Good luck baking everyone,