Pistachio macarons herald the arrival of spring. The first appearance of green shoots welcomes garden parties and early weddings, where tiny sweet morsels are just the thing — easy to hold, light, elegant, delicious. The shine of the taut surface and wafer-like outer layer call out enticingly from an outdoor spread. One bite releases the softened almond-egg layers caressing the centre — where savoury pistachio notes dance with sweet buttercream.
Macarons like to challenge us: weather too humid, oven too hot, mixture too wet. So before starting, take a look at our 5 Common Problems When Making French Macarons. Even if you don't master pistachio macarons the first time round, you'll crack it eventually. And macarons always taste good, however imperfect they might look.
For the macaron Serves: 36
For the pistachio buttercream
- 250g butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 180g caster sugar
- 50g water
- 40g pistachio paste
To make the pistachio macaron shells
- Begin by weighing out the icing sugar and ground almonds in a bowl.
- Transfer to a food processor and whizz for a few seconds until fine. (Be careful not to over mix or the almonds will begin to release their natural oils and cause the finished macaron shells to look 'blotchy'.)
- In a large bowl pour 110g egg white over the almond/icing sugar and leave it to sit on the surface without stirring whilst you prepare the Italian meringue.
- Line 4 large baking trays with parchment paper.
- Heat the caster sugar and water in a pan to 121°C and pour over the second half of the egg whites (110g) beaten in a stand mixer. Use a thermapen to measure the temperature of the sugar syrup. Start to beat the egg whites when the sugar mixture reaches 117°C - they should be very fluffy but not yet at the 'soft peak' stage when you slowly pour the sugar syrup over them.
- Whisk for 3 minutes on high speed. Reduce the speed to medium and whisk for a further 2 minutes. Then whisk on a slow speed until the Italian meringue has cooled to 50°C.
- Use a marys spatula to fold the Italian meringue into the almond mixture. Be fairly vigorous at first.
- When the mixture is homogenous, add the food colour dissolved in the water.
- Keep folding the mixture gently until it begins to relax and starts to turn glossy at the edges. Another way to test the consistency is to dap the mixture with the end of the spatula, the imprint should fade in around 20 seconds.
- Place a round 8mm nozzle in a piping bag and fill with the macaron mixture. Pipe rounds with a 3.5cm diameter spaced 2cm apart.
- Leave the macarons to dry out overnight or place in a dehydrator on the lowest setting for 2o minutes. A dry skin should form on the surface of the macarons so you can run your fingers over them without them becoming sticky.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160°C (fan oven) - the ideal cooking temperature can range from 140°C - 170°C depending on the oven.
- Cook the macarons for 12 minutes. Open the door after 8 minutes to release the steam and again after 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a cooling rack. Wait for the macarons to cool before peeling them off the parchment paper.
To make the pistachio buttercream
- Begin by softening the butter - leave it at room temperature or cut into pieces and heat on a low heat in the microwave. It should be very soft but not melted.
- Measure out the eggs and egg yolks into a stand mixer.
- Heat the water and sugar in a pan on the hob until it reaches 117°C - use a thermapen to monitor the temperature.
- When the sugar syrup reaches 117°C start to whisk the egg mixture. When the syrup reaches 121°C and the eggs are very fluffy pour the syrup over them whilst whisking.
- Whisk on a high speed for 2 minutes, then reduce the speed to medium and continue to mix until the eggs cool and the bowl no longer feels hot.
- Add the softened butter and whisk for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add the pistachio paste. Be sure to mix the pistachio paste well before adding as the oil can separate.
- Place a 8mm nozzle in a piping bag and fill with the pistachio buttercream. Pipe rounds on half of the macarons. Top with the other half shells and refrigerate for 24 hours before consuming. The pistachio macarons will last 3-4 days in the fridge in a sealed container but are at their optimum the day after they are made.