Sunday, 4 May 2008

Pistachio Macaroons

I have wanted to make these little macaroons for ages. Two of my favourite food blogs, Not Quite Nigella and A Spoonful of Sugar, have both made the macaroons and both had good things to say. I was a little nervous as I have never had a macaron before and I have never used a piping bag before.

I made the recipe taking into account the notes from the above posts. I followed Angela's example and peeled the pistachios by dropping them into a pot of boiling water and allowing them to boil for one minute, then draining them, pouring them into the centre of a tea towel and, in Angela's words, rub them madly. She also said it was simple, but mine were quite reluctant to shed their skins. I don't think my water was boiling hard enough. It took me over half an hour to peel the 130g of pistachios. Nonetheless, I was very glad I did it.

I also tried to follow the tips from both posts about rapping the baking trays on the counter before baking to eliminate the excess air. I did rap, quite loudly, but I did still end up with quite a delicate macaron.

Some of mine were quite misshapen also. I found it a little bit awkward piping the mix, firstly about how to best get the mix into the bag and then how to pipe without the little raw mix trails between the macarons. I'm sure I will get better at it though. I will have to whip some cream and practice with that.

The macarons are very very sweet. I used three baking trays for this batch and I cooked them separately because my oven tends to do strange things when it's full. I found that the batch that cooked longer (13-14 minutes) were less sweet than those that cooked for less. When you pair it with the toothache-inducing sweetness of the buttercream, it's a little overwhelming. The longer cooked ones worked much better. After the first few tries, I started putting far less filling in.

Everyone says that the recipe mades far too much buttercream than is needed for filling and it's recommended to halve it. I completely agree with this - more than half of my buttercream went to waste. If I had halved it, I could have cut some time off of my pistachio peeling too.

My macarons don't look anything like those at Not Quite Nigella or Wikipedia, but they do kind of look like Nigella's and those at A Spoonful of Sugar, so I don't think I did too badly. While I do feel a small sense of achievement now that I'm done and they are made, I don't think I'll be in a hurry to make these again. Nigella calls these cookie bliss, but I think they are too sweet for cookie bliss. Give me the salty chocolatey mix of Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies anyday.

Pistachio Macaroons
from How to Be a Domestic Goddess, by Nigella Lawson

These are the world's most elegant macaroons. The color alone, that waxy pale jade, perfectly matches the aromatic delicacy of their taste; and their nutty chewiness melts into the fragrant, soft paste with which they're paired. Of all the recipes in this book, this is the one of which I think I'm most proud: cookie bliss.

These are perfect at the end of dinner alongside some confectioner's-sugar-dusted raspberries; or alone with coffee, gracefully piled on a plate or cake stand.


for the macaroons:

1/3 cup pistachios (75g)
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar (125g)
2 large egg whites
1 tbs sugar (15g)

for the buttercream: (halve these amounts, trust me)

1/4 cup pistachios (55g)
1 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar (250g)
1/2 cup unsaled butter, softened (125g)

2 baking sheets, lined with parchment or wax paper.


Preheat the oven to 180°C. (I followed NQN's example and set my fan forced oven to 160°C, but I highly recommend to add an extra minute or two to the cooking time).

Grind the pistachios in a food processor along with the confectioners' sugar (this stops them turning into an oily mess), until as fine as dust. Whisk the egg whites until fairly stiff, but not dry, sprinkle the sugar over and whisk until very stiff. Fold the whites into the pistachio-sugar dust, and combine gently. Pipe small rounds onto your lined baking sheet, using a plain 1/2-inch nozzle. Let them sit for about 10 minutes to form a skin. Then put in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes: they should be set, but not dried out.

Remove from the oven and let cool, still on their sheets, while you get on with the filling. This is simple work: grind the nuts and confectioners' sugar in the processoor as before; then cream the butter and continue creaming as you add the nut dust. Make sure you have a well-combined soft buttercream. Then simply sandwich the macaroons together.


  1. These look nothing like french macarons. Where are the feet?

  2. Why thank you for such a nice comment, Anonymous. My apologies that my first try at making macarons does not meet your approval.

  3. I don't entirely agree with how rude the above anonymous person was, but at the same time, I too wanna see good successful food on blogs, not failures.

  4. I understand where you are coming from, Anonymous #2. I very much enjoy seeing the beautiful things people create on blog. However, I am sharing my successes and accomplishments and unfortunately, I may not be as talented a baker as some out there.

    I am not going to let that fact that my blog is very humble compared to some of them out here and the quality or standard of the food I put up may not be of Masterchef quality stop me from blogging. That's the brilliant thing about a blog! A blog is a very personal thing and this was a success to me. I don't call this a failure.

  5. Plus, I have comments that my sometimes less than perfect appearance has inspired others to go out and do better. How is that a bad thing?

    I love seeing beautiful food on blogs, but I also love seeing things that are achievable for me. I love reading about the Daring Bakers creations, but I'm not confident enough to try their works myself. I also love seeing blogs about people just like me, love to cook but they may not be the best in presentation or techniques, because what they share is encouraging.

  6. Adrasteia, I think you did a great job. I have made these cookies several times out of the cookbook and they have turned out in varying degrees of success. Also, if I remember the pictures of the macaroons in Nigella's cookbook do not have the feet either. In any case, feet or not, these are delicious cookies.

  7. Hi Anonymous,

    Thank you very much for your kind words. I completely agree, these cookies are very tasty.