As someone who has a hard time going gluten free, no matter how much my body hates wheat… French macarons have been a lifesaver of a gluten free treat for me.
I’ve never been able to get on the fake flour bandwagon, and definitely prefer things where gluten free is the default – not something that makes use of substitute flours, guar gum, or whatever to *approximate* whatever it is that the recipe was aiming for. Yes, I am a gluten free snob!
For anyone who’s ever looked online to figure out how to make your own macarons, it can be a scary thing.
Start working on the cookies 3+ days before you want to serve them. Leave egg whites out on the kitchen table for 3 days to “age” (Um.. Gross). Grind your own nuts. Weigh each ingredient carefully. Sift everything multiple times. Make sure the temperature and humidity outside falls within a very specific range. Baby the meringue. Babysit the cookies. Follow a huge list of instructions and “rules”, or expect certain failure.
Oh, and if your cookies are cracked, lack “feet”, aren’t perfectly round, perfectly smooth, or perfectly… perfect? Well then you just fail as a wife, mother, friend, hostess, and human being. The macaron god obviously hates you.*
At a retail price of $1.50+ per cookie though… ouch. Kinda leaves you stuck between a rock and a macaron-less hard place, huh?
So, I’m pleased to say that I’ve developed an easy, fool proof way to make perfect macarons. Obscenely delicious macarons! Oh, and I can sum the whole technique up in one word!
People, these are cookies, not rocket surgery. COOKIES! They are made to be snarfed, not shellacked and displayed in a museum. If your friends or guests judge you on a lack of a teeny “ruffle”/foot around you cookies, a slightly oblong shape, or having texture (*gasp*!)… let them clutch their pearls elsewhere.
Baking cookies is about doing something you enjoy, and making something tasty and delicious for the ones you love. It should never be about super precision, completing a lengthy set of bizarre rituals, and dying a little every time that someone pops that amount of work into their mouths.
So let’s drop the fussy nonsense, and stop the macaron insanity! My macarons may be ugly, but they taste a million times better than any I’ve bought in a store. Besides, ugly is the new cute, right?
Here’s the thing. The store bought macarons I’ve bought have been a little “blah” when it comes to flavor. The meringue cookie part is usually not flavored at all, and the bakeries seem to go pretty conservative on adding flavors to the filling. Granted, this is Minnesota, so it may be COMPLETELY different elsewhere.
Nonetheless, I like my baked goods to be SO rich and full of flavor, that 1 or 2 is enough to thoroughly satisfy and satiate any sweet cravings for a while. I DO come from the land of the Nanaimo Bar, though… so this may be a cultural thing for me 🙂
This recipe will take less than 20 minutes from “Hrm. I think I’ll make some macarons”, to putting those suckers in the oven… and that’s being generous (About 10 mins, for me!). The filling takes about 5 minutes of active work, and actually filling the cookies is probably another 5-10.
Read the instructions first. Take a breath. Get past all of the guilt and shame and pressure that you may have read on other macaron recipes. The fact of the matter is that even seasoned professionals still screw up macarons from time to time, even while following the “rules” religiously. This may or may not give you a “foot”, and they may have slightly more texture from the nuts than you’re “supposed” to have… but they have that perfect crispy/chewy texture that macaroons are known for… without a hit to your sanity.
Repeat after me: They are just cookies.
Good? Good. Let’s do this!
Pistachio Macarons Recipe
(Makes 20-24 cookies)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup finely ground pistachios **
3 large egg whites
4 tbsp white sugar
Green gel food coloring, if desired
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
Mix together powdered sugar and ground pistachio meal, set aside.
Mix egg whites and sugar in a *very clean* metal mixer bowl. It is very important that not only is the bowl and whisk attachment VERY clean, but that no specks of egg yolk are included with the egg white. The presence of any egg yolk or grease on your bowl or whisk will prevent the egg whites from properly whipping up. This is the only “rule” you really need to be concerned about!
Affix your bowl to the mixer, and whip eggs on high until stiff peaks form. The whites will be pillowy, thick, and marshmallowy. When you remove the whisk from the meringue, it should leave a very definite “peak” – if the tip flips over a little, that’s ok. Add a small amount food coloring, if desired, whisk in.
Dump bowl of dry ingredients into the meringue. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to gently stir the mixture until everything is well incorporated and very thick.
Once mixture is fairly uniform, beat it until it’s still thick, but oozes a bit. You don’t want to beat it till it’s fully RUNNY, but you’d like it to settle back into place if you remove some and drop it back into the mix. It’s better to under-beat it than to over-beat it.
Spoon macaron batter into a pastry / frosting bag with a 1/4″ or so opening – whether a metal tip, or just the end cut off the bag.
Pipe ~ 1.25″ – 1.5″ rounds onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If the batter isn’t running all, there’s no real worry about placing them close together – I’ll leave an inch or so between the rounds.
Pick up the sheet of piped cookies, and rap it against the counter a couple of times to dislodge any air bubbles.
Bake cookies for 13-16 minutes, or until they lift easily from the parchment. (Undercooked macarons will stick). Remove from oven, cool to room temperature, and prepare the filling.
White Chocolate Pistachio Filling
2-3 Tbsp Pistachio Butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
5 oz white chocolate chips (1/2 bag)
In a small saucepan, combine heavy whipping cream and pistachio butter, stirring with a fork or small whisk until pistachio butter is fully incorporated into the cream. Heat mixture over medium, stirring until it comes to a boil.
Remove saucepan from heat, add white chocolate chips. Stir mixture until chocolate chips are melted and completely incorporated into the mix, which should be smooth. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes, or until thick enough to fill cookies with.
To assemble Macarons
Spoon or pipe about a Tablespoon worth of filling onto the flat underside of one cookie. Top with the underside of another cookie. (Rounded sides facing out).
If any cookies collapsed or get smashed in the course of handling them, spoon the filling into the smashed cavity, leaving the flat side on the outside. Again… it’s a cookie.
Done. Snarf em happily!
* I swear, I’ve seen multiple laments about a temperamental God of Macarons. I can’t make this up.
** Finely ground pistachios may be referred to as “pistachio meal” or “pistachio flour”, depending on where you find them. It’s a specialty item, so it can be difficult to find in stores. I love Nuts Online for ingredients like this, and it’s where I order my pistachio powder from. Click here to go directly to the product listing.
Although I’ve been a happy repeat customer for years, I am required by FTC law to disclose: Nuts Online actually gifted me a bag of pistachio flour for the development of this recipe. I would never in a million years recommend a company that I wasn’t thrilled with.
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