Pictured at left are Paul's macarons-coffee, praline, chocolate and pistachio. My sister got me hooked onto Macarons while visiting her in London. They're different to coconut macaroons that you get in Australia and they've only really taken off within the last year or two in Australia with a couple of places selling them (Lindt cafe and Laurent). They're crispy, chewy, cool and delicious all in one and if that sounds confusing, try one and see what I mean!
Having been lucky enough to visit Laduree Paris, I compared the two macarons and I found that Paul's is generally superior for the ratio of filling to macaroon biscuit, hwoever Lauree has more adventuresome flavours (caramel and salt being a favourite but pistachio being my absolutely consistent favourite) whereas Paul's generally has 4 flavours. Also if you happen to get a Paul's macaron that doesn't have enough filling, then its not as good.
As far as the Australian versions go, the Laurent cafe ones do not do the word macaron justice, they don't have nearly enough filling with only a smear so the luxurious texture suffers. Lindt ones are very pretty and make a lovely gift and they are decent but just not as good as Paul's or Laduree.
I've tried making these from Martha Stewart's recipe and I wasn't too impressed with the recipe. Only 1/3 of them survived and considering how pricey pistachios are here I was not a happy camper. Next time she should provide the tips that you need to ensure that they come out well and you don't get a lot of wastage (maybe that's how she remains so smug while others flounder following her recipes!). Here are some tips that I wholeheartedly agree with as I remade them with a slightly different recipe and 2/3 to 3/4 turned out well. Nigella Lawson has a recipe for Pistachio macaroons in How to be a Domestic Goddess that I will try next. After that, I may have to go to MA (Macarooners Anonymous).
By Nigella Lawson from How To Be a Domestic Goddess
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: biscuit 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:
- 75 grams pistachios
- 125 grams icing sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 15grams caster sugar
For the buttercream:
- 55 grams pistachios
- 250 grams confectioners' sugar
- 125 grams unsalted butter, softened
- 2 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4
- Grind the pistachios in a food processor along with the icing 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 cm 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.