Friday, January 15, 2010

CHOCOLATE PISTACHIO MACARONS

DON’T SHOOT TILL YOU’VE SEEN THE WHITES OF THEIR EGGS


I sit (elbow on table, chin cupped in the palm of my hand) and ponder a jar of egg whites and wonder how I got here. The other day as I stood in this very same spot (legs slightly apart, knees just bent, feet planted firmly on the ground) cracking egg after egg, yolks to the right, whites to the left, my husband stared wide-eyed (hands on hips, mouth hanging open) and finally gathered up the courage to exclaim “What? Again?” before he walked off, head shaking in disbelief. Yes, again. More whites.

I place the jar of whites ever so lovingly on the red kitchen shelf, out of danger, and I slide the second jar containing the deep yellow yolks into the refrigerator. Ideas flit through my head, pudding, cake, Bavarian cream, hollandaise, as I head to the living room where I plop down on the sofa and wonder. Wonder how I ever came to food blogging. Wonder how my life has taken such a turn, actually zig zagging up and down, side to side, back and forth, a long, strenuous yet satisfying voyage to some far away, exotic spot, an island all my own, this place I call my food blog.


Is this separation of whites from yolks symbolic, in some strange way, of my life? Food blog to the left, family to the right? Fresh out of the shell, the regal yolk is so slippery smooth, slithering its way through your fingers, across the plate, begging your immediate attention. Egg yolks, the making of something creamy smooth, ever so rich, as sweet or as savory as you please. Like husband and sons demanding your complete and unwavering attention, add just the right ingredients, motherly love, wifely adoration, gentle handling and you can make the perfect, homely dish: add soft words and smiles, extra care, thank you very much, sugar and spice and everything nice, heat ever so gently with a warm heart, coddle, pamper, indulge and, if you are lucky and you’ve followed the directions to a tee, always sunny side up, you will turn out something oh-so sweet, done to perfection.

Or throw in something spicy, hot and exotic, let it sizzle, baby, and oh you have the making of something fragrant and delectable, tangy and succulent. Throw your arms around his neck and breath in his scent, let your mind travel roads untested and raise the temperature, smoky paprika, fiery peppers, a kick of Tabasco, mustard that bites back when bitten. A little deviled egg, perhaps? Add something racy to the mayonnaise, a little zest to your sauce, a little nip here, a bite there, never hurt anyone. Au contraire, baby, au contraire!


But be warned! Ignored too long, left to their own devices whether on the table out in the heat of the day or jarred up too long in the chill of the icebox, left to simmer a tad too long and woe is me! the smell will permeate your home, rotten through and through, hard and tough or shriveled and cruel; truly a bad egg!


Flip it around and glance at what’s left: the whites. White never so perfectly white, dappled with varying shades of white, whites as delicate and fragile as my food blogging. No need to rush, take them as you please, fresh or aged, left even for days at a time, using only when perfectly ready, depending on your desire, your mood. Toss in just a tad of salt and barely a drop or two of tart, tangy lemon to stabilize and then jump right in. Whites need to be attacked head on, whisk whisking, beaters beating. Don’t be shy, too slow, too careful and nothing happens, just a whole lot of useless froth. Whiz it up, race along on high speed, sprinkle on the sweet, sweet sugar gradually beaten in, forge ahead without even a thought of pausing and, blogger beware, let nary a drop of yolk into that bowl of whites, allow not one teenage son, one wayward, bored husband wend their way into your kitchen or onto your computer or you risk the worst: falling flat! Those whites must be virgin, remain untouched, unsullied by imperfections, greed, jealousy, complaints of too much time spent on the computer, objections over too much baking. Only spotless, pure whites, immaculate recipient, fastidiously clean beaters will give you the perfect whipped meringue. Versatile, heavenly meringue, luscious, glossy, feminine meringue, meringue to be folded ever so carefully into sweet batters and creams, savory or sweet concoctions capable of wowing the most hardened of viewers, softening the heart of the wariest of sons. Those magical whipped whites: poached or baked, floating or smothered, delicate things, yet handled just right, like the best of food blogging, turned into the exotic or the simple, the elegant or the homey, opening doors to adventure, to friendship, to satisfaction and pleasure.


Whites whipped up, folded into nuts, half almond, half pistachio, snowy sugar, a dash of cocoa powder, piped out just so, concentration with each squeeze of the batter-filled pastry bag, left to dry and then popped into the oven to bake. Nose pressed against the glass pane of the oven door, hands clasped in prayer as I utter “Feet, please, feet” over and over again, silent mantra of the Mac Addict. For, once again, I have turned my egg whites into Macarons. And if I whip and fold just right, if I repeat my prayer often enough, if I, like my whites, am pure and good, then maybe, just maybe, I will pull out a baking tray of perfectly domed, gently footed, heavenly, nutty little macs.

For January’s Mac Attack held over at MacTweets, the Macaron Community, our virtual Mac Kitchen, created by Deeba and I for like-minded Mac Addicts, I have indeed Rung in the New Year with Cocoa Pistachio Macarons, using a new recipe – from Ottolenghi The Cookbook, a gift from my beautiful friend Hilda – yet taking this recipe and trying something new, half ground almonds and half ground pistachios. I used a new ganache recipe adding butter and Amaretto to the usual dark chocolate and heavy cream. New new new and I love these sumptuous macs.



CHOCOLATE PISTACHIO MACARONS
Adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi

3 7/8 oz (110 g) powdered/icing sugar
1 ¾ oz (50 g) finely ground nuts – I used half ground pistachios, half ground almonds
3/8 oz (12 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 (2 ¼ oz/60 g) egg whites
1 3/8 oz (40 g) granulated/caster sugar

Sift and then sift again the ground nuts with the powdered/icing sugar and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl.


In a separate, very clean bowl, preferably metal or plastic, whip the egg whites on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase the speed to high. The whites will become frothy then start to form soft peaks. At this point, gradually add in the granulated/caster sugar as you continue to beat the whites on high speed until you have a glossy, firm meringue.


Using a rubber or silicone spatula, fold the meringue into the nut mixture until completely blended, homogenous and the batter falls off the spatula in a thick ribbon. Put into your pastry bag with a wide tip and pipe out onto parchment-lined baking or cookie sheets (for details, see here and here).


Now is the time to sprinkle either chopped nuts or colored sugar on each shell if you so desire.

Preheat the oven to 280°F (140°C).

Allow the piped macarons to sit for about 30 minutes until a “skin” forms on the surface of each mac. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until the shells are set, risen to create “feet”, a tiny frill around the base of each shell, and are firm to the touch (when gently touched on top the shell should not have a liquid or soft center, if it does allow to bake for an extra minute or two).

Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off of the hot baking sheet onto your work surface to cool completely before gently lifting off the paper (a flat metal spatula helps) and filling with ganache.


DARK CHOCOLATE AMARETTO GANACHE

2 ¼ oz (65 g) dark, bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 Tbs (15 g) unsalted butter cut into cubes
just under ¼ cup (50 ml) heavy cream
3 tsps Amaretto or to taste (can be replaced with ½ tsp vanilla

Place the finely chopped chocolate and the cubes of butter in a bowl. Bring the cream just to the boil and then pour over the chocolate/butter, stirring until smooth. If all of the chocolate doesn’t melt just place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and stir the mixture, removing from the heat when smooth and creamy.

Stir in Amaretto to taste.

Allow to rest, stirring often, until piping/spreading consistency.

Pair evenly sized and shaped shells to form couples. Pipe about a pea-sized dot of ganache on each bottom shell then press the top shell to sandwich the macaron.


44 comments:

Deeba PAB said...

As perfct as perfect can be Ottolenghi sistah! Thank you Hilda. I love them. They are brillient Jamie. I want Amaretto toooooooooooo!!! I love the shapes you tried. I'm loving the MacTweet tales...HURRAY!!

MeetaK said...

hey there sistah - these look great i especially like the filling. and of course the comaprison to the men and yolk is too cool!

Sari said...

Your macarons are wonderful. I hope my macs will be this perfect one day! :) Great idea the Amaretto ganache. Yummy.

The Cooking Ninja said...

Beautiful macs!

This month I lost my mcFEET too. 3 egg whites - no feet but delicious feetless macs. Didn't dare to try #4. :p Now thinking what to do with these macs sitting in the fridge. LOL!

Love your heart shaped macs. Was going to do the same for Valentine's day mac. ;)

Dharm said...

Great looking macs and a lovely post too!! I love the filling...as well as the heart shaped macaron!

Happy cook said...

I love that amaratto filling. You think aobut delcious fillings. Yeah I am also glad I found the same recipe from Deeba, it really woked out.
I am so looking forward to the next month one.

Heavenly Housewife said...

Simply beautiful. I have ordered my candy thermometer and plan to start working on the Italian meringue method. I am hoping i will have better luck. Awesome flavour combination.
I have that Ottolenghi book, I am going to have a look at their mac recipe.

Nicisme said...

Gorgeous again, and that fillling is lush!
Macarons make me happy!

TKW said...

Brilliant touch in the filling! Those are gorgeous little suckers!

tspegar said...

beautiful as always.. xoxo!

Hilda said...

I love you ladies. So glad I gave you sistahs a copy of the book! God, wish my arm was long enough to just reach over there and have a couple of those. I know the flavor declinations are infinite, but chocolate will always have my heart before the others (except maybe for the pistachio-griottes at PH). And pistachios are another pure love, so these are just pure love. xo

Barbara Bakes said...

Once again you are the Queen of the Macs. I shall have to give this Ottolenghi recipe a try!

Anushruti said...

These look so beautiful and I'm so glad you entered the world of food blogging and I'm so happy to have met you. Love my conversations with you. Have a great year ahead!

Pink Little Cake said...

What a beautiful post! I just took a macaron class in New York and I found a mix of easy and dificul to make cookies. But they are adorable, amaretto..now you are talking!

Mowie @ Mowielicious said...

Wow, those are some healthy, voluptuous looking macs you got there Jamie! Fab!

Snooky doodle said...

WOW WOW WOW. Glad I found your blog. you write so well and those macaroons are perfect and so good. I ll try making them again perhaps following your advice I ll be able to make a decent macaroon. so far I ve only had disasters.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

They look so pretty and tempting! I always tend to have egg whites left to sit in my fridge!

Cheers,

Rosa

Helene said...

They are beautiful. I wish I could make macarons.

El said...

They look wonderful. I love the idea of adding amaretto to the ganache. I wish I could have one right now.

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Beautiful Jamie! SO well done.

Interesting how two of the techniques you used (letting them sit before they go in the oven and leaving them on the parchment paper until they were cool) were absolute no-nos at LenĂ´tre... These pesky little macs move in mysterious ways, n'est-ce pas?

Can't wait for next Mac tweets theme...

buffalodick said...

I found a waffle recipe here I don't have to separate the eggs- I was very happy!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

I think this is one of my favourite posts on your blog I've read so far, I enjoyed reading every line. The pistachio compliments the green pattern on that cup beautifully and I love amaretto so I know they will taste amazing.

James B said...

These just look stunning, I bet they taste it too.... Great contrast of colour as well with the green of the pistachio.

Katy ~ said...

Beautiful macs! Pistachio is a huge favorite with me. And that filling is sensational.

Nanette said...

Jamie this is the best piece I writing I have come across in a very long time! Oh and the mac's are stunning as per usual!

Barbara said...

Jamie these look wonderful.So pretty and dlicious looking. I love the heart ones. I have the Ottolenghi book but have not cooked anything from it yet. A friend borrowed it and makes the pork belly recipe. It is delicious.

Astrid said...

Jamie I love your story about food blogging. In many ways that's just the way I feel... family and friends still tend to shrug when I run around in my kitchen with the camera in hands or when I shout "STOP I need a proper pic first before you eat that"
but then it is so satisfying being a part of this big fodd blogging family, ain't it?

Chicho said...

Your macarons look perfect!! Love the photos and your blog too :)

Donna-FFW said...

Gorgeous gorgeous cookies. I love the ground pistachios in here. Oh the filling sounds wonderful!

mayssam said...

love, love, love this piece! and the macs look fabulous! I was so excited about making pudding a couple of days ago because that meant egg whites sitting in the fridge waiting for me to attempt macs again!

Mary said...

These are gorgeous. They couldn't be more perfect, Jamie. Your filling sounds sublime.

Chow and Chatter said...

perfect macs as ever jamie and your foccacia looks awesome, I am now making bread so happy
have a great weekend

Rebecca

Y said...

I've been wondering about that Ottolenghi recipe. Results look good! And I love that egg/life analogy. "Feet, please feet" is so true, it's scary :)

Elra said...

Your macarons look really wonderful jaime. Love the combination of pistachio and almond.

p.s
I had sent an e-mail on the 13th re your BBD event. Let me know if you haven't got it. I can resend it.
Cheers,
elra

Sarah said...

I see nothing came between you and perfect egg whites this time. I have never made macarons before (yes, hard to believe) but after such a pretty post I think I am hooked.

Realliveman said...

Awesome blog. I will be back for more

Junglefrog said...

They look fantastic Jamie!! I love your heartshapes too. I chickened out for this month Macattack for the simple reason that if I make macs I have to eat them and since I am trying (and succeeding!) to lose weight, I try and stay clear of sweets for a while..:( But don't expect me to be gone from the Macattack for too long!

gastroanthropologist said...

Looking so delicious! I love a tasty macaron. Loving your amaretto filling for the macaron. You've also reminded me that I have the ottolenghi cookbook and I should really try some more recipes from it.

Jeanne @ Cooksister said...

Those are utterly gorgeous, Jamie!! Just perfect, feet with ten little toes on each :) And OMG, look at the colour of the pistachio flour - I think I'm in love. Also love the "my life as an egg" tangent :)

chez us said...

Enjoying a coffee & noshing on these wonderful macarons - the amaretto ganache YUM!!!! I have to say I am loving this event .. luv luv luv!

The cute little heart shapes are adorable!!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

So perfect! Do you grind you own nuts or buy them ground?
If you guys have a contest, I volunteer to be taste-tester!

Handy said...

nice recipe going to try it

asiangrrl said...

I come back to read two heavenly chocolate entries in a row? Yes, I certainly have been gone too long. Those macs look amazing, and your writing is so vivid, as usual. Cheers!

Jill @ MadAboutMacarons said...

Fantastic, Jamie. I'm rather late here in popping in but can imagine their delicious taste. Love the Amaretto in the chocolate ganache - I'm crazy about anything cherry and chocolate just now! Yum.

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