the cupped ox

Cardamom French Macarons with Pistachio Buttercream

I’ve always had an interest in making these adorable and very tasty cookies but I’ve been so intimidated by the process that I never wanted to try. I was nervous about failing. They’re quite the finicky cookie. I’ll let you in a secret though, they’re not that difficult and everyone will think you’re the best baker around.

I took a class at a kitchen store to ease me into making these. It hadn’t really occurred to me to take a class but for my birthday this year, my boyfriend gave me a gift card and said to use it for classes for the 2 of us. But once I saw the macaron class, I apologized to him immediately because there was no way I was going to miss this opportunity.

We made three different flavors in the class. I’m going to share the recipe for the one that I made.

In bullet points, these are the simplified steps:

  • First, sift your dry ingredients
  • Next, whisk your egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar until you get stiff peaks
  • Then, slowly add the meringue to the dry ingredients.
  • Carefully, fold all meringue and dry ingredients until you have a shiny mix that has a thick, consistent flow off the spoon sort of like lava. (not too runny)
  • Pipe the batter into 1 1/3 inch circles. Drop pan a few times to get air bubbles out.
  • Let trays sit until you get a film over the batter
  • Bake.

It doesn’t sound so difficult or intimidating when it’s in bullet points, is it?

These are sitting until the filmy layer forms

You should be able to lightly touch batter and it should feel tacky and have a slight spring but the batter should not stick to your finger.

These are the espresso macarons. I wanted to show you what it looks like when they crack. This can happen if you under mix the batter.

What you’ll need:

+ 7 oz powdered sugar
+ 1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
+ 4 oz almond meal or flour
+ 4 (5 ounces) egg whites, at room temperature
+ pinch of cream of tarter (no more than 1/8 teaspoon)
+ 3.5 oz granulated sugar
+ 1 batch of pistachio buttercream

What you do:

Preheat oven to 325°F and place rack in center. Line baking sheets with parchment paper OR silpat mats.

Sift powdered sugar, cardamom and almond flour into a bowl. (this is really important)

To make the meringue, whisk egg whites on medium speed to a foamy, soft peak stage. Add cream of tarter until soft peaks form. Add granulated sugar and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form. (this is to be done well in a stand mixer)

Add about a third of the meringue to the dry ingredients and fold until combined. Continue adding the meringue and folding gently until the mixture is shiny. Check the consistency by raising the spatula and having a slow, steady drip from the spatula.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag that is fitted with a small round tip (#8 or #10, the smaller the tip the easier it is to control the batter). Pipe 1 1/3" rounds on the lined baking sheets (at least ½" apart). Firmly tap the bottom of each baking sheet on the work surface to release trapped air. Let stand at room temperature for 15-30 minutes (this time varies on temperature, humidity, air flow, etc) so check to see if a slight crust/film has formed. The macaron should not stick to your finger when lightly touched.

Bake one sheet at a time (if your oven has a hot spot, you’ll want to rotate your pan part way through bake time) until macarons are crisp and firm, about 12-15 minutes. You may need to lower the temperature to 300°F if macarons are still soft. (oven may be too hot if the tops of the macarons look crinkled)

Let macarons cool on baking sheets for 2 to 3 minutes. Make sure they are completely cool before filling. They should pop right off the sheet.

Pistachio Buttercream

What you’ll need

+ 2 large egg whites
+ ½ cup granulated sugar
+ 6 ox unsalted butter, softened, cut into 2-inch pieces+ ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
+ 4 tablespoons pistachios, very finely chopped

What you do:

Lightly whisk egg whites and sugar together over simmering water until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is too hot to touch (or candy thermometer reads 140°F)

Pour the hot mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on low speed, gradually increasing to high speed until egg whites double in volume. The meringue should have stiff, glossy peaks. (about 10 minutes)

On low speed, add butter (one piece at a time) until mixture is smooth in appearance. Whisk in vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the pistachio nuts.

Assemble macaroons with 1 tablespoon (or less) of the buttercream between 2. Roll the filled cookies in the remaining 2 tablespoons of pistachio nuts to finish.