Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Cake'n'Bake Wednesday: Chocolate and Pistachio Macaroons

Happy New Year folks!

Hope you all enjoyed the festive period, and that you've fully recovered from yesterday's wine-flu!

In January 2012 Cake'n'Bake Club decided to welcome in the New Year by baking something "new", that is, something we'd never baked before. I'd wanted to have a go at making macaroons since watching them be made on The Great British Bake Off the summer before, so I thought I'd use the opportunity to try them now!

Making macaroons for the first time was a lot of fun, and even though I only made two batches I feel I learnt a lot about them, so I wanted to share some feedback/tips before the recipe. Originally, I had planned to make 4 varieties of macaroon: Vanilla, Raspberry, Chocolate and Pistachio; and I attempted the vanilla/raspberry batch first. The first thing I learnt was that ABSOLUTELY UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should liquid flavouring and colouring be added to the batter at the end of the process - all liquid colours and flavouring should be added to the egg white/meringue BEFORE the dry ingredients are mixed in. If you decide to add, for example, raspberry syrup and pink food colouring to your batter AFTER the dry ingredients have been mixed in this will complete ruin the consistency of the batter and make it un-usable.

For comparison, I added the vanilla flavouring into the meringue before adding the dry ingredients, and that batter held it's shape and had a nice consistency. I added the raspberry flavouring and pink colouring after adding the dry ingredients, and... well you can see the difference.

Anyway, the second thing I learnt was that using "dry" flavourings (such as cocoa powder and ground pistachios) rather than "wet" flavourings (such as vanilla essence and raspberry syrup) made MUCH better macaroons, so in future I think I will definitely try to use dry flavourings. Joy came up with the idea to use paste flavourings, and I thought about exploring the potential of milkshake powder... but as I have tried neither suggestion I can't say which is best!

Well, I ended up throwing away all of the raspberry macaroons and half of the vanilla ones, so I'm not going to share that version of the recipe - but below is the recipe for the chocolate and pistachio varieties!

Note: this recipe makes half chocolate and half pistachio macaroons, if you'd like just one variety just amend the ingredients as necessary!

Prep time: 45 mins
Bake time: 20 mins per batch
Makes 30 macaroons (15 chocolate and 15 pistachio)


40g ground almonds
2tbsp cocoa powder
170g icing sugar
60g pistachios (I used whole but ground can also be used)
3 medium eggs
A pinch of salt
75g caster sugar
a little extra cocoa powder and ground pistachio for decoration

for the chocolate filling:
60g margarine
100g icing sugar
1tbsp cocoa powder

for the pistachio filling:
30g margarine
30g cream cheese
120g icing sugar
10g roughly chopped pistachios

  1. Line three baking trays with greaseproof paper and make sure that all of your equipment is clean and dry. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3.
  2. Tip the ground almonds, cocoa powder and 80g of the icing sugar into a blender and blend to a fine powder. Place this mixture into a bowl and put to one side.
  3. Tip the pistachio's and remaining icing sugar into the blender, and blend this to a fine powder. Place this mixture into another bowl and put to one side.
  4. Place the egg whites and pinch of salt into a large clean bowl and whisk on a high speed. Once soft peaks form add the caster sugar a little at a time, continuously whisking, until a smooth, thick and glossy meringue has formed. Put half of the meringue into a separate bowl.
  5. Take one of the bowls of meringue and gently fold in half of the chocolate dry mixture with a spatula. Once combined, fold in the remaining chocolate dry mixture, then place the chocolate mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm nozzle.
  6. Pipe 20 2cm rounds onto one of the baking trays, then lift and drop the baking tray onto the work surface a couple of time to help the mixture settle. Let the macaroons rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, or until a "skin" has formed on the top.
  7. Repeat step 5 with the remaining bowl of meringue and the pistachio dry mixture, and pipe 20 2cm rounds of pistachio batter onto the second baking tray. Again lift and drop the tray onto the work surface a couple of times, then sprinkle some ground pistachios over each macaroon for decoration before placing to one side to rest.
  8. You should have a little chocolate and a little pistachio mixture left in your piping bags. On the third baking tray, pipe 10 chocolate and 10 pistachio rounds, and tap against the work surface. Sprinkle the chocolate rounds with a little ground pistachio for decoration, and the pistachio rounds with a little cocoa powder for decoration. Leave the tray to rest with the others for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Once a "skin" has formed over the macaroon shells (you should be able to touch them lightly without any mixture sticking to your finger) place them in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for at least 10 minutes. Carefully remove each macaroon from the baking sheets using a spatula, and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Whilst the macaroons are cooling, prepare the fillings by mixing the ingredients together until a smooth paste has formed (obviously make the chocolate  filling and pistachio filling in separate bowls!), then place this into piping bags.
  11. Sandwich two chocolate shells together with chocolate filling to make 10 chocolate macaroons, then sandwich the pistachio shells with the pistachio filling to make another 10 macaroons. You should be left with the chocolate shells with ground pistachios on, and the pistachio shells with the cocoa powder - these will be you "vice versa" macaroons. Sandwich the pistachio shells with chocolate filling, and the chocolate shells with pistachio filling - you should end up with 5 of each.
  12. Pick up the most appetising looking one, take a big bite and marvel at the crunchy, gooey, sweetness!
Happy Thoughts

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