Thursday, 17 January 2013

Pistachio Macarons with Pistachio and White Chocolate Ganache

During December my kitchen saw many baked goodies mostly macarons, some cakes and  few desserts. Most of them were given away as gifts, some shared and some, we indulged at home when friends came over during the Christmas holidays. And my horrendous baking has started showing effects on my waistlines too. So this year, I am thinking of diverting my cooking slightly into another direction, from baking desserts and cakes, to more of curries and savoury stuffs. That’s not me, but that’s what my family need. I am not going to bake any more of those massive cakes for my men to nibble on, and leaving the whole lot for me unless there is an occasion to celebrate. That’s what I am thinking of doing this year and I have kept that deal so far. I hope it stays longer.

Pistachio macaron would probably be the first macarons that I ever wanted to try. Shelled pistachios don’t come cheap, so I thought I will wait for a special occasion to give it a shot and not on those moments where spur of macaron temptation sprouts. I was confused with what filling to go in as I thought some sort of citrusy filling or cardamom based filling would go the best. But since the gifts were going out for the son’s teachers and my neighbour friends who are all white, I dint know how they would like the flavour of cardamom as that would be something quite unusual for them. So I settled myself with some thing simple, and added ground pistachios to the white chocolate Ganache for a bite. It went down so well with all who had it and I was even told to make them again. 

The basic recipe is Ottolenghi’s. I have been wowed by my friend Finla’s amazing macarons and I thought I had to give her recipe a shot, and I am so glad I did. The recipe is perfect with all good characteristics of a perfect macaron and it tasted just awesome. I thought it was slightly less sweet than mine, but fantastic! I am so going to stick to the recipe and try different flavours using the same, which I did already around last Christmas.

When I bake macarons to give away, I always bake 3-4 flavours at the same time as I love to see the colourful combination of different macarons wrapped in a beautiful gift box. It is an eye candy and would wow anyone who haven’t had macarons before. This pistachio macaron adds to my favourite list of macarons.

Pistachio Macarons with Pistachio and White Chocolate Ganache
Makes 20-22 medium size sanwiched cookies

60g aged egg whites
30g shelled pistachios
30g almond meal or blanched almonds, you can use whole almonds as well
40g caster sugar
100g icing sugar
Few drops of bruce green colour (optional)

For pistachio-white chocolate Ganache
150 mls double cream
125 g white choc
¼ cup pistachio kernals, 30g
2 tbsp caster sugar

Preparation (shells):

**For an elaborate macaron post with my tips and links to other helpful sources, check out my first macaron post here.  
1.For ageing egg whites: Place egg whites in a clean bowl. Cover it with a cling cover and poke few holes in the film. Keep it in your kitchen counter for 24-48 hours or in fridge for up to 5 days. This ageing of egg whites helps to reduce the moisture content in the egg whites and make firmer shells. Fresh egg whites make fragile cookies which may break off as you try to lift them off the baking paper.

2. Powder the nuts and icing sugar together in a food processor or a grinder into flour-like fine powder. Transfer them to a large bowl and sieve 1-2 times to break up the lumps. Transfer them to a large mixing bowl and keep aside while you work with meringue and prepare your baking sheet and piping bag.

3. Line your baking sheets with baking paper or silpat. Fit your piping bag with a plain round tip and place it in a tall glass or a jar to make the job easier while scooping the batter in.

4. For making meringue, using an electric blender, whisk egg whites in a squeaky clean bowl (preferably metallic bowl as it is difficult to maintain a plastic/glass bowl grease free) on high until it starts to form soft peaks. Add in caster sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. It should be like a smooth, glossy shaving cream like form. If adding any colour, add once stiff peaks are formed and then beat again to stiff peaks incorporating the food colour. Make sure it is not over beaten and dry, which would result in dry shells.

5. Add the dry mixture to meringue in 2-3 portions and start folding it until everything is just combined and no more of dry mixture could be seen. Use a flexible spatula for this and mix until you get a smooth, shiny batter that ruggedly drips down the spoon once you lift it. DO NOT over mix once you have reached that thick batter stage. For testing, place a teaspoon of batter in a plate and you see it spreading flat slowly, then the batter should be ready. If it has a peak on top, give couple more folds and check again. Keep checking the batter at each stage by placing a spoon of batter in the plate to judge the consistency.

6. Pour the macaron batter into the piping bag. Once the batter is all poured in, twist the ends of piping bag tight to seal the batter in. Pipe out small rounds of about 2 cm diameter on your baking paper leaving about 2 inches in between. The macaron batter will spread and then join hands with the next one if they are piped too close, so make sure leave at least 2 inches between them. Rap the baking sheet few times on a table to remove any bubbles trapped in the batter. (To help you with the round shape, you can use this template).

7. Let the macarons sit to dry for as long as it forms a thin skin on top or is dry and leaves no indentation once touched or the batter doesn’t stick to hands once touched. It depends from place to place depending on the weather and humidity. In a humid place it will take as long as 2-3 hours whereas here it takes under 30 minutes, but I leave for a bit more.

8. Preheat the oven to 140 degress Celcius. Bake the macaron for 12-14 minutes. Do not open the oven until they are completely done. Take them out and let them cool down for
30 minutes. Peel the baking paper off the shells gently, and sort them out with same size shells. Fill them with Ganache and leave it in fridge to mature for a 2-3 days two to get maximum flavour out of it.

It is very important to mature the cookies as that filling will steep into the shells and the flavours blend well. Unfilled shells can be frozen.

For the filling:
1. Bring double cream to scalding (steaming) point in a heavy base pan or in microwave. Once you start seeing small bubbles appearing along the sides, turn the heat off and add chopped chocolates into it. Leave it for couple of minutes and then stir well until combined.

2. Grind pista into fine powder with caster sugar and mix it well into the Ganache.

3. Leave it in fridge until it the mixture is really cold. Then whip it up to form stiff peaksfirms up enough to pipe or spoon. It should not be runny and should be stiff and easy to spread. White chocolate may take few hours to harden, but if it gets too stiff, place in the microwave and warm for few seconds until spreadable. you can also whip the Ganache once the mixture is really cold.

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