How I made pistachio macarons and lived to blog about it.

I have a friend who loves to watch movies and exhorts me to watch them too, adding lots of helpful advice such as, “Make sure that when you see the handkerchief you realize it’s a symbol for the war ’cause I didn’t know that and was confused when the carnie ate the turducken, and at the end that’s a hyena, not a dog, it just doesn’t make sense with a dog, oh, and the restaurant menu contains a palindrome—wait, I shouldn’t have told you that, whoops, sorry, anyway, that’s how the paratroopers find out where the bomb is.”

Random food palindrome: Go hang a salami, I’m a lasagna hog.

Pistachio Macarons with jade turtleMy friend means well, but most of the time she scares and confuses me so much that I decide against watching any movies at all and eat some toast instead. I like toast. You can put jam on it. It almost never contains a bomb.

When I read Nigella Lawson’s recipe for “waxy pale jade” pistachio macarons in How To Be A Domestic Goddess, I immediately dismissed the recipe and made some toast. I wasn’t going to make macarons. I wasn’t going to make macarons because macarons are scary and confusing, and I already knew how the macaron movie would end. First the egg whites would tremble menacingly like that cup of water in Jurassic Park, then the pastry bag would explode and splatter wasted pistachio money all over my kitchen walls. It would be the turducken of predictable movie explosions. I knew this with absolute certainty because while I’d never eaten a macaron, I’d read aaaaall about them at Kuidaore, Kuidaore again, David Lebovitz, Foodbeam, The Traveler’s Lunchbox, and La Tartine Gourmand, give or take another five dozen food blogs. See how fashionably late I am to follow trends? That makes me doubly fashionable.

Pistachio Macaron up close[The only near-perfect macaron I managed, with “feet” and a flat top.]

Yet the waxy pale jade macarons kept pleading with me, forcing me to think about them. The legendary difficulty of the perfect macaron didn’t really matter, did it? So what if they failed? I was planning to eat them, not display them at the Louvre. Friends and family tasting them would have no idea what a macaron even was. The worst thing that could happen—and I thought about this a lot—was that Pierre Hermé would see my macarons and shriek obscenities in horrified French. I could totally live with that. In fact, I’d feel kind of honored. Even my French teacher never shrieked obscenities at me in horrified French, and if you ever heard my French, you’d know that I deserved it.

Random food palindrome: He snubs Bob’s buns, eh?

Bitten Pistachio MacaronSo I went for it. My macarons baked up with ugly domed tops and crackled surfaces, but they were ugly relative only to the spectacular creations in those blogs I linked above. Besides, ugly is a relative term; I like to call these “rustic.” These rustic macarons retained a crisp exterior, a soft interior, and melted into pistachio-rich buttery chewy mouthful of ecstasy. They are among the most luscious things to ever pass between my lips. The recipe is available at nami-nami (thanks Pille!). Please note that if you own the U.S. Hyperion edition of Lawson’s book, most of the original U.K. recipes have been mangled with appallingly sloppy volume conversions, especially this one. I strongly recommend sticking to the U.K. original which I had to special order (grumble grumble).

Next time I’ll halve the buttercream and make it less sweet. Even after filling the macarons to bulging (as you can see in the pictures), I had about a third of the batch left over. I’d also like to play with different variations so that when my friend tries to ruin another movie for me, I’ll have whole pile of these ready to stuff into her mouth. Then everybody will live happily ever after. I’m glad too; I was getting a little sick of toast.

Random food palindrome: Lived on decaf…faced no devil!

15 thoughts on “How I made pistachio macarons and lived to blog about it.

  1. You’re welcome:) Your macaroons look so much nicer than mine – with foot and everything (even if there was only one perfect one:)
    I need to give them another go now!

  2. Sit on a potato pan, Otis… and add as many “o”s to mararon as you can possibly fit in! A bas les grenouilles!

  3. Yum. I had no idea there was such a thing as a bad macaroon! Who cares what they look like? Your’s look wonderful and delicious!!

  4. hi! i just found your blog! it’s beautiful. i tried to leave a comment yesterday but i guess it didn’t take. anyway, your macarons look amazing. pistachio is one of my favorite flavors, the others being caramel, coffee, and rose…and a few exotic ones that i find ocassionally popping up at pierre herme. one of these days i’ll learn how to make them myself but right now i can’t seem to bring myself to slave over a hot oven when laduree is right around the corner. :-/ bises – a.

  5. I always (and I mean ALWAYS) define my abominations with the word ‘rustic’

    When I leave the skins on my tomatoes for my compote, it’s ‘rustic’

    When the bread loaf cracks because it probably over-proofed, it’s ‘rustic’

    When the spaghetti overcooks, I call it ‘rustic’ or likely try to blame some novice for watching it.

    Keep up the good work! And cheers to toast with NO bombs! I’m into that too!

  6. Hi Annie

    These look lovely. Normally, I would go Kate’s way and just buy macaroons from a bakery/patisserie. But I may just be persuaded to try baking them for once.

  7. Pille: Nigella’s macarons were quite modest-looking as well, so I think ours came out very well!

    cookiecrumb: Only if you care. The important thing is that they don’t kick while going down.

    Trig: I’ll add as many macarons into my mouth as I can fit in. :p

    Rachael: Thanks!

    a: I’m filled with envy! I hope to try all those flavors one day.

    Kate: Yay to rustic! I also like “homemade” and “bistro style” lol.

    Millika: Thanks! These keep remarkably well in the refrigerator, so it’s not a bad idea to make a batch. I thought they’d get soggy but they didn’t.

  8. Yikes. I didn’t know they were hard to make! I’m a little scared to try them.

    But your description of their taste … well, that takes some of that fear away.

    And I think yours look fantastic!

  9. Abby: Thanks! They weren’t hard at all (though a bit fussy), just hard to make perfectly flat with the feet, which really isn’t that important if you don’t own a bakery.

  10. I devoted a day to making these and whilst they in no way resembled the photo (I have a feeling hers are constructed out of polysterene and double backed sticky tape), they did taste delicious! Yours look not too bad at all!

  11. I love your random food palindromes! Now I’m going to be obsessed with coming up with my own.

    And your macaroons look better than anything I’ve ever baked in my entire life, or ever will.

  12. Your macarons look great! I’ve been meaning to try making them but i’m scared to even start. Mine would probably end up like the horror movie i was watching the other night. Where i kept both hands on my face because i couldn’t stand watching the gory stuff – but i still sat down and finished it even though i missed more than half of it! lol.

    And yum, pistachio is my favourite nut.

  13. Bonnie: Thanks! I have to confess I didn’t make those, I pulled them from lists online. The dirty ones are entertaining too, heh.

    Mae: Thanks! And I wouldn’t worry about it. Even if they come out horrible-looking they’ll still taste good. I don’t think they can be messed up too much.

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