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!