Sunday, 8 April 2012

Pistachio Trio: Macarons, Ice Cream and Brittle

I have been thinking about pistachios quite a lot recently, wondering whether to make some cupcakes, blondies or cookies with said nuts. For a long time now, I have wanted to make some pistachio macarons, though I have been a little nervous about using less almonds in macarons. Because of our ice cream machine (which my mother optimistically bought a few years back with the intention of churning out ice cream on a regular basis) which we sadly never use, since the Sun showed itself last month, I have been itching to make some ice cream.

The egg yolks (and surplus pistachios) left after making these macarons presented the perfect opportunity for some pistachio- ice cream- making. However, it seemed like a bit of a shame to do only two pistachio treats, so I went ahead and whipped up some brittle, too.

For the macarons, I didn't want to make a pistachio buttercream, and thought a toffee- type warmth would compliment the pistachios. I made a caramel and added it to a plain buttercream- you could substitute the caramel for honey, or do a plain buttercream with half brown sugar, half icing sugar.

Pistachio Macarons
Makes about 50


5g dehydrated egg white powder
28g granulated sugar
225g icing sugar
65g ground almonds
60g pistachios, shelled and ground in a food processor
100g egg whites

about 5 pistachios, lightly crushed, for decoration


1. Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside.

2. Measure out the dehydrated egg white powder and granulated sugar into a little bowl and stir to combine, then set aside.

3. Grind the icing sugar, pistachios and ground almonds together in a food processor and sift into a small-medium bowl.

4. In a large, clean, dry bowl of a freestanding mixer, whisk the egg whites until foamy and then sprinkle in the sugar and egg white powder while continuing to beat. Increase the speed of the mixer and keep whisking until a firm, glossy (but not stiff) meringue forms.

5. Using a soft spatula, fold in the nut-sugar mixture to the meringue in thirds, until fully amalgamated. Be cautious not to over mix, as you want the batter to flow off the spatula in a thick ribbon.

6. Transfer the batter to a piping bag with a plain nozzle (approximately 1cm diameter) and pipe round blobs (approximately 1-1½ inch diameter) onto the prepared baking trays. Firmly rap the trays against a counter top until the any air bubbles come to the surface- pop, with a cocktail stick, any which don’t burst. Sprinkle a little bit of the lightly crushed pistachios on top of half the piped rounds. Leave the piped macarons for 30-60 minutes before placing into the lower half of a preheated oven (300F/150C/mark 2) for approximately 15 minutes.

7. Allow the macarons to cool on a wire rack before removing from the trays and sandwiches pairs of shells together with your choice of filling. Refrigerate and allow to mature for at least 24 hours.

Caramel Buttercream
Makes about 50

230g unsalted butter
460g icing sugar, sifted
1-3 tbsp milk or cream

5tbsp caster or soft brown sugar
2tbsp golden syrup
3tbsp butter


1. Heat the caster/brown sugar, golden syrup and butter in a pan over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up a little and continue to cook until the mixture has thickened and become of a syrup- like consistency. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

2. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and beat until homogeneous. Add some of the milk/cream to achieve a fluffier, smooth texture. mix in the cooled caramel and add more milk/cream if necessary.

Pistachio Ice Cream
Makes 12


120g (1 cup) shelled pistachios

150g (¾ cup) caster sugar

480ml (2 cups) whole milk

½tsp almond extract

4 egg yolks

240ml (1 cup) double cream

90g (¾ cup) shelled pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped


1. Grind the shelled pistachios and one quarter of the sugar in a food processor

2. Heat the milk and pistachio-sugar mixture in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Stir in the almond extract.

3. Whisk together the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a large bowl and whisk in the mixture from the saucepan. Pour everything back into the saucepan and heat gently, to thicken, for about 10 minutes.

4. Strain the custard into the large bowl and leave to cool to room temperature before refrigerating for about 2 hours.

5. Once chilled, pour the mixture into an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to the freezer and place in the fridge 20-30 minutes before serving.

Pistachio Brittle


60g (½ cup) pistachios, roughly chopped

100g (1 cup) caster sugar

60ml (¼ cup) water


1. Grease a 13 x 9 inch rimmed baking tray with cooking oil.

2. Heat the sugar and water in a pan over a medium-high heat, while stirring, for about 9 minutes or until the mixture turns dark brown in colour.

3. Pour the sugar over the baking tray and sprinkle the pistachios on top. Leave to cool and harden for about 15 minutes before breaking into pieces.

The macaron recipe is adapted from Not So Humble Pie
The ice cream recipe is from Epicurious
The brittle recipe is from Martha Stewart

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