Pistachio and Lemon Cream Macarons

 Pistachio Lemon Cream Macarons (02) by MeetaK
I've always said - the sweetest of surprises are most precious and come in small boxes. This time it's no different.

The macarons story began on Twitter, when a few of us started discussing the delicacy of macarons and the high failure rate many have faced. As the discussions evolved it turned into a kind of challenge. Are we "mac retards?" was a question that was posed.

My own try was not much of an effort. I had read a bit about macarons and remembered enjoying them from the trés chic locations in Paris and Salzburg. One Sunday afternoon Soeren and I just threw a few ingredients together that I thought would make macarons. I did not consult any recipes just went ahead - well what I got instead were these lime kisses. While they were delicious and made perfect little crispy meringue cookies they were not macarons.

As I began seeing several macarons popping up around the blogs I decided to read up a bit more and realized there was more to the macaron legacy. And that's the problem - the more I read the more averse I became towards them. Until I finally decided that I feared them and could not make macarons without even giving it a serious try. With that chapter closed my only angst was having it assigned as a Daring Bakers' challenge. Truth be told, I even thought of selecting it myself when I hosted last year to get it out of the way, but my courage abandoned me and I chose the éclairs instead.

However, I do like taking on a challenge and enjoy jumping over my own shadow to prove to myself that I can do it. I dislike saying "I cannot!" without even having had a go and that's exactly what I was doing.

Courage and inspiration came in the form of Jamie, Hilda and Deeba, who were all on different mac stages. Some had tried and succeeded others had failed and I had failed without trying. As we lit up Twitter with our mac talk many others came out of the closet and decided to join our mac express as we called it. Soon Ilva, Aparna, Deborah and Barbara also joined in and we were all happily riding the mac express.

Deeba actually got the challenge going and Jamie took action and we decided to defy our bête noire by making macarons.

Pistachio Lemon Cream Macarons (01) by MeetaK

Mmmmmm Macarons
OK, what is a macaron already? I hear a few ask. While I am not an expert, I usually have the urge to demystify my subject by researching it. Since I did do my fair share of reading on the subject, I would like to pass on the information to those who are considering tackling the macaron.

For starters it has nothing to do with the American macaroons, which is a chewy coconutty cookie. In Germany we also have something very similar to these type of macaroons called Kokosmakaronen often available during Christmas time.

French macarons are somewhat of a legend and they should not be dishonored by being called a cookie. The macaron is a pastry, a delight of a dessert where there are two pastry shells made of ground almonds, egg whites, icing sugar and sugar. These pastry shells encase a delicate filling flavored in a symphony of different varieties.

It is believed that they made their way to France from Italy as early as 1533 by the chefs of Catherine di Medici and finally came to their fame in 1792 when two nuns seeking asylum in Nancy during the French Revolution baked and sold macarons to support themselves. They became known as the macaron sisters! At that time the macaron was just plain pastry no flavor and no filling. It wasn't until the 1900s Ladurée's Pierre Desfontaines revolutionized the macarons by taking two pastry shells and filling them with ganache. Today besides Ladurée there is, of course, Pierre Hermé, both have elevated the macarons to a new level and made them legendary. For the history buffs you'll find more information on The Nibble.

Before we jump into the recipe here are a few tips I collected along the way.

Sticky Note 1 tipstricks

Prep work: Macarons are fine little rounds and if you are not a trained macaron maker it might be a good idea to draw a stencil for perfect rounds. I simply flipped my baking paper around and drew circles using a (mathematical) compass about 3.5 cm in diameter. Then I placed some white parchment paper on the baking tray flipped my baking paper back around and was able to pipe close to perfect circles. Make sure you gently remove the white parchment paper from beneath the baking paper. Otherwise you’ll have a nice flame in the oven!

Macaron Template For easy piping you might find this macaron template useful.

Sift your ingredients: If required multiple times. What you want is powdery ground nuts with no lumps. The almond and icing sugar mixture may be pulsed in a food processor to make finer. I sifted my nut and icing sugar mixture again after it was pulsed in the food processor.

Use aged egg whites: This is not a joke. Leave them to age for one to three days at room temperature or up to five days in the fridge. Fresh egg whites are more likely to result in macarons that are too fragile and flat. Veronica has a great post about aging egg whites for macarons that I found interesting.

Consistency of magma: I've read this phrase often and wondered what it was supposed to mean. Having made my macarons I understand. The final macaron batter should basically not be too liquidy nor too stiff. When you lift your spatula from the batter it should basically flow back in thick ribbons. The perfect test is to place a dab of batter on a plate and it should slowly sink back without leaving peaks. If it does form peaks give the batter a few more folds.

Macronnage: This is the key step – the folding technique to achieve the shiny, smooth and pliable mixture. Once the meringue is added to the almond mixture it needs to be incorporated. With a spatula start from the middle, work the spatula from the bottom toward the top, almost as if you were cutting the mixture, then fold.

Let the batter rest and form skins: Another phrase that always got me wondering. After the shells have been piped on the cookie trays, let them sit for 30 minutes to a maximum of 1 hour so that they form skins and dry. Although many recipes call for it, some say it’s not necessary. I tried thinking logically (for a change) and decided that it makes sense – the skin that forms probably keeps the macaron from floating away once it hits the heat of the oven – my logic.

Removing the macarons from the paper: This is where I did experience my first problems. Some of my shells got a little stuck to the baking paper. So, I was thankful to have read about a little trick to make it easier to remove the macarons. After baking, pour a little bit of water underneath the paper. After a while the steam will have loosened the macarons. However, do not let them sit in the water or else they will become soggy.

Let the macarons rest for a day: They're supposed to taste better with a bit of rest. However, I am not too sure that will an easy rule to follow!

One of the articles I read and re-read like my macaron bible was from MercotteDesperately seeking macarons. I recommend it to all of you who want to take on the challenge of making macarons in your own kitchens.

I had very much decided on pistachios fairly early in the challenge – my affinity to the nuts is not a secret. Let’s just say I am nuts about those delicate green nuts. The very first place to go to for a recipe inspiration when it comes to macarons is none other than the amazing Helen of Tartelette. I trust her recipes and knew that if I used one of her recipes my macarons just could not fail. Luck was on my side because she did indeed have a recipe for pistachio macarons
I decided to play around with the filling and settled on a lemon flavored creamy kind. My head began spinning with ideas and as I wrote them down I decided on a simple cream cheese, a bit of butter and some lemon curd. Pistachio and lemon cream macarons – my first macaron creation!

Pistachio and Lemon Cream Macarons

[Printable version of recipe here.]
For the pistachio macaron shells
90g egg white (approx. 4 eggs), aged for a little over 24 hours on the countertop
30g fine granulated sugar
200g icing sugar
55g almonds
55g pistachios
few drops of green food coloring to make the green pop a bit more
For the lemon cream cheese filling
225g cream cheese
2-3 tablespoons butter, softened
60g lemon curd recipe

For the pistachio macaron shells
  1. Prepare your baking tray and baking sheets with a stencil of circles as described above.

  2. In a large mixing bowl mix the egg whites with an electric hand beater (alternatively you can use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment) until it is thick and frothy. Gradually add the sugar, whisking all the while, until the mixture turns into a thick glossy meringue. The consistency should be similar to hair mousse or shaving foam. Make sure the the meringue is not overbeaten or else it will be too dry.

  3. In a food processor pulse together icing sugar, almonds and pistachios until the nuts are finely ground and powdery. Sift the mixture to make sure there are not lumps.

  4. Place the dry ingredients into a bowl, then add a few drops of the green food coloring. Add the meringue and give it a quick fold using the macronnage technique described above. Fold a few times to break the air. Continue until you get a smooth and supple mixture, thick in consistency so that when you lift the spatula in flows back in thick ribbons. Test a small amount on a plate – should the tops fall back and flatten by themselves then it is ready, if not give it a few more folds. 

  5. Fill a piping bag with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (3.5 cm in diameter) on your prepared baking paper. Leave the macarons to rest and dry for about 45 minutes.

  6. In the meantime preheat the the oven to 140 degrees C. When the macarons are ready bake the shells for 15-20 minutes depending on their size. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Use a flat offset spatula to gently remove the shells from the baking paper and allow to cool further on a rack. 
Sticky Note 1 notes
Storing Macarons
If you are not going to be using them right away you can store the shells in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
They freeze well too but it is recommended to freeze them unfilled. To fill them take the shells out of the freezer 48 hours prior to serving and without defrosting fill them. This way the flavors will be allowed to blend as they thaw.
For the lemon cream cheese filling
  1. In a bowl beat all of the ingredients at medium speed until thick and creamy. Chill for two to three hours.´
Assembling the macarons
Fill the lemon cream in a plain tipped piping bag and pipe small dollops the size of small macadamia nuts on one of the shells then gently cover with another. Do not press. Continue to do this until you have used up all of the filling and shells.

And finally …

How to eat a macaron
Do not dare to pop the whole macaron in your mouth. These babies are meant to be savored slowly and appreciated with every bite. Take a macaron and hold it between your thumb and forefinger. Please take time to notice the “feet”. Take your first small bite – notice the crunch followed by the chewy and moist almost cake-like interior. Now take the last bite and sit back and savor these little pillows of delight.
Enjoy Veronica’s candid step by step instructions of how to eat an macaron.

Pistachio Lemon Cream Macarons (04) by MeetaK
While a macaron critic will probably scrutinize and say these are not domed enough, but I am still strutting my stuff (yes all over again ;-)) at the success of these macarons. My sweet surprise came when I peaked into the oven and saw the build up of macaron happy feet. They tasted sensational. The crunchy pistachio and the tangy lemony filling went perfectly well together. After an overdose of macarons I packed a few in small boxes and gave a the sweet surprises to two of my dearest friends – AK and D. Both have been a huge support and motivation to me during the past months. I love you, ladies!

Soeren was also delighted with these macarons as he piped out his long shaped shells and waited for them to rest and form skins he danced the happy feet dance with me as the macarons began looking good. He was not much for the filling and gladly munched on the shells.
I have a few great flavor ideas for my next macarons! Practice makes perfect and with the first success I am a willing learner.

You'll be able to see all the people who took part and conquered the challenge after the 15th September over at Life's A Feast. Enjoy!

Cookie Cravings from WFLH:
Milan Cookies Ginger Shortbread Lime Bars

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2009 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First
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  1. I am in treas of joy seeing this perfection.
    Mine failed again.

  2. I am in tears of joy seeing this perfection.
    Mine failed again.

  3. A fantastic flavor combo! Your macarons are extremely beautiful and your pictures are works of art!



  4. pistachio I LOVE! these macarons are perfect bits of heaven. meeta i'm so proud and envious at the same time. love how u've presented them - in my favourite colour too. green with envy. LOL.
    lots of love! xx

    thanks for all the tips & tricks..will need them when i attempt macs.

  5. They look absolutely beautiful, and I have to try that filling! :)

  6. OMG, they are so beautiful Meeta..this is such a work of art seriously..I am sure they are many who will benefit from your clear instructions!..thank you for sharing !

  7. I'm happy even just looking at the pictures. :)

  8. Stunning Meeta, delicious blend of flavors and extremely gorgeous pictures! the post is very inspiring and i hope to make macarons soon :)

  9. So it was a DB challenge? I am so confused!

    Your macs look great! I am very lucky cos Jen has made us several flavors: matcha, strawberry, pistachio, chocolate...mmmm! I love sinking my teeth into the shell - I'm with Soeren on that part!

  10. Stunning! Just perfect! They came out different than mine, but we are both Mac Queens now, my love! This was a great challenge to all of us, only the first in a long line of baking challenges together, I do hope! Yours a truly beautiful and I must try this flavor combo next!

  11. Thank you! I am encouraged by your comments for sure.

    Diva - you are a swwetheart. love it when friends are proud of me. and envy you know I have been telling you the best way to get rid of that envy is making it yourself!

    Anne - hope you like it. thank you!

    Srivalli - thanks i hope it will help. I am gathering all the infos I can!

    Raaga - you crack me up!

    Parita - may the mac force be with you!

    Manisha - they were not a DB challenge just a challenge a few of us set ourselves. don't like it when you are confused!

    Jamie - I know they are not very domed! but still nice for a first try! Hope you like the flavors!

  12. When the bow was opened, there was a sight to behold! They're beautiful. Just the stuff to *strut* for. ;-)
    Wait till you see some of mine sometime next week!

  13. They are beautiful! I love your photos and vibrant colours, your Blog is fabulous

  14. You know what? I had aged egg whites to make macarons for 2 days, and then i got cold feet and made something else. Yours look simply gorgeous, Meeta. Maybe someday...

  15. Fabulous pictures. Terrific recipe.

  16. Wow! they look amazing, love the pictures and the flavor combination!

  17. They look stunning Meeta, good job!
    and so brave of your to start with a pistachio blend ... mmmm yum

  18. Hi there Meeta, I saw these on foodgawker and just had to visit. (I also heard a bit of twittering). Fantastic feet! I am still very scared but may climb aboard the mac express now with all the helpful tips :)

  19. Hi Meeta, first time here. Macrons are sinful...just perfecto! very beautiful presentation. :)

  20. I am so thrilled that you have been successful with it. Outstanding! Me too - I like a challenge.

  21. My first attempt was a failure and have yet to try it again. Yours look perfect!

  22. Heh. They are simply gorgeous as you very well know ;) AND incredibly elegantly presented too! I have to make some pistachio ones for A., he's obsessed with pistachio ice-cream and baked goods, but I need to get some good Iranian pistachios. Yeay let's make more! but I'm going back to Italian meringue again.

  23. Your clicks are extremely beautiful. No words to describe the beauty.

  24. I knew what was hiding in the box, but I didn't know how fabulous they would be! Beautiful and such a great flavor combination! Great job! I'll look forward to more!

  25. Wow Meeta, your macs look amazing! I have been searching everywhere for white chocolate to make a limoncello ganache and now seeing your recipe I could have used cream cheese. Sigh....

    I will look for my white chocolate until Saturday when I gave myself the deadline to get my second set of macs completed. If it still is unavailable I'll snag ypur cream cheese idea!

  26. These look amazing. Your photographs are outstanding, as usual, and the macaroons look delectable. I've never tried making macaroons myself - the horror stories have scared me off as well!

  27. Hi Meeta,

    You have a lovely blog!! These macarons look sinfully delicious and that light green color..wow!! How I wish you were my neighbor :D.. Truly inspirational, I would love to make these sometime.


  28. Very well explained and in great details. I have bookmarked it to try it some day.
    It's a very inspiring post and great clicks.
    You rock Meeta.

  29. These are absolutely flawless, Meeta! So beautiful!

  30. Wow what a pic Meeta!
    Yippe! i guessed it close (cookie) :-)

  31. I think you did such a beautiful job!!! I loved reading about your trials with them and lessons, thanks so much for sharing!!

  32. what a beautiful blog, Meta :-) love your picture always..

  33. Meeta I have this page open from 6 in the morning & every now & then I am just looking at these beauties! They are just the prettiest. I love the flavors you have used & the color & your pictures are something I am not gonna forget.

    If i had them real in front of me, i could not eat them.. i think i would write a poem:-) Congrats for this fabulous success.

  34. Wow thanks for such an interesting and thorough post. Not to mention the gorgeous photos! I finally tried my first macaron (fresh from the Champ Elysees Laduree, no less!) in Paris this spring and LOVED IT! I'm still working up the courage to try my hand at making them.

  35. Oh Meeta, can see they got carried upstairs & photographed beautifully. Brilliant...and am thrilled to have finally found my feet too. I love yours & cant wait for better weather to try more. An egg white a day has become my new mantra!! Thanks for spurring me on to keep trying & for being part of this beautiful twitter challenge. Which one next???

  36. I love the brilliant lime green color! Absolutely gorgeous!

  37. oh thank you all for all these comments. you give me "feet" to try again!

    sunita - come on join us!

    hilda - my iranian pistachios will be here in two weeks!! so expect more pistachio desserts!

  38. Soma - a poem about my macarons! well that would be the utmost honor LOL!

    Deeba - i saw the feet - they are looking good. friends are supposed to be there every "feet" of the way you know. you will get them - hugs!

  39. Meeta, these are gorgeous. You should be strutting your stuff! After reading your explanations and instructions, these do seem intimidating! I would love to set aside a day, just for macarons. Until then, I would so much want to try one of yours!

  40. These are perfect and the photos are really stunning. You've given me inspiration to try making them.

  41. Hi Meeta,
    I've never ate or made macarrons. I have the ideia they are dificult to make. But when i see them around i feel curious and may be one day i will try.
    For me your macarrons are perfect and the photos fantastic as always.

  42. Gorgeous! I've had so much fun following you all chatter about your macarons every day. You all proved that ANYONE can make them and fabulously at that!

  43. I've never made macarons. They look perfect and the pictures are beautiful.

  44. Meeta they look perfect! I would say that is a roaring success! And the flavor combination sounds delicious too :)

  45. So these are the macarons i've been reading about in different status updates in fb... :) So pretty, I don't know if I've ever had the "real" macarons. I do love the American coconut-y version. :)

  46. The ones with the feet! :) Saw the convo on Twitter.

    Looks lovely.


  47. The only thing more I love than actually making macarons myself, is talking about them with people as interested as me. I hope you have another twitter conversation - I would love to join in! Just made 124 shells last night for my wedding favours. I'm so obsessed about macarons I must make them for my wedding. Though I'm so impressed by your macarons. And the flavour combination sounds divine! They've come out fabulously. Well done. You certainly should be proud. I took forever to try and get the hang of them!

  48. Hi meeta , first time @ this gorgeous macrons..Looks yumm :)

  49. What an absolutely fantastic job on your first macarons!! You did a whole lot better then my first attempt! Having now read your post I will have to go and make them again at some point during this week... Can't wait to get started!

  50. PERFECT!!Need i say more!

  51. now those are lovely looking! Next time around, I want to make mine a little bigger (like yours)...probably wouldn't have dried out as much. Beautiful photos, too.

  52. These are incredibly beautiful! I can see that I not only need to work on my macarons, but also my photography! Just want to reach through the screen and grab one! Thanks for visiting mine and for your sweet comment. :-)

  53. These..look...gorgeous! Great job on the macs Meeta. Oh, I wish I made this video sooner, but I finally did make the video on making macarons with special emphasis on macaronage.


  54. Congratulations on conquering macarons! And how! Love the flavor combination. I hope to be able to make some soon :)

  55. Your macarons are beautiful and perfects !! bravo

  56. Pistachio and lemon, it must be a delight!!!

  57. This looks fantastic! i'm prepping to make my first real batch of macarons, and hopped over to your space from Nisha's. Love your space and love your macs! :)

  58. Can I make this without cream cheese?

  59. I read and re-read your recipe, and I love the way you explain the "whys and whats" of each step in preparing this yummy "dreamy macaroon"..
    I am fanatic about eating them, but have never baked them. My favorite macaroon still is at Bouchon Bakery in the Venetian Hotel in Vegas.
    As I visualize your recipe, I wonder if Elevation and Atmospheric Pressure will affect the baking compared to where you bake your recipe.
    I would just love to read someone describing baking anything in such an amazing way as you did!
    I'm in Utah, USA at about 5000 feet high.
    I will report here when I make your recipe!
    Thanks very much


Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

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