Sunday, 1 July 2007

Pistachio Macaroons

These are the world's most elegant macaroons - Nigella Lawson

Maybe they are in your world, Nigella. Not in mine. As hinted in RoseRed's last post, some discussion on the issue of macaroons took place before I cooked these. I know she'd had, shall we say, issues with her chocolate macaroons. I told her I was making mine for a special morning tea so it was important they worked out. I can't say I wasn't warned.

The morning tea was scheduled for Sunday morning. The following is a faithful account of my Saturday afternoon Macaroon Experience. Take note of the following photo. It demonstrates how the fiasco macaroons were supposed to look. Pretty good looking, huh? It's safe to say I was entranced by them.

The Verdict
Unusual or substituted ingredients - I took Rose Red's advice on this. She shared with me a tale of woe that involved her once shelling bucketloads of pistachios and ending up with blisters to show for it. I bought them already shelled. You grind them up with icing sugar to make a dust, as Nigella says. Then you mix them with the eggwhites. Sounds good so far, doesn't it?

The thing is, meringue-style things are not my forte. I've kept a wide berth between me and them before now. So I did approach these with some anxiety.

Special Utensils or cookware - None. But I do think I could do with some lessons in meringue making. I'm sure I've read that you should whip eggwhites in a metal bowl. Anyone know if this is true?

I should add that Nigella says to pipe the mixture onto the tray. Like RoseRed, I found it wasn't really necessary to pipe, although I did cut a hole in a zip lock bag because I have studiously avoided needing to pipe for most of my life and have, I must say, been quite happy without the experience.

Sauciness - I was ready to kill someone by the end of the afternoon. So no, not a lot of sauciness in these. Why was I ready to kill someone because of fancy biscuits? Look at this.

I had two sheets of these things, one on baking paper, one on a silicone sheet. Both stuck to buggery. They crumbled and broke and shattered. What a waste of $10 worth of pistachios!

Not one of these macaroons came away from the sheet in one piece. Not ONE!

Repeatability - You know what? I may actually try making them again one day. I love pistachios. I love meringue. If I can get these right, they'll be a dream come true for me. But not yet. I'm not ready. I was so bummed by these. I ended up making snickerdoodles on Sunday morning at the crack of dawn, just so I had something to take.

Overall Pleasure Level - It would be a lie to say I hate these entirely. We ended up crumbling them over chocolate mousse that night and they were fantastic shards of sweet, light, nutty goodness. Can't complain about that.

So, I will rate them as a failure, because they were, even if they did taste good. Tasting good is not enough. I want ones like the pretty picture.

Honestly, I think both RoseRed and i probably went wrong in the whipping phase. According to some comments we got on the chocolate macaroons, I think we didn't let the mixture dry out out enough - but Nigella gives clear instructions not to let it dry out when whipping (ie to not overwhip). I will try again one day and whip them like there's no tomorrow.