I created this variation on my standard almond macaron for a Moroccan themed dinner. If you use really vibrant pistachios, there is no need for any food coloring. However, a small drop of green gel food coloring will help if your pistachios are a bit more on the brown side. Note: the rose buttercream will make enough for several batches of macarons. Freeze for a future batch, or use to decorate vanilla cupcakes. Finally, I decorated the tops after piping with Iranian dried rose buds, a gift from a friend who brought them back from Paris. They can sometimes be found in middle eastern food shops or online. —merec
Test Kitchen Notes
These lovely, dainty macarons would be great for an afternoon tea. The recipe works very well and the directions are thorough and clear. I ended up with mostly nice, smooth macarons. I did lose a few to cracking and few didn't get nice feet -- aging the egg whites might help. But they were generally great macarons: crunchy on the outside, chewy inside. The buttercream is nice and fluffy and not too sweet. If you are going to do a meringue buttercream, you can't beat a Swiss meringue for ease. You only need a little bit of the filling to get a nice, creamy treat in the center of the macaron. I love the combo of pistachio and rose water -- there is something very girly and wonderful about it. The flavor is very subtle: next time I would love to try 2/3 cup pistachio and 1/3 cup almond. Note: I used 3 teaspoons of rose water. - Stephanie —The Editors
Sift together powdered sugar, ground almonds and ground pistachios into a large bowl. Set aside. If you have a lot of nuts that are too coarse to sift, regrind them. If it is just a bit (less than a tablespoon), you can discard.
Place egg whites in bowl of electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, start to whip on medium speed. Continue whipping until uniform, small bubbles appear throughout whites. They should look a bit white and start to build volume.
When whites are thick and have gained some volume, start to sprinkle in the granulated sugar, a few tablespoons at a time on medium high speed. Once all sugar has been added, turn to highest speed and mix for a minute or so longer. Should look like really thick meringue.
Using a rubber spatula, scoop meringue onto the powdered sugar, nut mixture. Fold in rather vigorously. If using any food coloring, add that now. Continue to fold/stir mixture until you can drag the spatula through the mix and a few moments later not see the trail. The mixture needs to be liquid enough to spread into an even circle when piped, but not so liquid that it seeps into a sad puddle of batter.
Scrape the batter into a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip (or just cut a 1/4 inch hole in the bottom of the piping bag). Note: the tip will give the most even round shape.
On a sheet tray lined with a silpat mat (or parchment if you don't have a silpat, but the silpat really works best), pipe the batter into disks roughly the size of a quarter, spaced a 1/2 inch apart.
Set the piped meringues aside for AT LEAST 30 minutes (an hour is better). They need to dry out completely on the surface to get the most lift while baking and develop the proper macaron "foot". Touch the surface of one to make sure it is dry and "shell" like.
Bake the dried macaroons for 9-12 minutes at 350 degrees, rotating the tray halfway through. The baked macarons should be crisp on the outside, still soft on the inside and easily come off of the silpat mat when cool.
After the cookies are cooled, pipe or spread a small amount of rose buttercream on the bottom side of one macaron and sandwich with a second macaron.
The finished macarons should be kept at room temperature and are best eaten within a day or two, or they freeze really well.
Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl of standing mixer.
Place bowl over pot of simmering water and whisk until thick and hot to the touch.
Put bowl back on machine and whip using whisk attachment until cool, thick and "meringue" like.
Add the softened butter a little bit at a time. If the mixture starts to look curdled, just keep mixing, it will come back together.
Add rose water to taste and pink food coloring, if using. The rose flavor should be detectable, but subtle. Too much will make the cookies taste too perfumey.