Pistachio and Cherry Macaron Cake
It’s almost cherry season! What I love so much about cherries is that they go great with macarons. So I did a bit of research and finally came by an interesting recipe for a macaron cake in “Le Grand Manuel du Pâtissier”.
I tried the recipe. It was nice, but not too thrilling. So I made some changes, and a few more, until I got to this recipe, which I’m keeping forever.
The cake consists of a light cherry mousse in the center with a pistachio cream surrounding it, decorated with cherries all around and sandwiched by two macaron shells made from pistachios instead of the usual almonds.
Indeed, it sounds like heaven, but I must admit that this cake requires a lot of investment, and unfortunately, it doesn’t last very long. It’s ready to be consumed two hours after sitting in the fridge. However, it’s even more delicious after a night in the fridge. It keeps a little longer than that, but not too long. It stays tasty, but the macaron shells start to absorb moisture with time and eventually they get soaked, until all is left is a sad puddle of sweetness.
A little note: The cherry mousse is supposed to come out creamier, full of pieces of cherries, and with a stronger color of pink than what it looks in the picture. (I changed the recipe again after taking these pictures)
120 g shelled pistachios
80 g almond flour
200 g powdered sugar
75 g egg whites (for the meringue)
75 g egg whites (for the macaronage)
200 g sugar
75 g water
8 g gelatin in powder
40 g water
Pistachio paste (can be store bought)
60 g shelled pistachios
10 g grapeseed oil
Pistachio diplomat cream
250 g milk
60 g egg yolk
60 g sugar
20 g corn starch
30 g pistachio paste
24 g gelatin mass
25 g butter (cut into cubes)
100 g heavy cream
Cherry puree (can be store bought)
100 g pitted cherries
100 g water
75 g egg whites
110 g sugar
30 g water
65 g Italian meringue
125 g cherry puree
5 g corn starch
20 g gelatin mass
100 g heavy cream
250 g cherries
10 g crushed pistachios
A round ring with a 22 cm diameter (at least 2.5 cm high)
A round ring with a 15 cm diameter (at least 2.5 cm high)
Aging egg whites: A few days ahead of time, separate the whites from the yolks (easier when the eggs are cold), set aside the whites in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Take a toothpick and punch a few holes in the plastic wrap, then put the bowl in the fridge.
In this process, some of the liquid from the egg whites evaporate, which makes for a nicer and smoother macaron shell. One day in advance is usually enough for me, especially since I just forget about it and remember it the day before. Also, I recommend weighing a little more egg whites than the amount in the recipe, because the weight drops slightly after evaporation.
The day you bake the macarons, take out the egg whites from the fridge and wait for them to reach room temperature before whipping them.
Gelatin mass: Sprinkle gelatin powder over the water, mix well and keep in the fridge for at least half an hour. Cut into small pieces before use.
Pistachio diplomat cream
Pistachio Paste: Preheat the oven to 160 °C (320 ºF). Scatter the pistachios on a baking tray and roast for about 7 minutes until they brown a bit. After the pistachios have cooled, grind them to a powder in a small food processor. Add the oil and grind again until it becomes a paste. Weigh the amount needed and store in the fridge until use.
Put milk a saucepan and start warming on medium heat. Add about a third of the sugar to the milk. Add the rest of the sugar to the egg yolks and whisk immediately. Add corn starch and whisk again. Once the milk starts to boil, remove from heat and pour into the yolk-sugar mix while whisking all along. Pour the mixture through a sieve back to the saucepan (to get rid of egg chunks that may have hardened while adding the hot milk). Heat on medium heat and whisk constantly until it starts to boil. The mixture will thicken and become creamy. Remove from heat when the cream begins to bubble.
Transfer creamy mixture to a clean bowl, add pistachio paste and whisk together. Add pieces of gelatin mass and whisk again. Add the butter cubes and mix until uniform. Lay plastic wrap on top of the cream to keep a crust from forming while it cools to 40 ºC (104 ºF) or below.
In the meantime, line a flat tray with baking paper. Place the larger ring on the sheet and the smaller ring at its center.
Whisk the cold heavy cream to soft peaks (beware not to over whip, the goal is to get a texture that resembles that of a yogurt). Transfer a fourth of the whipped cream to the pistachio cream and mix well with a spatula. Fold the rest of the whipped cream with the pistachio cream.
Transfer 50 g of the combined cream to a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge.
Fill a pastry bag with the rest of the cream and cut a small opening at the end, 15 mm wide. Pipe the cream in the area between the two rings. Flatten the surface of the cream with a frosting spatula. Keep in the freezer for at least 4 hours.
Grind pistachios, almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor for a minute or two. Sift the mix in a sieve once, or better, twice (The macaron shell will come out smoother that way, promise!). If there are any chunks that remain from the sifting, grind and sift them again. Set aside the bowl.
Italian Merengue: Put water and then sugar in a saucepan. Place on medium/high heat. Stir the sugar with a spatula to dissolve it. Once the water starts to boil, stop stirring and remove the spatula. Let the syrup boil and check with a thermometer that the temperature does not exceed 115°C (240°F). While it’s boiling, whisk 75g egg whites in a mixer on medium speed. When the syrup reaches 105°C (220°F), increase the speed of the mixer so the egg whites get to soft peaks (white foam consistency). As soon as the syrup reaches 115°C (240°F), turn off the stove, reduce the mixer speed to medium, and slowly pour the syrup into the mixer. Increase the mixer speed to high and continue to whisk for about 10 minutes, until the meringue cools. Add the other 75g egg whites to the flour mixture and mix well with a spatula.
Macaronage: This is just a mix of the meringue with almond cream. This step is critical. Take a third of the meringue, add to the cream and mix with a spatula to loosen up the density of the cream. Gently fold in the rest of the meringue until you get a shiny, dense texture similar to lava or raw tahini. (Here’s how you know it’s ready: take a spoonful of the batter and throw it back into the bowl in rows. After 10-15 seconds, the rows should sink into the mix but not flatten completely.) Make sure not to fold the batter too much, so it doesn’t get watery, which would make flat shells without the much desired “feet”. But also make sure not to fold too little, because then the macaron batter won’t flatten at all when you pipe, and it could rise and crack while baking. If you’re not sure, you can pipe a few test macarons, wait a minute and see if it stabilizes (like in the pictures here).
Fit a pastry bag with an 8 mm smooth tip and fill it with the batter. Prepare 2 baking sheets with straight, unfolded baking paper on top. Pipe a tiny bit of the batter on each corner of the baking sheet and “glue” the baking paper on top. Pipe a spiral, 25 cm wide, on each baking sheet (I advise to use a sketch of a circle under the baking paper). Tap the bottom of the baking sheet. If bubbles remain on the macaron shells, you can pop them gently with a toothpick. Sprinkle crushed pistachios on one of the macaron shells.
Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Leave the tray out in the kitchen for about 30 minutes (depending on the room temperature) until the shells develop a crust and is not sticky when you touch it with your fingertip.
Put the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. For uniform baking, flip the tray after about 7-8 minutes. Baking time depends on your oven. Bake a couple test macaron shells before you bake the rest of the batter. When you get the tray out of the oven, immediately separate the baking paper with the macaron shells from the tray and place it on a cool surface (this makes it easier to remove the shells from the paper/mat). Allow the shells to cool before removing the baking paper (which is done by flipping the macaron shell and gently peeling the baking paper off).
Cherry puree: Put the pitted cherries in a bowl and add water. Bring to a boil and let it boil gently over medium heat for 5 minutes, while stirring occasionally. Mash some cherries with the spatula while stirring. Cool for about 5-10 minutes and then grind with a hand blender for a smoother texture. Weigh the amount needed and store in the fridge until use.
Italian Merengue: Put water and then sugar in a saucepan. Place on medium/high heat. Stir the sugar with a spatula to dissolve it. Once the water starts to boil, stop stirring and remove the spatula. Let the syrup boil and check with a thermometer that the temperature does not exceed 115°C (240°F). While it’s boiling, whisk the egg whites in a mixer on medium speed. When the syrup reaches 105°C (220°F), increase the speed of the mixer so the egg whites get to soft peaks (white foam consistency). As soon as the syrup reaches 115°C (240°F), turn off the stove, reduce the mixer speed to medium, and slowly pour the syrup into the mixer. Increase the mixer speed to high and continue to whisk for about 5 minutes, until the meringue cools. Weigh the amount needed and keep aside.
Take a tablespoon from the cherry puree and mix it with corn starch. Return the mixture back to the puree. Heat the puree while stirring with a whisk until it thickens and simmers. Transfer to a bowl, add the gelatin mass and stir until dissolved. Let cool to 40 °C (105°F).
In the meantime, whisk the cold heavy cream to soft peaks (beware not to over whip, the goal is to get a texture that resembles that of a yogurt). Keep in the fridge.
Transfer a fourth of the puree to the meringue and whisk until uniform. Return the mixture back to the puree and fold with a spatula. Remove the whipped cream from the fridge, whisk it a little bit and then fold it into the puree.
Remove the tray holding the rings from the freezer. Release the rings by rubbing your hands around them until they loosen and slide out. Pour the cherry mousse in the center up to the level of the frozen pistachio cream. Flatten the surface with a frosting spatula. Keep in the freezer for at least another hour.
Putting it all together!
Remove the pits from all the cherries. In order to keep the cherry almost whole while removing the pit, you must use a cherry pitter.
Flip one of the macaron shells carefully and place on a serving plate. Set the frozen cream layer on top.
Remove the pistachio cream (50g) from the fridge and mix it a little. Fill a pastry bag with the pistachio cream and cut a small opening at the end. Pipe a rope of cream over the macaron shell around the frozen cream layer.
Place the pitted cherries around the cream layer. Make sure the hole of the cherry is facing the cherries next to it. If the hole is facing towards the macaron shell it might soak it too quickly.
Finally, set the second macaron shell on the frozen cream layer. Keep in the fridge for at least two hours before serving. The cake is at its best after a night in the fridge.
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