Dark Chocolate Pistachio Macaroonsby Tori Avey April 3, 2017
There is something so special about pistachios. Growing up, I always felt like they were the “fancy nut.” Turns out I was on to something; some consider them the most “royal” of all nuts. They were first cultivated 3,000 years ago in ancient Persia, where they flourished in the arid and semi-arid high desert climate. They were once considered a food for the wealthy. According to an oft-repeated legend, the Queen of Sheba is said to have confiscated all deliveries of fine pistachios so that she could keep them for herself and her royal court. There’s also an old adage that tells of lovers meeting beneath pistachio trees in the moonlight. If they were fortunate enough to hear the nuts cracking, they considered it a sign of future happiness. I particularly love the significance of pistachios in many Iranian homes, where a cup is always ready to share with family and friends.
In addition to their royal history, pistachios have a distinctive green color and utterly unique flavor that makes them a wonderful addition to many delectable treats. Macaroons, those ubiquitous haystacks of Passover sweetness, seemed like a perfect vehicle to showcase the pistachio in all of its glory.
Macaroons originated in Italy in the 1700s, where they were first made with almond paste. Italian Jews began making their own versions of the treat that same century. Jews appreciated that these chewy cookies contained no grains or leavening, and thus could be enjoyed during the Passover holiday. In many Mediterranean Sephardic Jewish communities, macaroons are still made with almonds like they originally were in Italy. But there is no law that says we can’t use pistachios! American macaroons are most often made with coconut, which provides a nice, chewy base. After experimenting a bit, I found the rich combination of pistachio and coconut to be utterly irresistible. I added rosewater to the mix, inspired by the classic Persian pistachio/rosewater flavor combination. Then (because why stop now?) I dipped them in dark chocolate and sprinkled them with sea salt flakes. Whoa. Be still my heart!
You may want to skin the pistachio nut meats before you begin with this recipe. Technically you don’t have to skin them, but your macaroons will be a bit less light/fluffy and the color will be a less bright shade of green. Skinning takes some time, but for a special occasion like Passover it is well worth the effort. If you plan a bit in advance, you can skin the nuts a day prior—I recommend watching Netflix while you work. A little extra effort goes a long way here. These macaroons are truly special. Enjoy!
1 ½ cups shredded unsweetened
1 ½ cups unroasted, unsalted shelled pistachios
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tbsp potato starch – if not for Passover, you can substitute corn starch
1 ½ tsp rosewater – or substitute
1 egg white
Pinch of of salt
9 oz dark chocolate (use a dairy free chocolate to keep it pareve)
Sea salt flakes for garnish
You will also need:
Food processor, parchment paper or nonstick silicone baking mat
Yield: 26-28 macaroons
Total Time: 45 minutes
Kosher Key: Pareve
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. In this recipe, you can use either grated fresh coconut or dried coconut flakes. If using dried coconut, rehydrate it by pouring it into a bowl and covering it with warm water. Let the coconut soak for 5 minutes, then drain. Squeeze all the excess liquid out firmly with your fingers. Proceed with recipe. If using fresh coconut, no need to prep it simply proceed with recipe.
You can use the pistachios as-is, or skin them using the method on my website, ToriAvey.com. Skinning the pistachios will result in a prettier macaroon that is brighter green in color. Place pistachios into a food processor. Process for a few seconds until the mixture becomes a mixture of fine crumbles. Don’t over-process and let it turn into a paste, it should resemble crumbs.
Beat the egg and egg white together in a small bowl. Stir the processed pistachio crumb mixture into the rehydrated coconut along with the sugar, potato starch, rosewater or vanilla, beaten egg and egg white, and salt. Stir with a fork well to combine, making sure all ingredients are evenly dispersed.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Place rounded tablespoonfuls of the coconut mixture onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced, forming the mounds into rounded haystack-like shapes. They will feel very loose and delicate at first, but will firm up as they bake.
Place the macaroons in the oven and let them bake for 30 minutes, until the bases of the haystacks turn light golden brown. Don’t overbake or the macaroons will become dry. Remove the macaroons from the oven. Allow the macaroons to cool directly on the baking sheet. Do not try to remove them before they’ll cool; when hot, they are delicate, but they become firmer as they cool.
Melt 9 oz dark chocolate, either in the microwave or in a double boiler. If using the microwave, heat at 50 percent power for 1 minute, stir, then continue to melt in 15 second bursts at 50 percent power until the chocolate becomes smooth. Grasp each macaroon at the top and dip the top into the melted chocolate, twisting it into the chocolate and coating it about ¼ inch up the sides. Place back on the baking sheet. While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle a few sea salt flakes on top of each macaroon. Allow chocolate to dry completely.
I like to store these macaroons in the refrigerator for best shelf life. If kept in a sealed container too long the internal moisture from the macaroons will “melt” the sea salt, so if you’re planning on keeping them sealed for a longer period of time, you may wish to skip the sea salt entirely.