This crackly gooey macaron cake goes out to a few people today…
It’s for all the gluten-free readers who have patiently sat through parades of apple cakes and cinnamon donut cakes and asked so politely — always so politely — if we might offer up a confection that makes delicious use of the nut flours and GF flours that are now so readily available on everyday supermarket shelves. It’s for Thanksgiving hosts who are looking for a gluten-free, pie-adjacent treat to hold its own in the dessert spread…
It’s for readers who need a project or some comfort today or any day. It’s for anyone who appreciates a macaron — how its crackly exterior gives way to a tender delicate interior — and isn’t that most everyone?
The cake is from Extra Good Things, by Noor Murad and the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen team, a book dedicated to the idea that creative pantry diving and surprising finishing touches are what take a dish from good to great. This recipe, inspired by Noor’s mother, includes optional elderflower apricots, instructions for which you can find in the book. In Noor’s headnote, she suggests adding a splash of amaretto to the cream “to make it more grown-up.”
Pistachio Macaron Cake
Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook time: 55 minutes.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for greasing
1 1/4 cups slivered pistachios
2/3 cup almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup heavy cream, fridge cold
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 teaspoons extra for dusting
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 10-inch round tart pan and line with a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the bottom and sides with a little bit of overhang (don’t worry if it’s not perfect). Use any extra butter to grease the top of the parchment paper as well.
Put the slivered pistachios into a food processor and blitz until you have fine crumbs, roughly the size of couscous or bulgur wheat. It won’t be as smooth as the almond meal. Put this, the almond meal, and salt into a large bowl and mix well to combine.
Put the egg, yolk, granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons of the vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 3-3 1/2 minutes, until well aerated and light in color. This will help develop the crackly crust you want. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the lemon zest and pistachio mixture until just incorporated — don’t overmix it. Pour it into the prepared tart pan and sprinkle evenly with the sliced almonds. Place on a flat baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted through the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool completely in the pan.
When ready to serve, make the cream by putting it into the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, along with the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla (alternatively, do this a bowl with a whisk and use your arm muscles!). Beat for 60-90 seconds, or until you have soft peaks. Transfer to a small serving bowl.
Use the lining paper to lift the cake from its pan and place on a wooden board, with the paper attached. Pull away at the paper to expose the sides. (Note from Jenny: You can also remove the paper and transfer it to a platter, as long as you do it carefully.) Don’t worry if the cake cracks a little; this just adds to its charm. Dust the surface with the extra confectioners’ sugar and serve with the cream.
P.S. Easy same-day peasant bread and Joanna and her kids’ favorite cake.
(Photo of cake with apricots by Elena Heatherwick.)