Colouring and Pistachio Macarons

When I found myself preparing photos for Mad About Macarons within a short deadline, I wanted something a bit different for a pistachio macaron shot. Tossing in my sleep one hot night I hit on an idea: ice cream? I rushed first thing next morning to our local Gelateria Amareno in St Germain-en-Laye, asked the owner if I could borrow an ice cream cone stand and ran off with it – leaving him with a cheque just to prove I’d return it. He thought I was NUTS. Little did he know I was almond and pistachio nuts and definitely mad about them in macaron form.

Pistachio and pistachio-white chocolate-wasabi macarons from the book

As many friends, family and colleagues would tell me they couldn’t even attempt to make macarons as they were difficult, I was on a mission to help combat their macaron stumbling block. The aim of the book is therefore aimed at beginners afraid to make that first move.

What’s more, they end up getting perfect macarons with simple instructions – just read the book reviews of Mad About Macarons!

For the pistachio recipe, the pistachios are all in the filling: the ganache or cream rests in the shells for at least 24 hours before eating them so that it permeates into the shell, making the whole macaron take on the flavours and take on a wonderful fondant finish inside.

pistachio and chocolate macarons piled on top of one another

a mix of both plain pistachio macarons and pistachio with chocolate

Macaron Tip: Almonds are the least oily of nuts and easier to work with for making macarons. As pistachios – like other nuts – can be oily, I would recommend if you’re going to use ground (unsalted) pistachios in the shells, to substitute a third of the ground almonds for pistachios (or other nuts.)

Pistachio Colouring in Macarons

It never ceases to amaze me in pâtisseries in Paris just how different pistachio macaron colourings can vary. Call me a snob, but I prefer to have pistachio macarons the colour of ground pistachios. Gerard Mulot in Paris, for example, does fabulous pistachio macarons in flavour but just look at the colour…

Here, Café Pouchkine and Acide Macaron have a pistachio macaron with orange flower water. Both delicious perfection and different colouring ideas.

Acide and Pouchkine’s pistachio macarons

Not completely pistachio, but if you’ve tried Hermé’s Mosaïc macaron, you get the pistachio in between cinnamon shells and with a black cherry that winks at you. Great for cinnamon lovers, since it stands out plus the pistachio colour is pistachio.

So what colouring do I use? I prefer powdered colourings, as a tiny amount is needed in comparison to liquid colourings, which can affect the meringue if you add too much liquid. For pistachio, use a good pinch of green colouring with a tiny pinch of brown or caramel to soften the green. (I say a pinch, as so little is needed. You’ll see for yourself: if you use a teaspoon or even half, it’s too much.) 3 parts green to 1 part brown or caramel colouring.

Previously, I ordered powdered colourings at and at MORA in rue Montmartre in Paris – until I discovered Déco Relief just across the road from Mora. The staff are delightful and eager to please, which in my book deserves customers. So, my friends, I recommend you pop in to see Djamel at Déco Relief, 6 rue Montmartre, and tell him I sent you. His colleague is a great fan of Glasgow in Scotland! Yes, like the Scots, they are chatty.

As Antoine isn’t a fan of cinnamon, he asked just for plain pistachio macarons the other day. Nothing fancy but they were delicious.

Best Macarons in Paris

From the kitchen

30 responses to “Colouring and Pistachio Macarons”

  1. Mad about Macarons! Le Teatime Blog in Paris | Teatime in Paris: Luxury Italian Ice Cream by Il Gelato Del Marchese says:

    […] if anyone knows how I shy away from anything that says pistachio without the right natural colour (see my previous blog article), you’ll understand how this is such an important factor […]

  2. Easy pistachio panna cotta recipe with macarons | Mad about Macarons! Make Macarons like the French - le blog in Paris says:

    […] cake, or pistachio and chocolate-pistachio macarons.  It’s not just the flavour but the pistachio colour has to be just right. It didn’t take long before I made a few panna cottas for a Sunday […]

  3. A Sexy Valentine Dessert Recipe with Parisian Macarons | Mad about Macarons! Make Macarons like the French - le blog in Paris says:

    […] Book (my pride and joy prize for winning a local  Pâtisserie competition a few years ago with my pistachio and wasabi macarons). It’s a French answer to the Italian panna cotta (see this rose, cherry and cardamom panna […]

  4. […] powdered food coloring.  I read about this store from Jill at Mad About Macarons.  One of her posts mention where she purchases her powdered food coloring in Paris.  I just about thought I was in […]

  5. Hi Jill! I’m with the natural color than weird pistachio color for sure. And how awesome that you are trying to convince beginners (like me!) to make macarons. Oh yes, I’d love to make it, but I always wonder if I need to take prerequisite baking lessons before even jump onto making macarons. People think I’m crazy? I haven’t made even a cupcake. xD Hehehe.

    • Och, Nami. The amount of wizardry that you create in your kitchen, you’ll be able to make macarons. You don’t need baking lessons in advance. Methinks it’s all in your head. I don’t make cupcakes either, if that helps. 🙂

  6. The colour makes the macaron…
    And your macs are perfection!

  7. Beautiful and I love the color of the macs in the last photo – those are yours? And the top pics are great! Of all the others I would love to try Pierre Hermé’s! Cinnamon, pistachio and cherry wow!!!! Great combo. And those ultra green from Gerard Mulot? Too scary and fake for me.

    • Yes, I’m guilty – first and last pistachios are mine. Let’s make a deal: why don’t we have the Mosaïc PH macaron tasting next time you’re in Paris, Jamie? Hint, hint…

  8. You are so creative with your photos…that mac on the ice cream cone is just adorable! And I agree…that day-glo green is a bit obnoxious…doesn’t say pistachio at all. Hope you had a wonderful holiday! Raining again????

    PS…Our fabulous dinner in Normandy was at the chateau in which we stayed…near Piccauville…Isle St. Marie.

    • Thanks, Liz. We need to return to Normandy and try this place. We did have a wonderful holiday, even if it was raining – although on return to Paris, the sun is out in all its glory and it looks like Summer is finally saying bonjour!

  9. Beautiful pistachio green macs and I love that ice cream cone photo!

  10. Beautiful shots Jill!!! I’ve not tasted pistachio, but I have a feeling it would quickly become a favorite. We are just back from two weeks in Europe, sailing the Adriatic, and Liv picked out macarons all over Venice. They were my first try of macarons that someone else prepared, and I think I have to say I didn’t do a bad job on my own!! Also just read the book “The Color of Tea”, a story featuring macarons and thought of you.
    Happy Summer!

    • Sounds like a great book and a wonderful holiday too – esp if macarons were around, lol. You need to try pistachio!

  11. Using natural ways to color is the best! I don’t believe in using artificial! Great post, Jill!

  12. I agree with the coloring being like the ingredient. Brilliant green might taste good but it hurts my eyes. 🙂

  13. I like the color of your pistachio macarons best Jill! Afterall, they are the true pistachio color! I bet they taste even better than they look too! I wish I could try them :)!

  14. Such vivid color! The second photograph with the green-green and red-red macs reminds me of my habanero plants…the chilies start out green and ripen to a robust red. I came over from Facebook and I have one question for you Jill as it’s not clear to me: Did you try a McMacaron from McDonald’s?

    • Thanks Brooks,
      I did indeed have a few macarons from McCafe of McDonalds yesterday, after posting this so put it on Facebook. The new mango wasn’t great (gelatinous) and raspberry ok but their pistachio was great – including the colour!

  15. I finally made the pistachio macarons several weeks ago. They turned out great and got rave revues. I had a hard time finding unsalted pistachios locally but two grocery stores finally sell them. I have made several of the recipes from the book and have had success with all of them. The pistachio macaron recipe is wonderful!

  16. My favorite macaron flavor and I agree that the natural hue is best. Collecting all your tips for the day I finally try to make my own. 🙂

  17. Since I’m addicted to pistachio ice cream at Gelateria Amorino I have to correct you ahem (No E! in Amorino) but very interesting topic – this coloring thing.
    I have seen macarons that were ‘naturally’ colored = beige basically.
    I always wonder what’s in these magic colorants. And certainly why some patissiers choose to use such intense colors can be perplexing. Yours look perfect!
    merci carolg

    • Thanks, Carol. My French is luckily better than my Italian, lol.

  18. Your macs look scrumptious, as usual!
    And for all other readers, I concur with Jill, Djamel and his wee Glasgow-loving helper at Déco Relief are really really nice and “très commerçant”!
    Just one little technical question… do you make your own pistachio paste (and if so, how) and if not, where would one look to find some in sunny Glasgow please? 🙂
    Merci d’avance!

    • Hi Jérôme,
      It’s not easy to find pistachio paste in Glasgow (checked with the Editor who lives there) but some UK online possibilities are below.
      When I’ve been in a rush and had no paste, I’ve simply ground an extra 50g of shelled/blanched/unsalted pistachios, added 2-3 drops of almond extract and continued with the recipe. My source of pistachios from my local store are oily enough that on grinding them finely they turn into a natural looking paste. If your pistachios are drier, then add 1tsp glucose syrup.
      Melbury & Appleton;

  19. I think your pistachio macs are the loveliest color. The screaming green ones are fun but no matter how loud they are, they don’t convey pistachio.