Dark Chocolate Pistachio Macaroons with Rosewater and Sea Salt Flakes – Delicious Gluten Free Treat for Passover or Anytime of Year
There is something so special about pistachios. Growing up, I always felt like they were the “fancy nut.” Maybe it’s their distinctive green color or their utterly unique flavor that made me covet pistachios. With their royal history and their hefty price tag, it’s no wonder I sensed that pistachios were special. Little did I know just how many delectable treats can be made with these sweet green nuts. Macaroons, those ubiquitous haystacks of Passover sweetness, seem 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 recipe during that same century. Jews appreciated that the chewy cookies contained no grains or leavening, and thus could be enjoyed during Passover. In Mediterranean Sephardic Jewish communities, macaroons are usually made with almonds, like they originally were in Italy. But there is no law that says we can’t use pistachios! American macaroons are more 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!
Skinning the pistachios takes some time, but for a special occasion like Passover these are well worth the effort. Technically you don’t have to skin them, but your macaroons will be a bit less light/fluffy and the color won’t be as bright a green. If you plan a bit in advance, you can skin the nuts a day prior while binging Netflix. A little extra effort goes a long way here. These macaroons are worth the time, they are truly special. Enjoy!
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Beauty shots and styling by Bethany Nauert.
- 1 1/2 cups shredded coconut flakes, plain, unsweetened
- 1 1/2 cups skinned pistachio nuts (details below)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp potato starch (if not for Passover, you can substitute corn starch)
- 1 1/2 tsp rosewater (or substitute vanilla extract)
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
- Pinch salt
- 9 oz dark chocolate (use a dairy free chocolate to keep it pareve)
- Sea salt flakes for garnish (optional)
- 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.
- Skinning the pistachio nuts will result in a brighter green color and a prettier end result, but if you are short on time it is not required. You can learn how to skin them by searching my blog for "how to skin pistachios." Place skinned 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% power for 1 minute, stir, then continue to melt in 15 second bursts at 50% 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 1/4 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.