Pistachio ConfectionsA World of Tiny Treats
Who doesn’t appreciate an elegant box of candy or a plate of dainty mignardises at the end of a meal? Kids may vote for quantity over quality in candy, but most adults prefer their sweets in small bites. Pistachios shine in this world of confections, the tiny treats that make a restaurant’s coffee service memorable or that add a grace note when the check is presented.
“Pistachios are delicious and pretty,” says Stephen Durfee, pastry chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. “They add diversity and a layer of luxury compared to other nuts.”
Chef Durfee uses pistachios frequently in confections and chocolates. In those applications, he considers the nuts interchangeable with almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts. “If a confectionery recipe works for one type, I assume that I can use another,” says the chef. “It opens up all kinds of versatility.”
The novelty of pistachios can make a familiar pastry or confection more exciting. Try pistachios instead of almonds in frangipane, or make pistachio baklava. Durfee sometimes fills chocolates with pistachio marzipan or Pistachio Chocolate Candy Filling. You can riff on gianduja—the Italian hazelnut and chocolate spread—with pistachio paste; use as a confectionery center, enrobed in dark or white chocolate.
For more pistachio inspiration, look to confections from around the globe. Bone-white torrone (aka nougat) relies on pistachios for eye appeal. Turkish delight, that chewy confection, almost always includes pistachios and a hint of rose water. Pistachio halva is a sumptuous Middle Eastern treat; what an impression it would make with mint tea. An All-American nut brittle made with pistachios could dress up a scoop of ice cream.
Choose your format
Use whole or coarsely chopped pistachios for crunch—in chocolate bark, for example. Finely chopped pistachios can garnish chocolate candies and truffles.
Use pistachio paste for marzipan, gianduja, and confectionery centers.
Use pistachio butter instead of paste when you want to control the sweetness.
The following flavors are among the most compatible with pistachios:
- Chocolate (dark, milk or white)
- Citrus: orange, blood orange, lemon, Meyer lemon
- Candied orange
- Orange blossom water and rose water
- Wildflower or orange blossom honey
- Dried fruits: dates, apricots, raisins
- Spices: saffron, cardamom, clove, sea salt, pink peppercorns