Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Salted Caramel Macarons

With how long it's been since my last post, you would think that I was away from the world baking entirely for the last two weeks, but not so! I've been doing a lot of baking lately, along with taking a Wilton cake decorating class, and having a really hectic schedule at my day job.

This past weekend, I helped with a ladies brunch by making lemon and strawberry macarons and mini lemon cupcakes.

I've been trying to make as many French Macarons as possible because I know that's the only way I'll feel I've mastered them. It is a huge encouragement that I can't remember the last time a batch didn't turn out- just some minor issues with uneven sized cookies, air bubbles, and occasional texture imperfection. The great part is that even when small things are not exactly as I would want them to be, they still taste amazing and people love them.

For the Macaron Shells (makes about 34 shells)

3/4 cup almond flour
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup superfine sugar
2 large egg whites, at room temperature and aged at least 24 hours
Gold gel food coloring

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine almond flour and confectioner's sugar in food processor until smooth. Whisk egg whites using stand or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Add food coloring. Sift one half almond flour mixture into egg whites and fold until almost incorporated. Add the other half of the mixture and fold until batter ribbons off of spatula.

Place batter in large pastry bag fitted with plain 1/2 inch round tip. Pipe evenly sized 1-inch circles onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.

Allow macarons to rest for at least 30 minutes prior to baking. Once you're ready to place in the oven, turn oven temperature down to 275 degrees. Bake macarons one sheet at a time for about 15 minutes until cookies are just set and no longer wiggle with touch. Once cooled, assemble with filling.

Salted Caramel Filling (by Pierre Herme, source: The Boy Who Bakes

200g Sugar

330g Whipping Cream

30g Salted Butter + 140g Softened Salted Butter

Add about 50g of sugar to a saucepan, let it melt, then add another 50g sugar. Continue three times until all 200g of sugar has been incorporated and melted.

Allow the sugar caramelize until it has turned a deep amber shade. Remove from the heat and add the 30g butter. Add the cream which will spatter and bubble and may seize up and harden but will melt in the next stage (mine did seize up, but sure enough, after a while of heating on the stove with the cream, it combined nicely). Put heat back on and continue cooking until mixture reaches 108 degrees on a candy thermometer. Set aside to cool (I put mine in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes, which helped a lot).

Beat the remaining butter for 8 to 10 minutes and then incorporate the caramel in 2 additions. Add this to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe into half of the shells and then sandwich another shell on top. Allow macarons to rest with filling at least overnight prior to eating/serving.

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