Sea Salt Caramel Macarons
Macarons are one of those sweet treats that I can't get enough of!They bring back so many memories of being at culinary school when I was studying French Patisserie. There are so many different French pastries but what always caught my eye was the little colourful macaron shells filled with wonderful ganaches, curds, caramels or jams! So delicious...
These macarons are filled with a delightfully light caramel cream, sprinkled with big sea salt flakes, they are so yummy! I recommend making the base for the cream the day before as it requires an overnight chill in the fridge. It takes no time at all which is great. So there is no excuse to not make them! It will be totally worth the wait!
Here are some tips and tricks for you to help you make the best possible macarons!
Use good quality ground almonds! The finer the better. You can get a better quality by ordering online. Or you can sieve the almonds a couple times to achieve the finer granule.
Temperature is key. When making the Italian meringue, use a sugar thermometer. It will make it so much easier! It will ensure the meringue is beautifully smooth which will make your macarons so!
Consistency is so important! When mixing the meringue into the almond mixture, make sure you do so carefully. It shouldn't be too runny or too thick. When a knife is run through the mix, after 5 seconds, it should disappear. The mixture also should be shiny and glossy. However, do not over mix! Otherwise, you will lose all the air in the mix and will be very runny and you won't be able to keep the classically round shape.
Resting time. Once you have piped the macarons, make sure to rest them for a good 20 mins. If you touch them, no mark will be left on your finger. This is when they are ready to bake.
How to know when they are cooked? You can tell when you can lift the macaroon off the paper clean.
Colour. I recommend using a paste or powder. Not a liquid. A liquid colour will affect the consistency as well as not being strong enough to colour the macarons. You always need to go darker than you think as you will lose some colour during baking.
Makes 20 Macarons
For the Macaron Shells
250g Icing Sugar
250g Ground Almonds
80g Egg White
225g Caster Sugar
80g Egg White
5g Brown Food Colour
For the filling:
200g Whipping cream
1 tsp. Vanilla extract
1 tsp. Salt
100g Double cream
Firstly, let's make the caramel. Put the sugar into a pan, and bring to a medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook until the sugar has melted and is a medium dark colour.
Little by little, add the whipping cream to the sugar, stirring until all the cream has been incorporated. Add the salt and vanilla.
Once the caramel has cooled slightly, add the butter and double cream and whisk until completely mixed together. Place in the fridge overnight until the caramel has thickened and much firmer.
Now for the macarons.Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Sieve together the ground almonds and icing sugar and put into a bowl making sure they are completely mixed together.
In a small jug, measure the 100g egg white with the colour. Whisk until the egg whites are completely brown.
Add this mixture into the almond mix. Using a spatula or scraper, mix until a stiff paste is formed and the colour is completely mixed through. At this point the colour should be very bright as it loses its colour whilst cooking, add more colour if necessary. Now leave this mixture until required later.
In a free standing mixer or using an electric whisk, place the 80g egg whites in a bowl. Now place the water and sugar into a pan, and start to bring to the boil. Using a thermometer, cook until it reaches 121 degrees celsius. Whilst cooking the sugar, whisk the egg whites to a medium to stiff peak, then once the sugar is at temperature, slowly pour the sugar into the egg whites on a low speed. Increase the speed once the sugar is completely added. Whisk until cool.
Now come back to the almond mixture. add the meringue to the mix, taking 1/3 at a time, fold slowly, making sure to mix thoroughly. Once all mixed together it should look smooth and shiny, and if you make a mark with a spoon through, it should disappear within 5 seconds.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a 10mm round nozzle with the mixture. Then pipe the macarons onto baking trays lined with greaseproof paper. Pipe to a 3cm diameter. Tap the tray onto a hard surface to remove any bubbles and to flatten them slightly.
Leave the macarons outside for about 15-20 mins to ensure they have dried. You should be able to touch them without getting anything stuck on your fingers. Put into the oven for about 10-12 mins. They will be done when you can lift them off the paper easily.
Pair the shells to others which are the same size and shape.
Filling the shells is quite simple, take out the caramel from the fridge, using a whisk or a free standing mixer, whisk the caramel until medium peaks are formed.
Place the cream in a piping bag and pipe onto one of the pair and then placing the other on top of that.
Leave them in the fridge to soften and for the flavours and texture to fuse together, ideally overnight but can be for 30 mins or so.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container and they will last for 3-5 days.