If you want a dessert that will make an impression then salted caramel macarons are for you.
The other bonus this dessert offers is that it is relatively easy to make.
The return on your effort is definitely worth the fiddliness of these lovely morsels.
When made well they come across as these soft, yet crunchy, sweet, yet salty bits of heaven.
There was a time in my life when I worked as a professional pastry chef.
Being a pastry chef can be a very exacting, and rewarding job, one that comes with the ability to put a smile on people’s faces.
Dessert is the last thing people would have with their meal, so if it was good, my dessert was the lasting impression they were left with.
Making friends is also a lot easier when you have some good desserts up your sleeve; most people love sweets.
I remember that point in the day when I had several different recipes going at once, none ready, all pending.
That was the point when I’d always have a feeling of dread, the feeling that nothing would get done.
And then, like an air traffic controller I’d land each and every dessert one after the other.
Getting the rush of satisfaction that comes with being able to make so many desserts at once, and pull them off without a hitch.
Maccherone is the Italian word for fine dough and a good description of a macaron which is the French word for this superb meringue dessert.
This is definitely a case of, invented in Italy and perfected in France.
They say French macarons are the best, yet I have to admit that I have never met a macaron I did not like.
Especially with a salted caramel filling!
What is a Macaron?
A macaron is a two sided meringue dessert with a filling sandwiched in the middle creating a light as air, delicate, crunchy, chewy, gooey, sweet mouthful of goodness.
Sometimes the meringue is flavored or colored with food coloring.
The fillings are endless, anything you can imagine is possible.
Where to start?
The flavors seem to be endless when it comes to these delectable delights.
Chocolate with a chocolate ganache filling, lemon with a lemon vanilla filling, strawberry with a cream cheese filling. Lavender coconut, chocolate caramel, coffee and Baileys cream, mint, chocolate hazelnut.
Vanilla, white chocolate and lavender, candy corn, blueberry cream cheese, apricot, mango and white chocolate, pistachio, green tea, chocolate peanut butter, salted caramel, peppermint, chocolate truffle, pumpkin spice, and gingerbread.
Just to name a few.
The flavors are limited only to your imagination.
However, one of my favorite flavors cumulate to make these salted caramel macarons.
How to Make Salted Caramel Macarons
This macaron recipe and method is a favorite of mine.
Macarons are pretty simple to make but you need to be exacting in order to get them right which means that following a recipe to the letter will be important.
Make sure you have all your ingredients together before you begin.
For the Shells
You will need egg whites that are at room temperature.
Make sure no yolk gets into the white as this will keep them from whipping properly.
Sift the almond meal with the powdered sugar in order that they integrate well and also and for the grains to be as fine as possible so that the macarons will have their trademark smooth top and bottom.
It is best to sift two, or even three times.
In a stand mixer (or handheld), using the whisk attachment whisk the egg whites at high speed until they begin to foam up.
At this point, add the cream of tartar.
Cream of tartar is technically an acid that is a residue collected from wine barrels.
Usually cream of tartar is used in combination with baking soda for leavening purposes.
The two together are what make up baking powder.
But in this case the cream of tartar is used to help stiffen the egg whites by increasing the volume and also keeping them white.
Once the whites start to resemble shaving foam add granulated sugar and keep whisking until stiff peaks form.
In three additions fold in the almond meal mixture. As each addition is incorporated, add the next bit.
Transfer to a pastry bag and pipe rounds of macaron batter onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
Try to keep the size at about an inch in diameter, doing the best you can to make them all as close in size as possible.
Let the tray sit for at least 30 minutes so that the edges of the macaron halves can develop their characteristic air bubbles.
Once they have sat for 30 minutes bake the macarons for 16 to 18 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool completely and make the filling while the macarons are cooling.
For the Filling
Melt the sugar in a saucepan while stirring until you have a sugar syrup.
Heat heavy cream to just before boiling point, and add to the melted sugar, add sea salt, remove from heat, and add butter.
Stir until thick and all ingredients are incorporated, then cool.
Once the macaron shells are cool, and using a pastry bag, pipe the filling onto half the rounds, and then top with other macaron shell.
Keep refrigerated for up to five days.
What Makes the Perfect Meringue?
Light and airy, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside are the characteristics of a good meringue.
Follow these tips for the best results:
- For starters, all your bowls and utensils need to be squeaky clean, with no traces of oil.
- Even a speck of oil can keep your whites from achieving their full potential, and meringues are all about the whites.
- Making sure some acid is introduced, in this case, cream of tartar, will make sure your meringue is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.
- And don’t cook them too hot, good temperature control is a must to end up with a successful outcome.
The most common ingredients in a macaron will be the egg whites, which must be at room temperature.
You want the almond meal to be fine and smooth as possible, this is a delicate dessert and you want to help it stay that way.
Cream of tartar, powdered sugar, granulated sugar and perhaps food coloring will round out the ingredients.
People have tried caster sugar instead of granulated sugar in the egg whites, and in some cases have tried powdered sugar instead of granulated.
Caster sugar can be a good substitute or even brown sugar gives an interesting look and flavor.
Powdered sugar whisked with egg whites tends to make the meringue overly sweet and a bit one dimensional.
Of course when it comes to the fillings there are so many different ways to go.
I would recommend that you have flavors that are compatible and maybe some that are opposite.
I would also suggest playing with textures when it comes to filling, like cookie crumbs, or maybe chopped fruit pieces.
Another thing to consider is perhaps to dip half the macaron in frosting or ganache, or some other sweet dip.
Or dip and cover them in melted chocolate for an even more decadent experience.
What to Drink With Salted Caramel Macarons
What do you like drinking?
Macarons go with anything as far as I’m concerned.
Traditionally coffee is what you would serve with macarons.
Tea will also work well, black, green or herbal depending on the flavors of the macarons.
If you want to be decadent then don’t shy away from serving your dessert with a glass of champagne.
How to Best Store Salted Caramel Macarons
Your macarons will keep from 3 to 5 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
Once removed from the fridge allow the macarons to warm up for at least thirty minutes for best flavor.
The good news is that macarons rarely last long enough to worry about storage!
Salted Caramel Macarons Recipe
For the Shells
For the Shells
- Preheat oven to 300ºF (150ºC).
- Sift almond flour and powdered sugar, 2 to 3 times.
- Add cream of tartar and continue to whisk until whites begin to resemble shaving foam.
- Add granulated sugar and continue to whisk until whites have become shiny and form peaks.
- Fold almond flour mixture into egg whites in three separate additions until smooth. Transfer mixture to a pastry bag.
- Pipe one inch rounds onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Let rounds sit on the tray for 30 minutes before baking.
- Bake for 16 to 18 minutes.
- Remove and allow macaron shells to cool completely.
For the Filling
- Heat sugar in a saucepan while stirring until sugar melts creating a sugar syrup.
- Heat cream until just before the boiling point. Add hot cream and sea salt to sugar syrup.
- Remove from heat and stir in the butter until it is fully melted and incorporated. Let it cool completely.
- Once shells are cool turn them in pairs on their rounded side, using a pastry bag, pipe filling on to one of the shells and place the other on top creating a ‘sandwich’ of meringue halves.