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.
What is a Macaron?
A macaron is a two sided meringue dessert with a filling sandwiched in the middle.
Think of it as 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, almost anything you can imagine is possible.
Where to start?
The flavors seem to be endless when it comes to these delectable delights.
The flavors are limited only to your imagination.
One of my favorites are these salted caramel macarons, just pure and simple.
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.
This means that following the recipe to the letter will be important.
Make sure you have all your ingredients together at room temperature 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.
That way the macarons will have their trademark smooth top and bottom.
It is best to sift two, or even three times for best results.
At this point, add the cream of tartar.
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.
This ingredient will also help keep them white.
Once the whites start to resemble shaving foam add granulated sugar, keep whisking until stiff peaks form.
In three additions, fold in the almond meal mixture.
As each addition is incorporated, add the next bit, keeping as much air in the mixture as possible.
Transfer to a pastry bag and pipe rounds of macaron batter onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
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 rested for 30 minutes, bake the macarons for 16 to 18 minutes.
Remove from the oven, set aside and allow the macarons to cool completely.
Make the filling while the macarons are cooling.
For The Filling
Heat heavy cream to just before boiling point.
Stir until thick and all ingredients are incorporated, then allow to cool.
Once the macaron shells are cool, and using a pastry bag, pipe the filling onto half the rounds, then top with another macaron shell.
Best fresh, these macarons can be kept 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 egg whites from achieving their full potential, and meringues are all about the whites.
- Make sure some acid is introduced, in this case cream of tartar, to ensure your meringue is crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.
- 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, at room temperature.
You want the almond meal to be fine and as smooth as possible.
This is a delicate dessert and you want to help it stay that way with fine almond flour.
Cream of tartar, powdered sugar, granulated sugar and perhaps food coloring will round out typical 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.
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 counter intuitive.
I would also suggest playing with textures when it comes to filling, like cookiecrumbs, or maybe chopped fruit pieces.
Or dip and cover them in melted chocolate for an even more decadent experience.
History Of The Macaron
Introduced to France from Italy during the Renaissance by the chef to Catherine de Medici, an Italian noblewoman and queen consort of France.
The predecessor to what we know as the macaron today was first made in Venetian monasteries.
They were made from a sugar mixture, almonds and egg whites and referred to as priest’s belly buttons.
Not quite as appetizing sounding as macarons which were made with an almond flour mixture and lots of fillings.
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!
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 have with their meal, so if it’s good, it is the lasting impression of the meal.
I used to have to make 5 or 6 different desserts a day.
There was always 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.
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 also works 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 best news is that macarons rarely last long enough to worry about storage!
Salted Caramel Macarons Recipe
For the Shells
- 1 cup Almond Flour
- 1½ cup Powdered Sugar
- 3 Large Egg Whites
- ¼ cup Sugar
- ¼ tsp Cream of Tartar
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.
- 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.