I've been wanting to try these for some time now, and decided Saturday morning to make a batch. I read several recipes and decided to use my usual macaron recipe with a salted caramel filling recipe from LadyMacaron20ten. I've reproduced it below, with one change - I couldn't get sea salt flakes here so have had to make do with ground sea salt.
125g Fresh Cream
175g Caster Sugar
5g ground Sea Salt
175g Unsalted Butter (chopped into small cubes)
MAKE THE CARAMEL: Melt the sugar over low heat until it caramelises. Heat the cream in a separate saucepan until it reaches boiling point then slowly pour it into the melted sugar. Blend with a whisk and allow the caramel to cool. When it reaches 45 degrees celsius add the butter and whisk until well combined. Pour into a shallow stainless steel tray, place cling wrap on the top, to prevent a skin from forming, then cool in the fridge. When set, remove from the fridge, bring back to room temperature and hand whisk again until the colour changes and it becomes glossy.
So, this morning (Saturday) i separated 3 egg whites to get 105g egg whites, and left them out (covered) on the counter to age.
After i'd been to the shops to buy some cream, i started the caramel. I put the sugar in a pot over low heat (mark 2 of 6) and stirred it every few minutes until the whole lot had melted. I think i may have left the sugar on a little too long, it tasted a bit burnt but not too bad. When the sugar had nearly completely melted, i put the cream on to bring it to boiling point, but i'd misjudged how long the sugar would take and the cream started boiling, so i took it off the heat until the caramel was ready and put it back on briefly, then slowly poured the hot cream into the sugar.
The sugar/cream mixture started boiling, and i quickly stirred it with a spoon until it was mixed and smooth (took quite some time). I then left it to cool before putting the butter in - a little bit long as the butter only half melted, so i put it back on a low heat until the butter melted then took it off and stirred until all the butter was mixed in.
It's now in the fridge covered with cling wrap so as not to form a skin.
I couldn't see where she put the salt in, but reading other recipes i found it was put in after the caramel had been rewhipped, just before piping.
This morning (Sunday) i started on the macarons, using my trusty Gourmet Traveller recipe. Before i started mixing them, i took the caramel out of the fridge to let it warm to room temperature.
130 gm pure icing sugar
110 gm almond meal
105 gm eggwhite (about 2 large, or up to 4 small), at room temperature, left out overnight
65 gm caster sugar
I put the icing sugar and almond meal in the food processor and whizzed it round for a few minutes, stopping regularly to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Meanwhile the egg whites went into a separate bowl to be beaten to soft peak stage, then i added the caster sugar a tablespoon at a time until it was all mixed in. The whites were between soft and firm peak by this stage. To colour the macarons, i opened my new Wilton gel colours, put the tip of a knife into the yellow and mixed the gel into the whites. I then did the same with the red colour, probably about a quarter as much as yellow, then beat the eggs till the colour mixed fully in. I'm amazed at how strong the colour is.
I folder the almond flour mixture into the egg whites in two batches, being careful not to overmix (my usual problem). I mixed until i could get a short ribbon of batter falling from the spoon, and the ribbon would start to sink into the rest of the batter rather than leaving a hard line on top where it had landed. Then i spooned it into my piping bag and piped onto my prepared lined trays - but this time only piping four rows per tray instead of my usual six, to stop the macarons running into each other. I lifted the trays 30cm off the floor and dropped them, twice, to get rid of air bubbles.
I then had a go at sprinkling the tops of the macarons with things. I've seen cocoa nibs used (no idea where to get those in Perth) and various lustre powders, but as i didn't have any on hand i tried brown sugar (falls in clumps), raw caster sugar (can't be seen on the top) and cocoa powder through a sieve (the easiest). I've now patiently waited two hours for them to form a skin, and they're ready to pop in the oven.
Was rather disappointed when they came out - some of the tops had cracked, and there was no feet! First time i've ever produced macarons with no feet. Perhaps i dropped the trays too many times - might try just once next time. However they seemed to peel off the paper very easily and i only had a few which left behind their sticky tummies.
While they were cooling, i spooned the caramel into my mixing bowl, and beat it on slow speed with my balloon whisks until it was light and fluffy, then added 5g of sea salt which i had finely ground in my mortar and pestle (would leave it larger next time), mixed it in then spooned it into my piping bag and onto one half of the paired shells.
And here they are:
Even with the burnt sugar in the caramel, they taste delicious. Definitely a recipe i'd make again. Maybe slightly less salt in the caramel (i was having trouble with my scales not registering the salt and think i had a little too much) and perhaps using some of that salt as sprinkling on the tops of the macarons.