Chocolate and salted caramel seems to be doing it’s rounds around the www lately. Muffins, cookies, donuts, cakes, ice cream, chocolates and of course, macarons. I wasn’t quite sure what the hype was all about, not until I finally made a batch of salted caramel following a Pierre Herme recipe. It was intended to be the filling of some profiteroles, but I think more was spreaded onto scones and even swirled into a fresh batch of vanilla ice cream as I tried my very best to incorporate it into as many recipes as possible.
This additive sauce turns out to be quite versatile.
I’ve matched it with my popcorn macarons in an earlier post, and here it’s matched with my Valrhona cocoa shells, which turned out absolutely perfectly this time.
Macarons shell ingredients
150 g icing sugar
140 g almond meal
10g valrhona cocoa powder
110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1 g meringue powder
Making macarons shells
Sift the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa powder, set aside in a large wide bowl.
Put the first lot of egg whites into your hand or stand mixer.
Clip the sugar thermometer according to manufacturer’s instructions to a milk saucepan, put the water and caster sugar in and dissolve the sugar over a low heat. Leave it to heat up and don’t stir it.
Cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 70°C. You should monitor your sugar thermometer, and as it reaches this temperature, add the meringue powder to the egg whites and whisk in medium speed until it becomes frothy.
Once the sugar syrup has reached 118°C (soft ball stage), take the saucepan off the heat, keep the mixer speed on medium and slowly trickle the sugar syrup in, down the side of the bowl. (Be warned not to get the syrup onto the whisk as you will then have spun sugar.) Increase speed to high and whisk until the bowl is warm to touch, about 8 minutes.
Add the second lot of egg whites to the almond meal mix, then add the meringue and use a large spatula to thoroughly combine it. Continue mixing the mixture to soften the meringue. Don’t be afraid to slap the mixture down.To achieve “macaronnage”, I mixed the batter about 25 times. Don’t over do this.
Test it by pulling the spatula up and letting the mixture drip back into the bowl. Watch it, if it quickly homogenises with the rest of the mixture, it is ready.
Scoop half into a piping bag fitted with a #12 Wilton tip, and pipe. To get even rounds, hold the piping bag above the baking sheet, with the tip at a 45 degree angle. Squeeze the mixture in the centre of my rounds and as it is close to filling the circle, stop squeezing and flick the tip from three o’clock to 6 o’clock. This ensures a smooth top.
You can sift some cocoa powder on the tops too if you wish.
Allow 30 minutes for a skin to be formed.
Fan-bake them at 125°C, for 20 minutes. After a few minutes in the oven, I could see them rising nicely.
Once out of the oven, the macarons were left for 2 minutes on its trays before I checked them. They peeled off the baking paper quite easily. I then slid the whole sheet off the baking sheet onto my cool marble counter top. This causes a thermal shock and will make it even easier
to peel off.
I paired these with the salted caramel thick sauce
200g castor sugar
310ml fresh cream
50g butter, cubed
5g good quality salt flakes
A few drops of vanilla essence
Heat the sugar in a wide saucepan until it is melted.
Be really careful and wait for it to turn amber/ golden and slightly smoke.
Carefully add the cream in slowly, continuing to whisk but be aware of the resulting vigorous bubbling.
Add the butter in gradually until it is melted and combined.
Add in salt flakes and vanilla essence.
Cool in the fridge for a few hours.
Fill half of your shells and top them with the remaining half of your shells.
If your salted caramel isn’t thick enough, you can try mixing more sugar in. Add a tablespoonful and stir, keeping adding until it is thick enough to spread.
The filled macarons need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells, so don’t eat it yet! These freeze well (up to 3 months).