Not quite as easy as I thought. But not too bad. And, truthfully, super delicious! I’m quickly eating them all, even the ones I’m pretty sure I over-baked…
I decided to start with the Chocolate & Salted Caramel Macarons. I ground up the almonds in my food processor, added the icing sugar & cocoa powder and processed until it was all a fine powder, just like the recipe asks. I drew the circles on the parchment and preheated the oven, whipped the egg whites & sugar to ‘firm & glossy’ and very carefully folded the dry ingredients into the egg whites until no streaks were showing.
I don’t have a very good pastry bag and I’ve not had much luck with it in the past anyway, so I used this snazzy new Kuhn Rikon cookie press that my mom gave me for Christmas last year. It came with some decorative icing tips, including some round ones, although I don’t think the biggest round one is quite big enough. Anyway, I gave that a shot and was fairly pleased with the results, although I have to say that the 1-3/4″ round drawings seemed awfully big! It took a bit to get the hang of piping the dough into the circles this way, but finally managed. I was totally stoked really pleased when I peeked in the oven toward the end of the baking time and saw their ‘feet’!
The salted caramel filling, though, is unbelievably good. I always hesitate when asked to use my candy thermometer because it’s a super-cheap $6 one and it always seems to pause around the 215-250° area for a ridiculous amount of time, giving me huge anxiety. In fact, the first time I tried making Salted Chocolate Caramels (is anyone noticing a theme here?), I’m convinced I cooked it too long and the caramels were very tough, nearly pulling out fillings. This time, the final step was to cook the caramel for 5 minutes or until it registers at 235°. After nearly 10 minutes, the thermometer was still hovering around 225°, so I said nuts to that at took the caramel off the burner. I think it turned out okay – once it cooled, it was the perfect consistency to sandwich the cookies together and – mon dieu! – it tasted delicious!
(UnFortunately, while I was doing the dishes after my day’s work, I noticed the thermometer had broken at some point – there was a large chunk of the glass missing at the top, probably from being careless with it in the sink of soapy water. So, off the Golda’s I went for my first in-person visit and bought a fancy new one!)
I’m anxious to keep trying to perfect these little devils, and I think I’ve garnered some valuable experience with these two batches. My question now is can you freeze them? Because, ideally, I’d love to hand these out to friends & family as well as send some off to my husband’s office for Christmas treats, but was hoping to store them until closer to Christmas.
- -> The recipe says it makes 12 macarons total, but I easily got 24 out of one recipe, with enough filling for all 24, as well.
- -> I made two separate batches and the first ones actually turned out better. I should have let them cool on the pans longer, as some of them stuck to the parchment too much. I thought this was due to my having under-baked them, so I left the second batch in 2 minutes longer and, of course, over-baked them.
- -> I got a bit cocky with the ‘firm & glossy’ egg whites the second time around, as well – there’s a note in the magazine warning against beating them too long because it’ll cause the cookies to be dry & crumbly, which the second batch was.
- -> The LCBO recommends you serve these with Gianduia Crema Cioccolato Gianduia E Grappa – 500 mL bottle, $29.95
CHOCOLATE & SALTED CARAMEL MACARONS - Food&Drink Magazine, Holiday 2010
- 1 cup (250 mL) icing sugar, sifted
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely ground almonds
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) egg whites, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
- Fleur de sel
SALTED CARAMEL FILLING
- 1/4 cup (50 mL) golden syrup or corn syrup
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
- Pinch salt
- 2 tsp (10 mL) butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) 35% whipping cream
- For macarons, preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw 24* 1-3/4″ (4 cm) circles on the sheet; flip the parchment over. Set baking sheet on top of a second baking sheet. (<- I’m not sure I understand this last instruction. Anyone else??)
- Combine the icing sugar with the almonds and cocoa in the bowl of a food processor. Blend for 30 to 60 seconds or until the mixture is a fine powder. Set aside.
- Place the egg whites and vanilla in a large bowl. Use an electric mixer on medium-high to beat until whites are foamy. Add the granulated sugar by the spoonful, beating until firm and glossy. In 2 additions, gently fold the reserved almond mixture into the egg whites just until the mixture is streak-free. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip.
- Pipe the batter onto the prepared lined pans by placing the tip into the centre of each circle, squeezing just until the batter reaches the outer edge. Gently rap the cookie sheet evenly against the counter a few times or use the back of a spoon dipped in warm water to smooth any peaks. Sprinkle each cookie with a few grains of fleur de sel. Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes (but no more than 60 minutes).
- Bake on the centre rack for 16 to 18 minutes or until the surface is set and bottoms are light golden. (<- I always find it hilarious when asked to judge when a chocolate cookie is ‘golden’. Isn’t it already too dark in colour to tell??) Cool completely on pan. Gently transfer to a cooling rack until ready to fill. (Cookies can be made to this point and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.)
- For filling, combine syrup, sugar and salt in a very small saucepan. Set over medium head and stir until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, for 5 minutes until the mixture registers 305°F (152°C) on a candy thermometer. Brush down the sides of the pan with water if crystals start to form.
- Remove from the heat and, shielding your stirring hand, stir in the butter. Stir in the cream and return to the stovetop. Cook, stirring until smooth, over medium heat for 5 minutes or until mixture is 235°F (112°C). Cool slightly. Pour into a heatproof bowl. Cool completely until thick.
- Spread an equal amount of filling on the bottoms of 12* cookies; sandwich with an additional cookie.
Makes 12* macarons.
*Like I said, I got twice as many cookies out of this recipe as it states, so it’s best to be prepared with 2 sheets of circles and 2 pans rather than one.