Salted Caramel Macarons

Ever since I made my first batch of macarons, I've loved them. I love making them, I love eating them, I love thinking of flavours for them. They're so versatile - you can put just about anything in between two macarons and it's still a macaron!

I've made quite a few macarons on this blog and I thought I would round 'em all up in one post! A macaron party!

If you are new to macarons, have no fear! They as easier than you think, as long as you follow the instructions exactly. No "Oh, I'll just use this instead of that," or "I don't have a thermometer so I'll just guess" or anything like that. That's how you mess up macarons. They're picky things to make, but not as mythically difficult as people make them out to be. I give a very detailed and precise guide to macarons in the first macaron post I did (also one of my favourites), Vanilla Macarons with French Buttercream. Read through the entire recipe before you start!

One of my absolute favourite macarons that I've ever made were my French Toast Macarons. White chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, maple syrup, and rum - the decadent flavours of sweet french toast drenched in maple syrup, but in a macaron! They are just crazy delicious.

A surprisingly delicious macaron flavour that I did was my Raspberry and Pink Peppercorn Macarons. The pink peppercorns are certainly not as peppery as their black counterparts and they add a nice floral note in the aftertaste, especially when paired with the tart raspberries.

I love hazelnuts, especially when they're the sole flavour of something. These Caramelized Hazelnut Macarons incorporate homemade praline paste into the shells as well as into the buttercream. Pure hazelnutty goodness, all the way.

I love the flavour of lemon in just about anything - whether it be sweet or savoury. But I love pairing lemon with fruit, and raspberries are one of my favourite berries to work with, so it was only natural for me to combine them in my Lemon Raspberry Macarons. They have both raspberry buttercream and lemon curd as a filling so you get both flavours in every bite!

I rediscovered the joy of oreos with these Cookies and Cream Macarons, which was both a good thing and a bad thing. I wolfed down that packet of oreos so quickly... The filling for these macarons actually has whole ground up oreo cookies - not just the cookie part, but the filling, too. And also some white chocolate and cream because oreos are not enough, apparently.

If you haven't guessed it already, I love taking classic flavour combinations usually found in other desserts, and making them into macarons. Case in point with these holiday Cranberry and White Chocolate Macarons. Smooth, creamy, and sweet white chocolate buttercream and a tart and tangy cranberry compote come together in one delicious macaron that gives you a bit of both with every bite. I wish it were Christmas again so I could make these!

And my most recent macarons, these Salted Caramel Macarons! Salted caramel has got to be one of the best flavours in the world and I'm surprised it took me this long to finally put it into a macaron. The caramel jam is kind of a cross between a chewy caramel and a caramel sauce. It's very thick at room temperature, but will still drizzle beautifully when it's heated up. There will be extra caramel jam left over from this recipe for you to spoon over ice cream. Or just eat with a spoon, I won't judge.

Salted Caramel Macarons

Caramel Jam
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

85 g glucose
125 g sugar
20 g unsalted butter
130 g heavy cream

Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

212 g almond flour/meal
212 g powdered sugar
82 g egg whites
90 g egg whites
1/2 vanilla bean
236 g granulated sugar
158 g water

Salted Caramel Buttercream
Recipe adapted from Bouchon Bakery Cookbook

75 g egg whites
150 g sugar
33 g sugar
42 g water
221 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2 inch dice
220 g caramel jam
5 g salt

For the caramel jam, place the glucose in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the sugar one-third at a time, stirring just enough to incorporate before adding the next batch. Adding all the sugar at once could cause the sugar to caramelize too quickly and unevenly. 

After about 3 minutes, when the sugar has dissolved, the bubbles are a rich amber colour, and the temperature is 350 F/177 C, reduce the heat to medium. Working quickly, stir in the butter. Once the butter gas melted, gradually stir in the cream. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping to keep the mixture from scorching, until it reaches 248 F/120 C. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a container; let cool.

The jam can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. To liquefy it, warm it slowly in a microwave or on the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water.

tart on the macarons. The macarons need to be as close in size as possible and a template is the easiest way to ensure that. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface with the long side facing you. Using a glass or bowl, trace the desired size of your macaroons (I used a 1.5 inch diameter for these). Make sure to leave 1 inch of space between them. Turn the parchment over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up each corner of the parchment and spray with non-stick spray to keep it from blowing up while the cookies are baking. Repeat with a second sheet.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. Make a well in the center, leaving a layer of flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams egg whites and combine with a spatula. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Set aside.

Place the remaining 90 grams egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the 236 grams sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the syrup reaches 203 F/110 C.

Letting the syrup continue to cook, add a pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving.

When the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and 
the whisk. The meringue will deflate. Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm, the meringue should have cooled. If not, continue to whip until it is cool.

Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at a time (you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the "ribbon" slowly moves. The mixture shouldn't be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn't be so loose that it dissolves into itself and does not maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be sightly stiff than too loose.

Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch tip. Hold the bag upright 1/2 inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the bag.

Place the sheet pan in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees again.

Pipe the remaining macaron mixture into the circles of the second sheet pan and bake as directed above. Let cool completely.

For the buttercream, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. 

Place the 150 g of sugar in a small saucepan, add the water, and stir to moisten the sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, and simmer until the syrup reaches 230 F/100 C. 

Letting the syrup continue to cook, turn the mixer to medium speed, gradually pour in the remaining 33 g of sugar into the whites, and whip until the whites are beginning to form very loose peaks. If the whites are ready before the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, turn the mixer to the lowest setting just to keep them moving.

When the syrup reaches 248 F/120 C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly add the syrup to the whites, pouring it between the sides of the bowl and the whisk. Increase the speed to medium-high and whisk for 15 minutes, or until the bottom of the bowl is at room temperature and the whites hold stiff peaks. 

Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter a few pieces at a time. If at any point the mixture looks broken, increase the speed and beat to re-remulsify it, then reduce the speed and continue adding the butter. 

Make sure your caramel jam is at room temperature before you add it to the buttercream, or it will melt the butter. With the mixer of low speed, slowly drizzle in the caramel jam into the buttercream. If your caramel jam was too warm and the buttercream looks too loose, refrigerate it for 20 minutes, then rewhip it. Sprinkle in the salt and whip for 30 seconds to combine.

Transfer the buttercream to the pastry bag with the 3/8 inch tip. Turn half of the macarons over and pipe about 15 g of buttercream onto each macaron, not quite reaching the edge of the macaron. Top with a second macaroni and press gently to spread the buttercream to the edges. Repeat with the remaining macarons and filling.