espresso caramel macarons

espresso caramel macaronsLast week, a coworker brought her new cookbook into school to show me.  After quickly flipping through it, all the gorgeous pictures and the unique and creative flavor combinations had me convinced – I went home and ordered it that afternoon.  After getting Les Petits Macarons last Friday, I got to work this weekend and tried my first recipe from the book.

Overall, I think there’s a lot of good information in this book.  I like that the author shares 4 different ways of making macarons, so you can choose the one that works best for you.  I also like the section on troubleshooting, to help you figure out what went wrong if you have difficulty.  And most importantly, the flavor combinations all sound amazing.  That being said, I didn’t like their method of baking the macarons, and will probably stick to the one I’ve used before (this is reflected below).  These also came out a little flatter than I would have liked, but that was my fault for over-mixing the macaronage.  If I don’t have better luck next time with this recipe, I’ll probably go back to the base method I’ve had success with before.  I’ll keep you posted!

Ingredients

  • 165 grams almond flour or blanched almonds
  • 165 grams confectioner’s sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 5 grams (1 tbsp.) espresso powder
  • 115 grams egg whites
  • 3 grams (1/2 tsp.) cream of tartar
  • 150 grams granulated sugar
  • 57 grams water
  • food coloring (optional)

For the caramel sauce*:

  • 1 cup (7 oz.) sugar
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • ¼ tsp. coarse salt
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

* This will make way more than you need for this recipe, but if you’re going to make caramel you might as well go for it, right? Just store it in the fridge for any late night ice cream cravings :)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Double up 2 baking sheets and line with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a food processor, process the blanched almonds, confectioner’s sugar, salt and espresso powder until the almonds are finely ground.  If using almond flour, still combine in the food processor to make sure it is ground finely enough – this will just take less pulses.  Sift the mixture through a fine mesh sieve placed over a large mixing bowl to ensure that no large chunks get into the batter.  You may have to re-process the leftover almond bits until they are ground small enough.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar.  Mix on medium speed (4-6 on a Kitchenaid) until soft peaks form.  Meanwhile, combine the granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high until the sugar is dissolved.  Continue heating until the mixture reaches 235°F.

If the egg whites reach soft peaks before the sugar syrup is ready, turn the speed to low.  Once the sugar syrup is ready, return the speed to medium and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl, until fully incorporated.  If desired, add in food coloring (I used a drop of yellow and a drop of brown for these).  Continue whisking on medium speed until stiff peaks form.

Add about 1/3 of the meringue into the dry ingredients and fold in until combined.  Continue adding in the meringue in parts, folding gently but firmly.  You don’t want to overmix the batter, but you do need to use enough pressure to deflate the meringue.  Keep folding the batter until it runs off the spatula in thick ribbons and reincorporates within about 20-30 seconds.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip.  Pipe rounds of batter about 1-inch in diameter onto your prepared baking sheets.  If the batter is the right consistency, it shouldn’t spread much, so you can pipe the shells fairly close together.  You may see small peaks right after piping, but these should smooth out within a minute or so.

Once your shells are piped, rap your baking sheet hard against the counter to get rid of any air bubbles.  You might get some air bubbles that rise to the surface but don’t break; pop these with a toothpick.  Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are set on their feet (not too wiggly).  You can also test their doneness by trying to peel one off the baking sheet; if the top comes off of the feet, they’re not done.  Let the shells cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the caramel sauce, measure out the heavy cream in a liquid measuring cup and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream.  Set aside.

Spread the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Heat over medium-low heat, making sure to keep a close eye on it.  When the sugar begins to liquefy around the edges, use a heatproof spatula to gently push the edges towards the center.  Continue to do so until all the sugar is melted, being careful not to mess with the sugar too much – if you do so it will start to clump together.   Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove the sauce pan from the heat.  (To test the color, you can spoon a little bit onto a white plate.)  Slowly and carefully whisk in half of the heavy cream along with the vanilla bean seeds, whisking constantly.  The mixture will steam and bubble violently.  Continue to stir until the cream is well incorporated, then whisk in the remaining cream.  Stir in the salt and the vanilla.  If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan over low heat and whisk until smooth.  Set aside to cool.

Once the shells and caramel are cool, spoon small dollops of caramel onto half of the macaron shells.  Top with the remaining shells.  Be careful not to use too much caramel sauce, or the shells will slide off of one another.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 40 macarons

Source: Adapted from Les Petits Macarons

 

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