I’m not sure what to say, other than this:
I hope that the last thing I ever taste is a salted caramel macaroon.
These are, hands down, my absolute favourite thing to eat. The are the perfect blend of sweet and salty, the filling is the creamiest buttercream you’re going to find, and the meringues are perfectly light and crisp. Back to that salted caramel butter cream for a second though – I use it on everything now. I worked it out through a bunch of trial and error coming up with my macaroon recipe, but now that it’s perfect, I use it on everything (cakes, cupcakes, etc). This will be your go-to caramel frosting if that’s your thing.
Now, macaroons are tricky to make. I’m not going to pretend that they aren’t. Most of mine don’t look that pretty, the tops might have a bump, they might not rise enough so the “foot” isn’t as prominent as you want it to be. None of that matters though, because they taste great, and every time I make them there are more and more good looking ones. What I’m saying is these take practice, and that’s fine. Don’t stop yourself from making them just because they’re a bit tough.
Also, if you’re going to the trouble of making them, do a big batch. They freeze really well for up to 6 months as long as you store them in an air tight container. Once frozen (so after 12 hours or so), it wouldn’t be a bad idea to wrap them up in some plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn, and then back into the air tight container too.
If you like salted caramel, check out this cake!
The most important thing to remember about macaroons: You should make them ahead. They are best when eaten 24 hours after they’ve been made. Me, I don’t follow the rule, I eat them right away, then I eat some more on day two. Win, win.
Lets get to the recipes first, then I’ll add in a few step by step photos of the macaroon shell making. You need three different recipes for this. One for the macaroon shells, one for the buttercream, and one for the salted caramel sauce that mixes into the buttercream. That sauce is awesome on ice-cream too!
- 200 grams egg whites, room temperature (about 6 large eggs)
- 100 grams granulated sugar
- 200 grams ground almonds (also known as almond flour)
- 400 grams icing sugar (also known as confectioners sugar
- Food coloring (I prefer the gel kind)
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups White Sugar
- 8 Tablespoons Salted Butter, Softened, Cut Into Tablespoon Sized Pieces
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Salt (or table salt), to taste
Salted Caramel Buttercream
- 18 tbsp white sugar
- 6 tbsp water
- 3 large egg whites
- 300 grams butter, room temperature, and cut into tablespoon sized chunks
- ½ cup salted caramel sauce, or to taste
- Pre-heat your oven to 300ºF and prep your baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.
- Put the ground almonds and icing sugar into your food processor, and process until very finely ground. If you want to guarantee super smooth shells, shift twice when finished. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, start to whip your egg whites. When they start to get foamy, slowly pour in the granulated sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form. Add your food coloring and whip again, just long enough to uniformly combine.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and add in half of the almond sugar mixture. Give a few quick stirs with a large spoon or spatula to start to combine. Add the remaining almond sugar mixture and carefully fold in. Do not over mix. The batter will fall in a thick ribbon from your spoon and disappear in a few seconds . Think lava for consistency.
- Add the batter to a large piping bag fitted with a very large round tip (or to a zip-lock back with the corner cut out). Pipe out 1” to 1½” circles depending on your preference (I like bigger macaroons, so I do 1½”).
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops are dry looking. Let cool on the pan until room temperature before removing to a cooling rack (about 10 or 15 minutes). You may need to use a knife or offset spatula to lift them from the sheets. Cool completely on wire racks before filling.
Salted Caramel Sauce
- Add the sugar to a large pot set over medium-high heat. Gently stir until the sugar has melted, then stop stirring.
- Let it boil, without touching, until the caramel reaches an amber colour, and registers 320ºF on a candy or instant read thermometer. It will have a nice amber colour, but should not smell burnt at all.
- As soon as it reaches 320ºF remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until completely melted and combined.
- Slowly pour in the heavy cream, in a thin stream, while whisking vigorously. Stir in the salt, and pour into a Pyrex glass measuring cup to cool completely before using.
- This can be made ahead and stored in the fridge. If you do this, simply return it to room temperature before using for in the buttercream.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
- Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Boil until the mixture reaches 235ºF to 240ºF, the soft ball stage of candy making, then immediately remove from the heat.
- While the sugar mixture is boiling, whip the egg whites using a stand mixer until they form soft peaks.
- When the sugar reaches the soft ball stage, turn the mixer back on medium/high and slowly pour a thin stream of the sugar mixture between the whip and the edge of the bowl, until completely combined. Continue whipping until the sides of the bowl are cool to the touch again (room temperature). This is a very important step, as rushing it will melt the butter and ruin the frosting.
- When the bowl is back to room temperature, add your softened butter, two tablespoons at a time. When all the butter has been added, the mixture may look slightly curdled, and that’s normal. Continue whipping until the mixture becomes silky again.
- Whip in the room temperature salted caramel sauce, approximately half a cup worth, and then adjust based on your taste.
- Add the buttercream to a large piping bag with a round tip, or to a zip-lock bag with the corner cut out. Add about a teaspoon (depends on the size of the shells) of buttercream to the centre of a macaroon shell, then top with a second shell, slightly pushing down until the filling almost reaches the edge.
- Store the macaroons in the fridge for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to six months. Let come to room temperature before eating.
Ok, here are a few pictures from making the macaroon shells.
First up, if you want all your macaroon shells to be the same size, it’s easiest to find something to trace onto parchment paper. 90% of the time I don’t bother and just eyeball it. When I’m eating them, I don’t care if all the shells are exactly the same size, but if you’re showing them off, this is a good trick to use. I used an allergy pill bottle. Pro tip – put a dot of meringue mixture under the four corners of the parchment to make it stick to your baking sheet.
This is the ground almonds and icing sugar after it’s been processed until super fine.
Here are my nice, stiff peaked egg whites.
This is just after I added a bit of food coloring to the egg whites. Color choice is completely up to you.
This is folding almond and sugar mixture into the egg whites. Be gentle!
And this is what it looks like when you’re ready to start piping them. It should be a thick liquid. Not super runny, but enough that if you draw a line through it, it slowly sinks back together.
And, here are the bad ones. See, I told you they aren’t all perfect. I’m still getting the technique down pat. The taste though, that’s all that really matters!