One of the most popular flavours around these days is salted caramel. I see it in tarts, biscuits, cupcakes and certainly macarons. So when B requested Salted Caramel Macarons for her part of the 30th birthday macaron tower, I was excited to give it a go.
There are numerous recipes out there for salted caramel macarons, and the one I used was from one of my 100+ cookbooks being Secrets of Macarons by José Maréchal. It is an awesome little book with lots of info on how to make these fiddly little things and I refer to it regularly.
When I made my test batch of these, I was beyond happy with how the caramel turned out. I haven’t made caramel too often before, and I managed to get a slight burnt flavour to the test batch (I love burnt caramel – so delicious). The one thing I wasn’t happy with the test batch was the colour of the shells as they ended up looking quite anaemic.
After much consultation with Mr Google, I used a lot more of the brown colouring than I used before, but I also added some of the gold colouring I bought for the Checkerboard Cake to provide the caramel tone.
I had come across some powdered caramel colouring which I thought I had ordered but turns out I didn’t. But the colour that resulted from the combination of the Wilton Brown and Americolor Gold gel pastes was close to what I envisaged, and ended up looking amazing on the finished tower with the Cherry Ripe and Popcorn and Malteser Macarons.
Generally I make 5cm macarons but because of what the tower can hold, I have started making 4cm macarons. The smaller macarons also fit into the majority of the packaging that is out there for macarons as they are more of a standard size chosen by everyone.
When I made the batch of caramel for these macarons, it wasn’t working quite as well as last time and I couldn’t manage that slightly burnt flavour. However, the result was still pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. The caramel is made from sugar, water, pure cream and salted butter (although I used unsalted butter and added the salt because I generally have bucket loads of unsalted butter in the fridge).
I didn’t get any photos of the caramel making process because you shouldn’t get distracted when playing with boiling sugar because that stuff is like lava. You heat the sugar and water over a medium heat until it turns a light brown caramel colour. Then, very carefully and a small amount at a time, add the pure cream and gently stir it with a spatula. When the cream is added, the mixture bubbles so take care. Once the cream is all added, continue to heat the mixture until it reaches 108°C then remove from the heat and stir/whisk in the butter until the caramel is nice and smooth.
Pour the finished caramel into a heat proof bowl and set aside to cool completely, where it will also thicken.
Once it has thickened, you can certainly pipe this caramel straight onto the macaron shells. It didn’t seem like enough to go around in my test batch so I whipped some butter and incorporated the caramel in to make a light and fluffy filling.
Given I like to top my macaron shells with something pertaining to the flavour (rose petals, fruit tingles or popcorn), I was contemplating whether to place some salt flakes on top or whether to maybe pant some of the caramel colour on the shells similar to these ones. In the end I decided they looked quite nice plain and left them at that.