Monday, April 20, 2015

Salted Caramel And Dark Belgian Chocolate Macarons

It's so much fun getting creative with macaron making because the filling options really are limitless. This is my third take on a salted caramel macaron, having already made straight up salted caramel and salted caramel spiked with coffee, and I have no doubt there will be more versions to come.

Besides the flavor of the dark Belgian chocolate which is in my opinion enhances pretty much everything, I like the texture of the firm set chocolate layer against the creamy salted caramel buttercream. That, combined with the crunch and chewiness of the macaron shell makes this macaron extra special.  After a taste, my husband told me this was his new favorite flavor, but of course with my macaron making addiction, there will be more to come...

Here's the recipe:

Salted Caramel And Dark Belgian Chocolate Macarons
180g ground almonds, sifted
270g powdered sugar, sifted
150g egg whites, aged 2 to 4 days in the fridge and then brought to room temperature
100g granulated sugar

Line four heavy baking sheets with good quality parchment paper and set aside. Also, set aside two pastry bags for the piping of the macarons.

Sift together your ground almonds with the powdered sugar and set aside.

Whisk the egg whites (at room temperature) to glossy firm peaks adding the granulated sugar gradually in four parts.

Incorporate the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites using a large rubber scraper.  Mix well.

Fold the mixture with the rubber scraper by pulling down the sides and flipping the mixture over. Do this until you have a smooth mixture that falls like a “ribbon” off the scraper.

Transfer the mixture into the two piping bags. Use rubber bands to close the piping bags. Clip the tip of the bags, one at a time, and pipe small quarter sized rounds, leaving 1-inch of space between each because they spread as they set.

Leave to set for about 30 minutes or until the top has formed a crust and is not sticky to the touch. 
While they are setting, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. A convection oven is preferable. 

Bake one sheet at a time in the center of the oven for about 12 minutes or until the cookie is firm, matte and doesn't wobble when touched.

Leave them on the baking tray until cool then lift them all off the parchment carefully. You may need to use a thin knife to help lift them off.

Sort into pairs and fill with Salted Caramel Buttercream and Dark Chocolate.

Salted Caramel Buttercream
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup salted caramel sauce
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Whip the butter until it is smooth and light. Add the caramel sauce and salt and whip again until light and creamy. Transfer it to a piping bag for the filling of the macarons. 

Dark Belgian Chocolate Filling:
(note: make this only when your macarons are sorted, flipped over and all ready for filling. Once you melt the chocolate, there's no time to waste, you've got to be ready to go.)

You'll need 1 1/4 cups of Belgian chocolate chips. I prefer the Callebaut brand. 
Place 1 cup of the chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Remove from the microwave and stir. Keep microwaving for 10 to 20 second sessions and stirring between them until the chocolate is melted. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of chips until they are completely melted. This method is called seeding and is a quick way to temper chocolate. 
Let the chocolate cool for a minute before transferring to a piping bag.

To Assemble:

Sort your macarons into pairs and flip both over. Starting with the chocolate, pipe a dollop on the back of one macaron from each of the pairs. Don't go too close to the edge or it will spill over. Let the chocolate firm and cool for about 10 minutes before proceeding.

Add a dollop of salted caramel buttercream to the remaining macarons and sandwich the pairs carefully together. Don't press to hard or the chocolate will flow out and make a mess.
Filling the macarons. I let the chocolate set for about 10 minutes before adding the buttercream and sandwiching the cookies together. If you rush this process, the warm chocolate will melt the buttercream, spill out and make a mess.

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