Monday, 22 February 2010

Salted Caramel Macarons

My first three attempts at macarons were pretty disastrous. Even looking back at the photos is making me cringe at how bad they were! My first go at a recipe from the Ottolenghi cookbook also entered into the "FAIL" category. I saw a few other blogs having success with the Ottolenghi macaron recipes, so I decided to remedy two fails with one baking session.

I had some egg whites already aging in the fridge, but I enjoyed weighing out 60g of them. I love doing everything by weight, mainly because I can't be bothered to get jugs and spoons out and create extra washing up. I don't know how Americans cope with cups. Have you ever tried scraping out peanut butter from the corners of a measuring cup so you can use it to scoop out another ingredient? It's lame. Buy a scale! Then you can just dump everything in one bowl!

A major problem with my last bunch of macarons was the lumpy mixture. They tasted ok, but macarons are meant to look a little bit pretty too. I don't have a food processor, so I gave the ground almonds and some of the icing sugar a bit of a bash around in a pestle and mortar before sifting them through a fine sieve.

I was also more confident about what the batter was meant to look like. It should be sturdy enough to pipe without running in to one big puddle, but soft enough that it will smooth down in to domes when left. After very carefully folding the sugar and almonds in to the whipped egg whites, it was obvious that the mixture was too stiff, so I got to give it a couple of good beats to get it down to a softer consistency.

After I'd piped all the macarons and topped them with some chopped peanuts, they sat by the radiator for a bit to form a skin while the oven preheated. In they went for 8 minutes, when I checked them to see if they were browning too fast.

Salted caramel and peanut macarons

YAY! While they were still underdone, every single macaron had a smooth topped dome, and some impressive looking feet. Another 4 minutes in the oven had the shells nicely starting to brown, and me dancing around the kitchen in triumph.

Finally with feet and smoothness!

Although I think that cooking is about making something that tastes good, there is always an element of presentation that I've struggled with. I don't have the patience to spend hours making things look perfect when all I want to do is eat them! So although my macarons had good feet and smooth tops, some of them were more ovoid that circular, so not a complete success, but good enough for me.

Once the shells were cool, I sandwiched them together with dulce de leche spiked with crushed peanuts and sea salt. I should have chopped the peanuts smaller and thickened the caramel more, as it was a bit oozy, and some of the larger peanuts made the macarons sit wonkily.

The smell when I opened the tin I'd stored them in was amazing, although I was a little disappointed that the peanut flavour wasn't that strong when it came time to taste them. However, after leaving them for 48 hours the flavours intensified, but the macarons lost a bit of their crunchiness. I would probably use more peanut next time to get the flavour and the texture.

The recipe is copied out here for your delectation.


Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Well done! I had final success with the Ottolenghi recipe after over 10 failed batches previously although I mainly put this down to using caster sugar instead of icing sugar by mistake. I still pray they will work next time though.

Lovely looking feet!

Chele said...

Well done. They look pretty perfect to me!

Joy said...

They are SO beautiful! And just quietly, I think I would prefer the peanut butter flavour to be subtle!

Sasa said...

Know what you mean abut fiddling - I just want to get it in my gob - maybe not such a good trait in a blogger ;P

Jenny said...

Sarah - Thanks! I was literally dancing around I was so happy to finally get something that looked vaguely professional! Also reading all your attempts has made me feel like macarons are a deadly mountain of kitchen failure!!!

Chele - Thank you :D

Joy - I don't have a very sensitive palate so I like strong flavours! I am trying to train it up to be more refined though.

Sasa - I don't blog half the things I plan to as I eat them before I can take pictures! Bad blogger!

Lizzie said...

Excellent work. I went to a macaron class and I'm still too scared to attempt them at home. Yours look delicious.