Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chocolate Macarons w/ salted caramel buttercream

I guess you could call me stubborn. Not all the time. If a friend and I are going to lunch I'll usually let them pick, even if it's not my favorite. But if there's a super hard song on guitar hero that I've failed at 12 times, there's no way I'm giving up & letting Garrett pass it for me (no WAY). Or, if there's a cookie that is notoriously finicky & bakers greater than myself shy away from, you better believe I'm on the quest to perfect. I've tried probably 5 or 6 different recipes and have come up w/ what seems to work best for me, a combination of several recipes/methods.

These are mostly based from the macs on Annie's Eats.

The variation I'll show today half happened as an accident. A batch of caramels never set up but still tasted divine. What to do? Mix it into some butter cream.

Recipe for Chocolate Macarons

200 grams powdered sugar minus 2 T.
110 grams ground almonds (almond meal)
2 T. Cocoa powder
100 grams egg whites (room temp)
50 grams granulated sugar

Pulse powdered sugar, almond meal, & cocoa powder in food processor until combined. You can use blanched, slivered almonds & grind it in your food processor instead of purchasing almond meal. I seem to have trouble getting it fine enough though so I do like the almond meal route.

There are different schools of thoughts on the egg whites. Most blogs I've read say to age the egg whites on the counter for 24 hours before using them. I've tried both ways & seem to do just fine with freshly cracked room temp eggs. I sometimes even cheat by separating the eggs & then warming them up to room temperature by putting the bowl in a sink of warm water .

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites. This can be done w/ a hand mixer (Booo. I'm in this boat because I don't have a KitchenAid) or in a stand mixer (I wish). Beat until quite foamy (30-45 seconds on high speed). Start very slowly adding the granulated sugar. Keep beating until stiff peaks form. If you lay your beater sideways a "beak" should form.

Mix in your dry ingredients by hand. It's a little easier if you do this in 2 batches. You want to deflate the egg whites but not all the way. The batter should look like this. (this photos is from a different day when I was making plain macs).

Put into a piping bag fitted w/ a large round tip. You can do this in a gallon size zip lock bag too if you don't have piping tips, they just won't come out as round. They'll be a touch wonky. Make sure you don't do too many on a sheet or make them too close together. The batter will run some. On a large baking sheet I usually get 6 rows of 4. Make them aprox. 1 1/2 inch circles. I bake them on Silpat baking mats but they can be baked on parchment paper if you don't have Silpats.

Macarons need to rest before they're baked. This helps create the smooth shiny shell & ruffled "feet" on the bottom. Usually a half hour will do but on really humid days they can take longer.

I bake them at 310 degrees for 9-10 minutes. When they come out of the oven place the baking sheet on a wire cooling rack for 5 minutes. Then move the Silpat off of the pan & directly onto the cooling rack. After the cookies have cooled 15 minutes total you should be able to peel them off the baking sheet. Do so CAREFULLY! They can easily get stuck & rip themselves apart. Push from the back of the sheet, don't pull.

You can fill with any type of buttercream, ganache or other filling you like.

I chose a simple (VERY) recipe for this buttercream.

3/4 C. unsalted butter
2 C powdered sugar
1/3 C failed caramel

Beat together until smooth.

Hope you enjoy! If you try these & they don't turn out, don't get down on yourself. Try again. I've had many nasty fails but seem to be getting the hang of it.

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