Salted caramels make great gifts. You can churn them out fairly easily and they travel well. It was my recipe of choice for Christmas gifts last year as hundreds of cookies are a no go when you live so far away.
Doing a test run I learned that caramels are sticky and will stick to everything. Everything.
Leaving caramel on a cutting board without greasing it made a big sticky mess. Putting caramel aside on an unlined ungreased baking dish for just a few moments? Stuck like glue.
When you finally remember that this golden substance will glue itself to everything in sight, the process isn’t that bad.
The most time consuming task is wrapping. You’ll want to cut your pieces of wax paper all at once so you can streamline the process.
There is an addictive quality about these, only a slight amount of chewing is necessary before they melt away in your mouth.
– I took it off the heat a bit earlier (245F) for a softer chew. I found that 257F makes the caramels harder, especially when the temperature continues to rise. An accurate thermometer is a must because it means the difference between “soft” and “syrup”
– I added the salt in with the caramel instead of reserving it for sprinkling on top. I think you can use regular sea salt for the cooking stage and then if you want a little extra, go all out and use the fleur de sel.
After being tortured by beautiful photos of macarons by Tartelette, I finally had a chance to taste them from a place called Moroco. The tops shattered against the teeth and then led to a nice chewy interior. My friend who had tried macarons from Paris noted that these weren’t as sweet. She found the Parisian ones just too sweet for her that she could barely finish one. I sampled a few flavours and found the salted caramel one was my favourite. I really was planning on taking pictures, but I ate them all.
This macaron experience made me want to try making them on my own. I could make hundreds of different flavour combinations and they’re so visually appealing. Dainty and perfect. When I researched more about how to make them, it looked like they were very tricky to make. After looking at a bunch of different sites on the how to make them, I settled on Tartelette’s tutorial. I started off simple and didn’t add any fancy coloured powders or different flavours.
I started the macarons late so I wasn’t the most patient. I don’t have a food processor so I used my hand blender chopper and blended the icing sugar and the ground almonds in batches then whisked it all together. It’s really easy to put together as the ingredients are icing sugar, ground almonds, egg whites, and granulated sugar. It’s the technique that’s the tricky part. You fold the batter and test to see if it’s ready by putting a bit of it on a plate. If it goes flat, it’s good to go. Mine had a bit of a peak, but I couldn’t wait any longer and started piping them. You’re also supposed to wait an hour, but I made them so late in the night I could only wait 30 mins. The first batch turned out lobsided and cracked. My piping job was less than stellar. The second batch where I was more careful I was able to create only a handful of macaron sandwiches. I also let the shells sit overnight which made peeling them off the parchment much easier. If you try and peel away too soon, the macaron crumbles. The shells had the nice crispy shattering effect with a chewy interior and had the “feet” (the rough looking bottom) that people like to see on macarons. I used the leftover neoclassic milk chocolate buttercream as the filling. Straight from the fridge, the shells are a little hard these are best eaten slightly below room temperature so that the buttercream is still firm and tastes kind of like a soft milk chocolate bar. The macarons are also sweet. Movie Man finds them a touch too sweet for him and I can handle 2 at most. They’re best eaten with a strong cup of black tea to temper the sweetness. I think I’ll try reducing the sugar next time and see if that works. I think I read somewhere that increasing the almond flour also reduces the sweetness.
I would definitely try making these again. I think I just need practice to get the desired shape.