Don’t be afraid of making macarons. My Cardamom Macarons with Sea Salt Caramel Buttercream are a great place to start.
The first time I made macarons, they turned out perfectly. Perfect shell, incredible feet, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. I thought for sure I was an expert baker and that I could scratch macarons off of my challenging-to-bake list.
That’s what I get for thinking so highly of my baking abilities.
Every time since then, I’ve been unable to make a macaron. They have been horrible and I almost gave up completely. They are kind of finicky to make and I knew that I couldn’t let a little cookie get the best of me. I found myself with an empty house, a few hours to kill, and a jar of leftover caramel sauce. I did a little troubleshooting and gave them another go. I decided on Cardamom Macarons with Sea Salt Caramel Buttercream filling.
This time, I’m happy with how they turned out. Are they perfect? Nope. But I wouldn’t be embarrassed to serve these to anyone. And they tasted incredible. William told me that these are the best cookies he’s ever had. And he eats a lot of cookies.
So what made them work this time?
1. I aged my egg whites for a few hours. I let them sit out at room temperature for a few hours before I used them. It does something to the protein structure from what I read. You can do this up to 2 to 5 days ahead of time and keep them in the fridge with plastic wrap on top that has a few holes in it. Let them come to room temperature before using.
2. I weighed everything in grams using a kitchen scale. My daughter and I have become big fans of Cupcake Jemma and when we bake her recipes, we use a scale because she is British. I have really started to like baking this way. It’s easy to clean up and so much more accurate.
3. I used the Italian meringue method. You make a sugar syrup and whip that with the whites. It makes a stable and consistent structure for the shells.
4. I read and paid attention to the instructions in Les Petits Macarons. This book is a great resource for making all kinds of macarons. And step-by-step pictures to follow along with. It’s $11 and if you want to learn to make macarons, I recommend it highly.
5. I typically have 10 things going at once in the kitchen when I am baking. I just worked on this and was single-minded. I listened to an audiobook, and enjoyed the process. It actually was very relaxing.
So the thing about making macarons is that you do need some equipment and it uses a TON of bowls.
Bowls = dishes. (I feel like my life revolves around my dishwasher.)
You need to pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor. Push them through a sieve. Cook the sugar to a specific temperature so you need a candy thermometer (I use a Thermopop and it is the best. A little expensive, but worth it, I use it all the time). Whip the egg whites with a mixer. Pipe the macarons using a round tip on parchment or a Silpat. Most people that bake a lot have these things, but if you don’t you might want to get them before you try these.
These guys have nice feet. I should have mixed them more to have a smoother shell. I’m happy with these though, and like I said, not perfect macarons, but tasty.
I had some leftover sea salt vanilla bean caramel sauce so I made a half batch of buttercream to fill the shells. It worked perfectly with the cardamom and cinnamon. I love cardamom and don’t think that it gets enough love. I will be making these again very soon.
Don’t be scared of macarons. My Cardamom Macarons with Sea Salt Caramel Filling are not hard if you follow the steps. Use a kitchen scale for accurate measurements.
- 165 grams almond flour
- 165 confectioners sugar
- 5 grams ground cardamom
- 3 grams cinnamon
- pinch sea salt
- 115 grams egg whites, room temperature
- 3 grams cream of tartar
- 150 grams sugar
- 57 grams water
- flaked sea salt
- half batch Sea Salt Caramel Buttercream
- Add almond flour, confectioners sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 4 times for 3 seconds at a time. Scrape the bowl in between pulses.
- Sift through a mesh strainer into a large bowl. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks are formed, about 2 minutes. (Reduce the speed to low if the egg whites are are ready before syrup.)
- While the eggs are whipping, add the sugar and water to a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until a candy thermometer reaches 235°.
- Pour the sugar syrup slowly into the running mixer (make sure it is on a very low speed).
- Whisk until stiff peaks form, the meringue will be glossy and lukewarm, about 4 minutes, being careful to not overwhip. To check to make sure you are at the right stage, hold the bowl upside down, it should not slip in the bowl.
- Move the almond mixture to the sides of the bowl, making a well in the center. Add the egg whites into the center. With a rubber spatula stir the egg whites from the center in a circular motion. The egg whites will pick up the dry ingredients, it takes about one minute to get it all incorporated. Fold in a J-shape 6-8 times.
- Add to a large piping bag fitted with a large round tip (I use 1/2-inch). Pipe onto a Silpat or 2 baking sheets lined with parchment.
- I hold the bag straight on top of where I am going to pipe and press until you reach the desired size. Release, lift, and move onto the next circle.
- Drop the baking sheets onto the counter. Really give it a good slam. It will release the air bubbles and get rid of any little tails that might not have settled. (If you still have some, dip your finger in a teensy bit of water and gently press it down.) Sprinkle half of the shells with sea salt.
- Bake in a preheated 200° oven for 15 minutes to dry out the shells. Increase the temperature to 350° and bake for another 9 minutes. The foot and edges should feel firm, and you can lift them off the parchment with a little effort.
- Slice the paper or Silpat onto a wire rack and let cool completely, about an hour. Pipe salted caramel buttercream onto half of the shells. Top with remaining shells.
- To store keep the macarons (filled or unfilled) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. You can also freeze them for up to a month. Wrap carefully in groups of 6 and put them into a container so they don’t get crushed.
To store keep the macarons (filled or unfilled) in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. You can also freeze them for up to a month. Wrap carefully in groups of 6 and put them into a container so they don’t get crushed.
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