These little mouthfuls of Parisian gastronomy are without a doubt the most beautiful, mouthwatering and delectable patisserie that would even make a botoxed WAG smile. Strangely, my first taste of these delights was in a cafe in L.A whilst I was traveling and was without doubt the best I’ve had. I love to cook these on a sunny afternoon when there is nothing else to do and I have all the time in the world. Although no matter how much I concentrate, I’ve never reached the standards of my first experience. If you’ve never sampled a macaroon before, I suggest doing so before trying your hand at them but make sure you find a proper cafe in London (or if you want to be extreme- Paris) and do NOT buy the pre-boxed ones found in Waitrose- they are hard and dry!
There is so much scope for experimentation using different colours, flavours and fillings! I’ve made flavours such as pistachio, lime and basil, coffee, salted caramel, coconut, amaretto, Pimms and strawberries and cream. These little delights remind me of my oldest friend so this recipe is dedicated to Miss Rhi Nokes…
Salted caramel Macaroons
- 175g icing sugar
- 125g ground almonds
- 3 large free-range egg whites
- 75g caster sugar
- 125g caster sugar
- 80ml double cream
- 1/2tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 160g salted softened butter
- 200g icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a couple of baking trays with parchment
- Place the icing sugar and ground almonds in a food processor and blitz until fine, then sieve into a large bowl
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl with a pinch of salt to form soft peaks. Then spoon in the caster sugar bit by bit and whisk until glossy (If you want to experiment, add the colouring and extracts here e.g. peppermint, rosewater, coffee, lime, almond etc)
- Fold in half the almond/icing sugar mixture, using as few folds as possible. Then fold in the remaining half until you have a loose mixture
- Using a good quality piping bag with a 1cm round nozzle, fill with the mixture and stick the parchment to the trays using a small bit. Then pipe round and consistent circles onto the parchment (about 2.5cm wide) leaving room between.
- Lift the tray about a ft from the work surface and drop sharply or tap sharply onto the counter to establish a good base to the mixture. Then leave them for 15 minutes to allow the surface to dry.
- Then place in the oven for 15 minutes until they can be easily peeled away from the parchment but are not too dry and crispy. Leave to cool
- Meanwhile make the filling. Mix the caster sugar with 5tbsp of water and heat to dissolve the sugar. Then increase the heat and bubble for 2-3minutes until the mixture turns caramel colour and thickens.
- Quickly remove from the heat and add the cream, vanilla and salt (Careful as the hot sugar may splutter) Allow to cool.
- Beat the icing sugar and butter together and mix in the cooled caramel
- When the macaroon halves have cooled, pipe a generous amount of buttercream onto one halve and sandwich together with another halve
- Then devour them all
PS. You can use any macaroon recipe you find. I have used the French meringue technique here by adding sugar to the egg whites. However, I have also tried the Italian way by adding the sugar as a hot syrup. Both were pretty similar in their outcome!