I did not mean to post another macaron-making round so soon, but these little babies were the absolute biggest hit among my taste-testers. Most of them mumbled an ecstatic “Hmm”, with eyes closed, while savoring each precious bite. They were so good, I made another batch on the same week and they were devoured in no time at all when the “Hungry” Hubby took them to his office.
So what made them so unforgettable? Caramel, butter and fleur de sel – a new spin on salted butter caramel.
It was through Eggy’s blog, Greedy Goose that I found out that there was a Macaron Festival in Singapore. Imagine that! So I scoped out other Singapore-based blogs, and I came across a recipe Caramel Fleur de Sel by Canele’s Chef Pang Kok Keong on Chubby Hubby’s blog. I knew right away that my experiment with other buttercream fillings had to wait – this was just calling out my name so enticingly.
I used my standard macaron batter for the cookies, substituting half the ground almonds with hazelnut. I love the way the skins of the hazelnut speckles the macaron so engagingly.
My only adjustment to the recipe was the way the caramel was made. Most of you know I have an issue with making caramel using the dry method, so I adjusted the recipe for a less daunting way of boiling sugar. Also it was hard to measure exactly 3.75 grams of Fleur de Sel on my scale so I just rounded it to ~ 5 grams.
Caramel Fleur de Sel
Adapted from Chef Pang’s version
200 g sugar
¼ cup water
2 tbs. corn syrup
1 vanilla pod
200 g cream
5 g fleur de sel
140 g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
In a heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil. Once it starts bubbling do not stir. Once the temperature of your sugar reaches 335 F, add in the scrapings of the vanilla pod. Take the saucepan off the heat and add in warm cream a little at a time – it will bubble up and splatter. Then add the fleur de sel. Stir to make sure all the caramel has dissolved. Cool the mixture to approximately 105F. Add in the well-chilled butter, cut into cubes. Using an immersion blender, blend in the butter till you achieve a smooth glossy paste. Line the surface of the caramel with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
I did not include the making of the macarons because I have detailed it in a previous post. Warming the cream first does prevent the caramel from seizing when you add it. If the caramel does clump, return the saucepan to the heat after the cream has stopped sputtering. It is important to add chilled butter and at the temperature specified- it makes for an unbelievably creamy caramel filling when the butter is emulsified properly. I also noticed that the taste of the salt came through only after the addition of the butter. Either the immersion blender dispersed it more evenly or the butter was the optimal vehicle for transporting the flavor of the salt.
I had to exercise a lot of self-control from simply lapping up the caramel cream with a spoon. You never get overwhelmed with the sweetness; the salt perfectly balanced the caramel flavor to a divine indulgence.
On different but related note. Sherry Yard’s new book Desserts by the Yard is now available. I had received an advance copy and had made the chocolate macarons from it but could not post the recipe until the release of the book in case of editing changes. Anyway here is the recipe as promised.
1 cup almond flour
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large egg whites, covered and refrigerated for 3 days and then brought to room temperature
¼ tsp cream of tartar
2 tbs sugar
1 drop red food coloring (optional)
In a food processor, fitted with the steel blade, combine the almond flour and confectioner’s sugar. Pulse a few times, then add the cocoa and pulse a few times more. Pass through a fine sifter, and set aside.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Fit a piping bag with #6 plain tip (I used Wilton #12 because my mixture was to dense).
In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until they begin to foam. Add the cream of tartar and turn the speed to medium. Slowly stream in the sugar and continue to beat to stiff, glossy peaks. Beat in the drop of red food coloring, if using.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the almond mixture into the egg whites until well combined.
Pipe the macarons to the desired size (Sherry used 3 inch disks) and let it sit 2 to 4 hours to develop the skin.
Preheat oven to 300F and bake cookies until no longer tacky when touched lightly. (10- 15 minutes depending on size of macaron)