I can’t stay away from caramel. Not necessarily eating it, but baking with it. Okay, yes, I eat it too. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating;one of the most fascinating things about baking is how you can literally take a few ingredients and come up with something amazing. Caramel is one of those examples. If you have never made homemade caramel you must give it a try. Try my salted caramel recipe. Sugar, water and cream and you have caramel. You may have noticed I have a lot of posts with caramel. I could write a cookbook just with caramel recipes alone. Hmmm, might have to think about that….Anyway, here is yet another caramelicious post. I wanted to make extra-large caramel macarons to use for ice cream sandwiches. I’m planning on filling these with heath bar ice cream. Pralines and cream ice cream would be good too. You could also make regular size macarons and fill with salted caramel, caramel buttercream or vanilla buttercream.
Caramel Shards waiting to be turned into powder
(yield: ~ 24 large macarons)
200 gms almond flour, sifted
200 gms confectioners sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp. “caramel powder” see recipe below*
75 gms egg whites
200 gms granulated sugar
50 gms water
75 gms egg whites (room temp)
pinch of cream of tartar
*Caramel Powder: Line a sheet tray with either Silpat or lightly greased tin foil. In a 2 quart saucepan place 1/4 Cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Swirl the pan to combine while the sugar melts. Bring to a boil without stirring over high heat; swirl the pan every so often until the caramel reaches a medium-deep amber. If the caramel starts to smoke slightly it is done; pour out onto prepared sheet and let cool completely. The “caramel” will be clear. Once cool, break the caramel into shards and blend into a powder using a mortar and pestle or a food processor.
1. In a large bowl combine the almond flour, confectioners sugar and caramel powder. Add the 75 gms of egg whites and stir to combine. Set aside.
2. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine 75 gms of egg whites and the cream of tartar and begin whipping them on medium-high speed.
At the same time combine the 200 gms of granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan on high heat; bring to 240° without stirring while whipping the egg whites on your mixer simultaneously. You want the cooking sugar syrup to reach 240 degrees at the same time your whites reach stiff peaks. To time this; keep the stand mixer next to the stove so you can peek at the whites while still watching your cooking syrup. If you notice the whites starting to get too stiff before the sugar is done; slow down the mixer to low speed.
3. Once the syrup is at 240 degrees, stop/take off the heat and start pouring the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl slowly with the mixer running on slow-medium at the same time; careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk to prevent hard syrup forming. Once all the syrup is in, crank up the mixer and whip the whites until very glossy and stiff.
4. Take the whipped meringue and place on top of the almond mixture and start to fold gently until all of the meringue is incorporated; careful not to deflate the mixture. You are looking for a thick consistency like lava. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip and pipe the cookies on parchment lined sheet trays; leaving at least an inch space between cookies. Take the trays and rap them hard on the counter to release any air bubbles. Let the trays sit out anywhere from 30-60 minutes; as long as it takes until when you touch the top of the cookies they are dry and no longer tacky to the touch.
5. Bake the cookies double panned (placing one empty tray underneath the piped cookies) one tray at a time in a 325° oven for about 16-18 minutes until the cookies are no longer wet on the bottom and appear dry. Sacrifice one if you have to test. Let the cookies cool. Sandwich with the filling of your choice. If you are using a filling other than ice cream, store the cookies in the fridge covered loosely for 8 hours or overnight; this helps the cookies become even more chewy as the moisture from the filling helps the texture of the cookie.