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The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s TheLast Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Macarons. A word that will simultaneously put joy and fear into the heart of any home baker. I was excited to hear that this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge – I’ve made them before, but lost the pictures before I had a chance to post them. I’ve been looking for another excuse to make them. I chose to make chocolate cookie with a salted caramel filling.

In the US, people often confuse French Macarons with macaroons – a cookie made primarily of coconut. Although macaroons are also delicious, they don’t even begin to compare to the beauty that is a macaron. Macarons are a sandwich cookie made of almond flour that is combines with sugar and egg white. The texture is a combination of crispy and chewy, with a crispy outer shells that gives way to a soft meringue center. The cookies are sandwich together, often with ganache, caramel, or fruit preserves.

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Macarons are notoriously difficult to make, and I know a lot of people that consider them to be the “Holy Grail” of homemade treats. The cookies are pretty finicky, but with a few tips and tricks and a little practice they really aren’t that difficult to make. I’m going to be honest though – I really didn’t like how this recipe came out. The final product tasted wonderful, but they were a little soft and didn’t get the proper “feet” on the bottom that they are supposed to get. I’ve made another recipe that I find much easier. I promise that I will make another batch with that recipe and post it soon.

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Chocolate Macaron with Salted Caramel

  • 2.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 5 eggs white at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 recipe salted caramel

Preheat the oven to 200.

Combine the powdered sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl.

Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

Sift one third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. Add the cocoa powder. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients. The ingredients won’t seem like they are coming together at first, but they will. The final batter should “flow like magma.”

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip. You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.

Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners or parchment paper.

Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375. Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.

Cool on a rack before filling with the salted caramel.