One of my beautiful friends is getting married soon, and I have been enlisted to make some of the macarons for her favours. She bought favour boxes online, but as it happened they were not the size she had envisaged - too long and narrow for normal sized macarons. No problem, I told her. We can pipe out macarons any size. So, this weekend I set out to make some macarons for Christmas, and try out the timing and temperature for these little babies.
So, we printed out a piping template of 3cm circles, and set out to make two flavours; caramel and fresh raspberry buttercream.
The caramel batch went all to plan, business as usual…
My new silicon baking mats were quite good for macarons - their ability to stay in place while piping was very much appreciated.
For the filling, I went serious with my salted caramel. Unlike my previous buttercream, this was going to be sticky, thick and that killer balance of sweet and salty.
250g caster sugar
200g salted butter
salt flakes to taste (I used approximately 2 tablespoons)
Caramelise the sugar with the water in a saucepan over medium heat. It should be a light caramel colour, not too dark.
Stir the cream in gradually, preventing the sugar from cooking further. Try not to panic as it gets all excited and frothy.
Take its temperature, and take it off the heat when it gets to 108C
Add the butter in small pieces and stir until smooth.
Refrigerate for an hour or so, so that it thickens enough to fill the macarons.
These are fabulously delicious. Crunch, smooth, sweet, salt…mmm nom.
Now, the raspberry ones were quite another story. These little beasts started off well. We bought a kilo of homegrown fresh raspberries out of the back of a car. Sigh, I love summer.
However, my shells were a bit doomed from the beginning. Firstly, I tried to make purple out of blue and red colouring. It became quite weird and grey, was rescued by the addition of a fair bit more red, and was then darkened again by the baking. The second tray worked better, as I reduced the temperature and increased the time by a bit. 12 or 13 minutes on 140C for these, and 11 to 12 minutes on 150 for the caramel.
That wasn’t the worst of it, though. I had some strange delusion that I could make two batches of meringue in a row, using the same unwashed bowl. Ha! No. Always use clean, try utensils if you expect your egg whites to form peaks.
Next, I ended up whipping the egg whites too much - until they started to break off and dry out. That freaked me out enough to slightly overheat the sugar. The meringue worked out alright this time, but there were sugar crystals in the mix that made the piping extremely difficult (they got stuck in the nozzle continually).
As much as it damaged my peace of mind, they still worked out fine.
For my filling, I used my Mum’s buttercream recipe.
240g caster sugar
6 Tbsp warmed fresh raspberries
Cream butter and sugar, then gradually add the raspberry until incorporated.
This is very easy to work with compared with some of the buttercream recipes I’ve used for macarons, ready to fill immediately!
It is also smooth and fresh, deliciously raspberry. The flavour isn’t quite intensely fruity enough for me (compared to a fistful of the pure, unadulterated berries themselves), but I’ll work on that.