Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Macaron Caramel au Beurre Salé

OK everyone, here it is. I'm sharing my recipe for Macaron Caramel au Beurre Salé. FINALLY! It is absolutely, without a doubt, my favorite flavor. The recipe is my adaptation - based on two very good sources: (1) The Pierre Hermé Macaron book, and (2) Chef Thierry Jamard, our pastry chef teacher at Ecole Ferrandi. Without further adieu, here we go:

But wait, what is a Macaron anyway?
I somehow feel a need to answer this question first! Not everyone knows what a macaron is, right? How to explain? Well, it's a specialty cookie that apparently has roots in Italy but it is definitely a "Paris thing", and the macaron madness is quickly spreading around the world. Simply put, it is a small round almond cookie sandwich with a filling (often a ganache, but confitures and other fillings can be used, such as caramel butter cream which is explained here). The original macaron is small in size, but they can also be made large, stuffed with fruit and used in a multitude of ways. And a french macaron is not to be confused with what we call in the States a macarOON (the latter being the coconut cookie).

This is a macaron...
And now, let's get started.

List of special materials & ingredients you need:
  1. Piping bag & tip size 11 mm
  2. Copper pan or other solid pan for making a good caramel
  3. A Kitchen Aid or other mixer. This piece of equipment will get you the most professional results, but good old-fashioned whisking will do as a substitute (be prepared for an intense work-out!).
  4. Poudre d'amande (ground almonds) - you can't make these without it.
  5. A tamis, or sift, for sifting the ground almonds & powdered sugar.
  6. The cookies themselves are colored and flavored with two ingredients: yellow food color and coffee extract. If you can't buy the coffe extract, I would take a couple of double espressos & reduce it until it's thickened. Then, it's "winging it" as far as quantity goes. You can do without these, of course, and end up with a nice macaron but the color will be dull and that "je ne sais quoi" taste will be missing (the coffee enhances the caramel but you don't taste it per se...)
  7. Thermometer

There are 3 parts to this recipe: The cookie, the filling, the assembly. You can do these in stages over a couple of days, if you don't feel like spending 2-3 hours at a time to do it all at once. Yes, these are labor intensive & time consuming...but oooohhhh so worth it!

Yield: 70 - 90 macarons (depending on the size you make)

The Cookie Recipe & Instructions

I've also broken down the cookie recipe into 3 parts:
Part A - Almonds & Egg Whites
Part B - The Italian Meringue
Part C - Mixing A+B and Cooking the cookies

Mis-en-Place: (1) Line cookie sheet with either parchment paper or Silpat, (2) Put piping tip into piping bag (3) Pre-heat oven to 180°C.

Part A - Almonds & Egg Whites
300 g ground almonds
300g powdered sugar
Sift these & put into a large bowl. Mix well. Set aside.

110g egg whites
15 g yellow food color
15 g coffee extract
Weigh & stir these in another bowl. Set aside & proceed to Part B.

Part B - The Italian Meringue
300g sugar (castor)
75g water
90 g egg whites

Weigh the whites into the bowl of your KitchenAid with whisk attachment. Heat sugar & water in a pan ultimately to 118°C. However, when the temp reaches 115°C, you will turn on your KitchenAid to start whisking the whites on medium speed. When you reach 118°C back in the pan, the whites should be at a medium peak stage. S-l-o-w-l-y (I mean slowly!) pour the hot sugar/water mixture into the bowl of the KitchenAid while it is whisking. Continue whisking until the temperature comes down to 50°C. While the KitchenAid is mixing proceed to Part C.

Italien Meringue at 50°C

Part C - Mixing A+B & Cooking them

From Part A, add your egg whites to the ground almond & powdered sugar bowl & stir.

Once the Italian Meringue from Part B is ready, fold it gently into the mixture from Part A (shown above). Put into a piping bag & pipe out small circles (not too close because they spread a little while cooking). You can cook them immediately 12-14 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. Can be frozen like this for later use. The size of my cooked cookie is between 3.5-4cm (around 1.5 inches).

The Filling Recipe & Instructions

Mis-en-place: (1) Put tip into piping bag, (2) Take butter & cream cheese out of the fridge hours before you will use them for the filling.

300 g castor sugar (or as fine as you have), weighed directly into copper pan
335 g crème liquide (called whipping cream in the USA), weighed directly in another pan
65 g beurre demi-sel (salted butter)
170g regular butter
120g cream cheese (Philedelphia)
  1. Make a good caramel with the first 3 ingredients: caramelize the sugar "dry", ie, pour about 50g of sugar into a copper pan (or other pan) & heat until completely melted. It'll turn a light brown color. Add another dose of 50g sugar & stir with a wood spoon (or heat-proof spoon) until melted. Repeat until all of the sugar is used. Careful not to overcook & burn the caramel -- it happens fast. For beginners, I think it's best to take it slowly & to cook on lower heat. It takes longer to do but it's almost fail-proof this way. And you need to stay at the stove the entire's too sensitive.

  2. Towards end of the caramel cooking, heat the cream to a boil.

  3. Remove pan with caramel from the heat & add the butter, taking care not to get burned from any bubbling projections that may arise here. (Seriously.) Add the hot whipping cream & stir. (Again,be careful - it gets bubbly). Put back on stove & heat to 108°C. Pour into a flat pan (brownie sheet or something like this). Let cool slightly & then put a layer of film on top of the caramel & let cool completely; put in fridge until it is cold, or store in fridge until ready to use.

    Pouring cream into caramel...and taking a picture at the same time...what I won't do for you guys!

  4. Weigh softened butter & cream cheese in the bowl of your KitchenAid with whisk attachment. Whisk on med speed 4-8 minutes. The texture will become light & fluffy yet will hold its form. The butter lightens in color. Add half the caramel & whisk until incorporated. Add the rest of the caramel & whisk. Careful not to over whisk it.

  5. Immediately put the filling into piping bag with tip #11. Either use immediately or refrigerate for later use.

The Assembly

Mis en place: (1) If you have stored the caramel butter cream filling in the fridge, bring it to almost room temperature before using (1-2 hours).

Now, the fun part! Pipe a generous amount of the caramel butter cream filling into one cookie (the inside part). Top with the other cookie shell.

The assembly is the best part, because after that, it's time to test...

Just as it should be: a cookie with a slight hardness that gives into a moistness, with an explosion of caramel in the middle. Enjoy!



FamiLee said...

Hello, I am an American too. I found your blog today searching for fresh pumpkin pie. I love it. Thanks for creating!

girlcookinparis said...

Hi FamiLee! Thanks for your message, and thanks for visiting! Hope to see you again!


lgettings said...

Hi Diane, it's Lisa. I'm so glad you posted this as I'm totally going to make them. But I just sold my pastry bag at my yard sale! Such is life when you are in the midst of moving!

girlcookinparis said...

Hi Lisa, I hope you get settled soon! I've moved so many times in my life, I've lost count! I know what you're saying about the yard sale! Isn't that always the case?! diane

Loodianna said...

Hi Diane,this is the first time i post a comment in a blog and i want to thank you for this amazing recipe which i'm gonna try this week but i have a question about baking the macarons immediately after piping, is this the way you made the Macaron Caramel au Beurre Salé or you let it rest for a while before baking?.. THANK YOU !

girlcookinparis said...

Hi Loodianna, Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your leaving me a message! Wow, I feel honored to be the first blog you've left a comment on!

To answer your question, I've done it both ways. I've piped them & popped them straight in the oven....I've also let them rest for 30 minutes to form a crust (they've sat long enough if you touch the top & it doesn't stick). Both ways have worked, but I've been told that if you let it rest before baking, you'll get that nice looking "foot" on the biscuit. Good luck & let me know how it turns out!

Anonymous said...

Hi Diane,

Thanks for your macaron recipe, I love the idea of the coffee extract and love the caramel filling. I've recently started making macarons, and so far have had mediocre success, they taste great, look is less appealing, and overall, they are a far cry from my favorite macarons from Miette (San Francisco Ferry Building)let alone macarons from Ladure, which I tried only once but will never forget. I do have a question about the part A of your recipe, it's not clear to me whether you just mix almond powder and sugar mixture with the 110gr egg whites, adding food color and coffee extract, or do you actually beat the egg whites first. This is different from other recipes where there is a meringue (Italian of French), and dry mix of powdered sugar and almond flour. Can you give me a rationale for your part A and B. Also, the mixing of meringue with almond/sugar powder is often emphasized as crucial in many recipes (called 'macaronage'). What's your take on this technique?


girlcookinparis said...

Dear Anonymous, let me try to be clearer!

Part A = almond powder + powdered sugar that is sifted together in one bowl. In another bowl, you put your raw egg whites & coloring/coffee extract that is stirred well. Then, pour this raw egg white mixture into the bowl with sifted almond powder & powdered sugar, and mix well.

Set this aside & make your Italian Meringue (Part B).

Eventually, you will add Part B to Part A, a little at a time.

YES, the macaronage is the most crucial stage! I agree with what you've heard!! These can be fussy little things! In fact, however, each individual step is important in getting a good end result, in my opinion.

(Is this any better or is it still a bit unclear?! Let me know!)

all the best, diane

Gail Haslam said...

Hi Diane! Just found your blog, it's great. I am attempting to make the caramel - but just wanted to double check the measurement for the cream. It's in grammes (g), not mililitres (ml), is that right?


girlcookinparis said...

Hi Gail, Yes. It's in grams. I weigh everything...even liquids! Good luck.

I think you're going to love the caramel. You can use all butter instead of the butter-cream cheese mixture, if you want. And please be careful when making the caramel itself -- when you add the butter, it really does boil rather violently. Same thing when you add the cream! -- diane

Gail said...

Thank you so much - they turned out really well! (plus I had enough filling to make some mini chocolate pies too...) I will link/give you credit when I finally blog about it.


Suzi Cook said...

Hi, I've just made the caramel for the filling and poured it out and it's gone quite hard! I'm so sure I followed everything correctly! And at 108 degrees I poured it out! Is there a way to save it?
Please help! I'm so excited about this recipe!
thank you

girlcookinparis said...

Hi Suzi, Sorry to hear your caramel turned hard - it should be pliable to touch. I wouldn't call it soft since it sets up in the fridge, but you can put your finger on it & push it around normally. I've never had it solidify on me, and I would guess that it has something to do with the cream. In England, I understand creme liquide is called single cream. In the states, it's called double whipping cream. What kind of cream did you use? If you stopped cooking it at 108C, then this is the main factor I can think of (again, it's my guess). I believe the butter also contributes to the creaminess of the caramel...that could be a slight factor as well? Let me know!

Cooking of sugar is it could also be that your thermometer is off?? Try running a test with boiling water & see what temperature it reads. It should say 100C.

Otherwise, if I were you, I would simply start over if your thermometer is good (the cost of ingredients isn't too bad). I'd be inclined to try re-heating the caramel to see if it melts & to see if I could add more cream & then try to re-heat that until it becomes a standard consistency....but that's a lot of ifs, and more effort than simply starting over!!! Let me know what happens next. diane

Suzi Cook said...

Well! I tested my thermometer and it's all good. I'm in Australia, I used just single cream the first time. I just tried it again with double thick cream (almost solid like icecream!) and it's worked perfectly! I've just finished whipping it into my cream cheese/butter mixture and it looks great! Can't say the same for my actual cookies but they're not too bad! thanks heaps for your help! I really appreciate your time!
Suzi :)

girlcookinparis said...

Hi again Suzi, Glad to hear it worked out the 2nd time. Guess we can chalk it up to the cream, then! No matter what they might end up looking like, I find that they always taste good!! :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Diane - an Australian whose husband did a macaron class in Montpellier (all in French!). Class was advised not to use ordinary food colouring - it fades. She used 'zac les pres secs' by Lozanne but not availabe here. What do you suggest?

girlcookinparis said...

Hi Jean, It's true that when you add the food coloring to the batter, the color lightens as it cooks. To compensate for this I will add more coloring to the batter. However, I personally don't like the florescent look, so I try not to go overboard! This takes only a little practice to get the amount right - for a nice coloring.

This happens no matter what type of food coloring you use, based on my experience.

Most home cooks use liquid food colorings. These would be added to the egg whites. I personally use powdered food coloring which has an intensity that can't be beat & used in such minuscule quantities that it doesn't change the balance. I add this to the dry ingredients. You can't even tell it's there until after the liquid (raw egg whites) are added to it.

I haven't heard of 'zac les pres secs'. Would like to learn more about it though! The dry food coloring that I use comes from G.Detou, a store here in Paris that specializes in Pastry & other things. If you can't find this near you, I suggest to go ahead & use has worked for me before I switched over to powdered! Hope this helps. diane

Nat said...

I have tried your recipe and had great success, although my cookies are coming out dull and "rough" looking (not smoothly domed). What could I be doing wrong? Am I over-mixing the egg whites? Please help. Thanks for sharing!

girl cook in paris said...

Hi Nat, glad to hear your macs turned out well! As for the dull factor you mentioned, it seems to me that this is the result of not mixing enough...Next time I would try stirring the batter longer. Let me know how it works for you. diane

Munak991 said...

Hey girlcookingparis.

I tried the recipe. but im unsure about the temperature. when i bake it start cracking. So may i ask about the temperature you had preheated to bake the macaroons?

Thx, Alric

girlcookinparis said...

Hi - About the cracking, I've seen that happen & it could be due to a hot spot in the oven (because the other rack cooking in the same oven at the same time turned out just fine). You could try reducing the temperature by 10C & see how that works for you. I've started lowering the temperature myself. Also, it may be related to uneven mixing of the batter. It's hard to tell which is the main culprit - which is why making macarons can be so challenging!

Iceman said...

hi Diane
i think i am up to batch 20 but success will be sweet once i get there. Can you clarify the following points:

1. I have seen many recepes that tell you to use old egg whites, but yours doesn't.

2."Medium peak stage"

3. once you have piped out the mixture into small circles, you said that you can cook them immediately. Is it better to leave them out for an hour or so, so they form a soft shell before putting them into the oven.

girlcookinparis said...

Hi Iceman,
1) Yes, actually, there are many people who say to use "old egg whites" (which only means to separate the eggs a day or two & leave them in the fridge until needed). I always seem to have old egg whites in my fridge...but I've also made them straight away and had success. I tend to think that the older egg white *does* do something, but I'm not really sure what or why! There are many myths behind these macarons...hard to tell which are true & which are just superstition! When in doubt, go with old egg whites!

2) Med peak stage ==> for me, it's when the white holds on the whisk & the "beak" falls down just a little. If you go further, to stiff peak stage, the meringue holds even more, but I find that gets too stiff...

3) Actually, you can cook them right away (without letting them rest on the counter) if you use this type of recipe (with the Italian meringue). If I don't have time, I put them straight in the oven and they still come out like they should. If I do have time, then yes, I let them sit on the counter for 15 - 30 minutes before baking, or until the top is dry. Supposedly this helps form the "foot" of the cookie, but that forms even if you put them in straight away....maybe they're slightly better if you let them dry on the counter before baking...hard to tell!

Good luck, hope the 21st is the perfect batch! Hope you let me know!

sperky said...

These look amazing! Just curious... is it blasphemous to ask if you can use frozen egg whites? Thanks so much for sharing this recipe =)

girlcookinparis said...

Hi sperky, Thanks for your comment. No, not blasphemous at all!! It's perfectly fine to use frozen egg whites, and maybe you'll even end up with a nicer macaron (if the myth about using "old egg whites" is true...)! hope they turn out well, diane

sperky said...

Thanks so much Diane, I am excited to try my hand at these! I'll let you know! Have a great weekend =)

Anonymous said...

i'm going to try your recipe tomorrow, but i intend to halve the quantities for a smaller batch. for Part B will the temperatures still be those stated or should i change them somewhat? or for anything else for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Further to that above question, I'd rather use a light filling that doesn't use cream, any suggestions? I also intend to lower the amount of sugar used in later trials, how will that effect my macarons?

girlcookinparis said...

Dear Anonymous,

I hope this response is timely enough! To make half a batch, you still have to cook the water & sugar (Part B) to the same temperature....just use a smaller pan, that's all.

As for the filling, you can use a jam if you like, but just make sure it's thick enough to hold its own in the center of those 2 cookies! Or, you could find other recipes for jelly fillings... I myself wouldn't cut the sugar quantity. It's standard practice to use half powdered sugar & half almond meal for this technique. There is another technique where the ratio is not the same...

Hope they turned out well! Let me know what you ended up doing!


Unknown said...

Hi GirlCookinParis,
thank you for your blog and sharing all those fab recipes!!!
I am desperate to make macarons. I love cooking but never had a chance to maka macarons but I feel the time has come :) could you please explain me in more detail how to make a coffee extract as I couln'd find one to buy. Thank you xx

Wendy said...

Bonjour! I'm so glad I found your blog today! I have been CRAVING macarons since I visited France in June. I had a wonderful strawberry macaron in Avignon that was easily 3 inches in diameter. When I talk about them, no one knows what they are, and I can't find any around here to buy, so I decided I need to learn how to make them! I'm excited to try your recipe! :)

Iceman said...

hi Diane

after giving it a rest for a few months, i thought i tried making it again. This time with the caramel filling. while the shells turned out well, my filling did not.

In step 4 of the caramel filling, am i suppose to whip the cream cheese, soft butter and left over whipping cream. by whipping only the cream cheese and soft butter, i am not getting the same flutty mixture.

Anonymous said...

Hey Iceman , I love your persistance! As for the filling, you can use all butter instead of the butter/cream cheese mixture. If your butter is at room temperature before you start to whip it, and then if you whip it for 6-8 minutes, the texture already should be light & fluffy. The longer you wisk, the lighter in color & fluffier the butter gets. Then, when you add your caramel, it should stay light & fluffy. The texture of the caramel should be somewhat soft before you add it to the butter.

I think it was a good instinct to add whipped cream to try to lighten up the texture, but it really shouldn't be necessary if the butter and caramel are right. (having said that, I imagine it gives it a good flavor!!)

Coincidentally, I just made a batch of these caramel au beurre salé macs a couple of days ago...

Glad to hear your cookie shells turned out nicely - this is the most challenging part of making macs....if you have this part down, there's no stopping you! BTW, I think it must've taken me about 9 months of making them before being able to make a batch that all turned out, and to be able to consistently do that...


Anonymous said...

I normally make french macarons the french meringue way and I made these today and followed your exact recipe. I don't know where I went wrong but they horrible. I tried adjusting the oven temperature (thinking it as the problem) and the same disaster batch after batch.

These are my result:

- Shell too weak and crumples 3 mins after taking them off the oven.

- They had feet.

- Hollow inside

I used liquid coffee extract and liquid food colouring. I believe that's where my fault came as your recipe didn't specify that you use powder or gel types. Shame as it all went to waste and now I feel gutted about the cost.