Friday, 16 March 2012

Salted Peanut & Caramel Macarons

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I have been eager to have a go at making macarons for a long time, but was always really put off by all the horror stories I had heard and read. Today is my only day off this week so I decided to grab the bull by the horns and jump in to making macarons head first! I did a bunch of research last night reading Deepa's and The Pink Whisk's blogs as well as my Ottolenghi cookbook. I decided that I wanted to try the filling in Ottolenghi's book but with the method from The Pink Whisk. I had read in many places that I should age my egg whites so I left them overnight to do their thing. I had to use my tiny food processor which meant blitzing together ground almonds & icing sugar in 2 parts. I ended up with some quite sold lumps of the mixture which I had to break with my fingers so I sifted it twice and left it in a bowl. As this was my first go I tried to be as careful as I could when it came to the folding but I think I did overdo it a bit. I had drawn circles on my greaseproof paper for the piping but I came to realise really early on that they were way too big.

They spread quite a lot and looked a little too flat for my liking but I carried on and sprinkled them with the peanuts (stupidly the whole lot instead of just half) and left them for 30 minutes for the outsides to set. My oven is ridiculously hot so I heated to 130 ready to get baking. Once they went in I kneeling on the floor infront of my oven, shining a torch in checking for the precious 'feet'. When it got halfway through cooking and I decided to turn the tray, knowing how unevenly my oven cooks that was when I discovered disaster! My macarons had spread so much they were touching and to add insult to injury had cracked like mad. I finished cooking them as I still wanted a taste. Whilst they finished off baking I did a little more research and decided that
1. I had piped them too big
2. I had over mixed
3. My oven was too hot, hence the cracking.
I really didn't want to give up there as I had the feeling that otherwise I probably wouldn't attempt them again in the future so I washed everything up and started again using Ottolenghi's recipe.

This time around I didn't have aged eggs so just got going with some I had bought the previous day. These seemed to work fine and as you can see from the following photos I had a much better result the 2nd time around. I'm so glad I didn't give up! I don't think that the Pink Whisk's recipe is wrong I just think that I had learnt my lesson a little from round 1. I piped them a lot smaller, Ottolenghi recommends no bigger than a £2 coin and also left a lot of space in between. The recipe called for a lot more peanuts and caramel than I used so I have reduced the quantities in my recipe.

To make 12 you will need-
Recipe adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook
  • 60g egg whites from free range eggs (around 2 eggs worth)
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 110g icing sugar
  • 10g roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
For the filling
  • 15g roasted peanuts
  • 50g dulce de leche/caramel made from condensed milk
  • A pinch of salt
Pour your egg white and caster sugar into a clean bowl of a stand mixer (or use an electric hand whisk) and whisk on the highest speed until you have a thick but not dry meringue.

Next, sift together the ground almonds & icing sugar into a separate bowl. Add a third of the meringue into it and fold it in really gently until it is all mixed together and then added another third and kept folding and adding till you have used it all up. Fold till you have a 'smooth and glossy' consistency but be really careful not to overdo it as it will cause them to spread lots and be really flat. 

Dot a little of the mixture in the corners of your baking tray to hold the paper down and then using a piping bag with a large round attachment pipe your small circles. (I actually just used my bag with no attachment as mine were all too small. You could also use a sandwich bag with a corner snipped off)

Bang the tray down a couple of times to make the macarons spread and smooth out a little and then sprinkle half of them with the chopped peanuts. Leave to one side for 15 minutes so that they get a little skin over them. Whilst that is happening preheat your oven to 140C fan assisted. If your oven is really hot reduce it further. I baked mine at 120C and for a few minutes longer than instructed.

If baking at 140C bake for around 12 minutes. To check if they're done use a palette knife to check if they easily lift off the paper. If they don't cook for a little long, just be careful not to over cook them though.

Once they're ready remove them from the oven and leave to cool completely. To make the filling just combine the peanuts and caramel together and then add the salt to taste. You want there to be a good balance of salt and sweet.

When the macarons are cool pipe or spoon on a pea-sized amount onto the macaron halves that don't have the peanuts on then place the tops on and gently press them together. Leave them to set for a few hours if you can manage it or just dig in straight away like I did!

I was ao pleased with this batch, that I baked another lot that afternoon to use up the caramel and ensure I had plenty for mothers day. I am feeling really excited about trying out some other flavour combinations very soon!

1 comment:

  1. They look brilliant, so cute! You have good feet :) I love eating them but making them can be super stressful, I need to try one more time!


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