How Daring Bakers Nearly Destroyed Me — Salted Caramel Macarons

Salted Caramel Macarons
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Serves: 12
 
Even with a great recipe, these take practice, but are worth perfecting. Shells are from Tartelette, Salted Butter Caramel Sauce is from Smitten Kitchen.
Ingredients
For the Macarons:
  • 90 g egg whites (about 3), left out for 2-3 days (egg whites don't spoil the way the yolks do) or "aged" in the microwave for 10-15 seconds (ideally, egg whites should be almost liquid).
  • 30 g granulated sugar
  • 200 g powdered sugar
  • 110 g almond flour or almond meal
  • 1 tsp ground lapsang souchong tea (this was my favorite flavor of the ones I tried)
For the salted butter caramel filling:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) salted butter
  • Additional pinch salt
  • ½ cup heavy cream, at room temperature
Instructions
For the Macaron Shells:
  1. Combine tea, almonds and powdered sugar in the food processor and pulse until finely ground and no lumps remain in the powdered sugar.
  2. In the standing mixer with the balloon attachment, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add granulated sugar, and beat until meringue is stiff. I mean REALLY stiff. If you're not sure, beat a couple of seconds more. Are they stiff enough? Good.
  3. With a rubber spatula, fold in ⅓ of the almond sugar mixture, using quick, firm, strokes. You want to break up the meringue in this step -- don't be too gentle! Add remaining almond mixture, ⅓ at a time, and use gentle strokes to fold it it until all almonds are incorporated, no lumps of meringue remain, and the mixture is the texture of chilled honey -- when you drop a teaspoonful of the mixture on top of the rest of the batter, it should take 30-60 seconds to disappear and be reincorporated.
  4. Using a pastry bag or a ziploc with the corner cut off, pipe the meringues into 1 inch circles on parchment paper. I found this not particularly difficult to eyeball, even though I'm not a piper, but if you're worried about it, you may want to trace circles onto the parchment first. Remember, you want some consistency so you can match them up in sandwiches.
  5. Let air dry for 45-60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake for
  6. to 20 minutes
For the Caramel Sauce:
  1. Melt the sugar over medium heat in a saucepan where you can see the color. (For tips on making a dry caramel, see
  2. Pastry God David Lebovitz
  3. Whisk the sugar as it melts to ensure it heats evenly. When the sugar is a lovely dark copper color and you can smell that it smells adequately caramelized, turn off the heat, add the butter all at once, and stir it in. Then add the cream, stir to incorporate, and store in glass jars in the refrigerator.
  4. This will make more than you need for macarons, but really, you'll thank me, because it's heaven over ice cream or apples or pears or ...

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