3.07.2012

Recipe Box: Buttered Popcorn and Salted Caramel Macarons

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I first tried my hand at making macarons around this time two years ago. Oh oh, what a mess! I just couldn't make them work. Up until that point, baking had always been my ace in the hole. My one true thing. Even if I hadn't mastered a recipe, I was always 100% confident that it would come to me, eventually, with a little practice. And then, after several desperate tries, that confidence turned tail and left me feeling sorry for myself, in a dirty kitchen too. Macarons brought me to my knees.

Back then, I wrote: "After several failed attempts at baking those fancy, airy, buttercream-filled French macarons, I eventually surrendered to the notion that I had finally met my match. Macarons were my Achilles heel. Kitchen Kryptonite. The thought of those perfectly delicious, pastel-hued cookies as being unobtainable, practically mythical in Kentucky, sent me into hysterics. Could I be forever relegated to baking brownies and cupcakes? Could it be that my amateur baking skills top out at petit fours? Is that all I'm good for? I feel like I should be moving forward, but at this rate, I feared my epic failures would send my ass back in retrograde. The next thing you know, I'll be showing up to potlucks with a Pyrex full of dirt cake." 

After a lot of determination, I now have quite a few satisfactory batches of macarons under my belt. Every time I make them, I feel good about myself, like in a fist-pump/I-can-do-anything-sort-of-way. If I'm feeling down, it's the perfect pick-me-up.

If you'd like to try making macarons, but need a few pointers, this article showed me the light.

I spotted these buttered popcorn and salted caramel macarons on Raspberri Cupcakes (original recipe by Eat Show Tell). Steph is a macaron wizard! (Kitty cat macarons, WHAT?!) I love the salty-sweetness of caramel corn, so these are top notch in my book.


Buttered Popcorn and Salted Caramel Macarons
Adapted from Eat Show Tell

Ingredients*:
110 grams almond flour
200 grams confectioners sugar
3 egg whites (aged)
30 grams granulated sugar
1 cup salted, buttered popcorn
1 cup sugar
3 oz butter
Pinch of sea salt (or Fleur de Sel)
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the macarons:

1. 3 days prior to baking, separate the egg whites from the yolks. Place whites in a bowl in the fridge and cover with a cloth or paper towel. (This "ages" the whites.) Before you are ready to bake, bring the whites to room temperature.

2. Sift together the almond flour and confectioners sugar. Set aside. In a food processor, grind the popcorn into small pieces and set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk egg whites till they reach soft peaks. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating at medium speed. Whisk for about 3 minutes, until glossy, stiff peaks form.

4. Add 1/2 of the almond flour mixture. With a spatula, fold in the mixture vigorously for about 30 seconds. Add the rest of the almond flour and sugar and fold at a slower pace, until the mixture is well incorporated. It should be of magma-like consistency, and when you lift the spatula, it should trail a sturdy ribbon of batter.

5. Pipe the mixture onto baking sheets lined with parchment, leaving one or two inches between each shell. Sprinkle each shell with popcorn. Allow them to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

6. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, rotating the pans at the halfway point. When they are done, they should easily peel off from the parchment. (An undercooked macaron sticks to the paper.)

For the caramel:

Before you start, I suggest reading David Lebovitz tips on making caramel.

1. Melt the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. The sugar will begin to turn a warm, caramel color. Whisk occasionally to ensure that it heats evenly.

2. When the caramel is a deep copper color and smooth, remove from heat. Add the butter and whisk until incorporated. (It will sizzle a lot, just keep stirring!) Immediately add cream and stir. Cool at room temperature.

To fill, pipe (or carefully spread) dollops of caramel onto the center of macarons.

*I use a digital kitchen scale to measure the amounts in grams. Or you can try using a conversion calculator online.

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