Mother's Day Recipe: Salted Caramel Macarons

Photo courtesy of Napoleon's Macarons

When it comes to the most challenging recipes, this delicate French confection tops that list for many of us. But Mother's Day might give you that needed push of motivation to tackle it head on -- honing your piping and baking skills will do Mom proud. This recipe courtesy of Napoléon's Macarons yields quite a few macarons, so for extra points, consider arranging them into an elegant Mother's Day macaron tower, or croquembouche.

Salted Caramel Macarons
Makes 50 macarons

Macaron Shell
1 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 cup + 4 tablespoons hazelnut flour
1 cup egg whites, room temperature
A few drops of natural food coloring
1 cup superfine sugar
¼ cup of water

Salted Caramel Ganache Filling
1 ¾ cups heavy cream
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup salted butter
1 ¼ cup milk chocolate (preferably 40%)
¼ cup cocoa butter (or white chocolate)

For the macaron shell: Preheat oven at 350 Ë?F degrees.

Combine the confectioners' sugar and almond flour in a bowl, sifting until evenly mixed. In a separate bowl, combine ½ cup of the egg whites with a few drops of natural food coloring. Pour on top of flour/sugar mixture without stirring. Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the superfine sugar and water, warming on medium heat.

Once the sugar water mixture reaches 215 Ë?F on an instant-read thermometer, pour the remaining ½ cup of egg whites into a separate bowl. Beat at medium speed until soft peaks form, gently stirring the sugar water mixture simultaneously.

When the sugar water mixture reaches 245 Ë?F on an instant-read thermometer, carefully pour, in small portions, on top of the egg whites being beaten. Continue beating on high speed for 2-3 minutes until stiff peaks form, careful not to overbeat the meringue.

Sift the flour mixture over the meringue, folding until the mixture is smooth (but not liquid) and just incorporated.

Pour the batter into a piping bag with a cake icer tip. Pipe out 1.5" inch rounds on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. (Tip: lightly outline your circles with pencil before piping.)

Gently tap your baking sheets on your kitchen counter or working table, letting the piped rounds sit for approximately 20 minutes.

Bake the rounds for approximately 12 minutes; let cool.

For the filling: In a saucepan, heat the heavy cream on medium-high. Once it starts simmering, turn off the heat.

In a separate saucepan or pot, start heating approx. 1/3 of the granulated sugar. When it begins to melt, add another 1/3 of the sugar. When it reaches an amber-brown color, add the remainder of the sugar, mixing with a spatula.

When the sugar reaches a rich, dark brown color, turn off the heat and add the salted butter. Continue stirring with a spatula until the butter is melted.

Pour the cream into the sugar/butter mix in three stages while stirring, making sure it is completely combined with each addition.

Once the sugar, butter and cream is well stirred, pour it over the milk chocolate and cocoa butter (or white chocolate) in a mixing bowl. Begin mixing at high speed.

When the ganache has reached room temperature on an instant-read thermometer, stop mixing and pour it into a wide, flat container (preferably a glass baking dish). Lay plastic wrap over the ganache, making sure there is no air between the two. Let the ganache sit in the refrigerator for approx. 15 minutes.

Remove the ganache from the refrigerator and pour into a standard piping bag. Carefully pipe small balls (approximately the size of a quarter in diameter) of the filling onto 25 macaron shells.

Add the top shells, gently pressing until the filling spreads to the edges of the macarons.

Let the macarons sit for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

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