Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Daring Cooks October 2013: French Macarons

In a "celebration" of past Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!

The third challenge I tried was a Daring Bakers challenge again. This one wasn't anywhere near as successful as the previous two and shows that whilst I can cook I am not really a baker! I went home for the weekend at the end of September and with help from my Mum we tried to make French Macarons. They are one of her favourite cakes and she has always wanted to make them. We did use a different recipe to that in the challenge as we couldn't find almond flour anywhere and used ground almonds instead. As we had never made them before and didn't really know what we were doing these didn't turn out quite as intended! Instead of lovely round individual macarons we ended up with a sheet of ground almond meringue. It also helps of you can tell the difference between fahrenheit and centigrade on the thermometer!! They tasted fine but spread out way too much in the baking. We have booked ourselves on a macaron making course in January to see if we can learn how to make them properly!

Salted caramel Macaroons

200g ground almonds
200g icing sugar
80ml water
200g caster sugar
2x80g egg white     
2 drops food yellow food colouring and coffee extract
For the salted caramel
250g icing sugar
80ml water
120g full fat creme fraiche
200g salted butter

The day before prepare the caramel. Over a low heat dissolve the sugar in water. Without mixing them too much, watch the sugar until it turns a light brown colour. Add the creme fraiche little by little mixing with a spatula to stop the caramel cooking. Once the creme  fraiche is well mixed use a thermometer to monitor the temperature. As soon as the caramel  reaches 108 c remove from heat add the butter. Mix or whisk until caramel is smooth. Put in a bowl and leave in fridge.      

Mix then sieve together the ground almonds and icing sugar set aside.    

In a saucepan bring the water and caster sugar to the boil. Without mixing make sure the temperature does not exceed 110C.


Whisk half the egg whites to soft peaks increasing the speed of the whisk once the temperature of the syrup passes 100C. Once the syrup reaches 110C take it off the heat and pour in a thin stream on to the whisked egg whites. Beat the meringue mix until it has almost cooled.   

Meanwhile mix the unbeaten egg white with the almond base to get a thick paste. Add coffee extract and food colouring to get a pale caramel colour.   

With a spatula mix around a third of the meringue with the almond paste to loosen it a little then add rest of meringue and fold it carefully.    

Fill a piping bag with the macaroon mix. Stick a sheet of greaseproof paper to a baking tray. Make small evenly shaped and sized balls at regular intervals across the tray. Leave to dry at room temperature for an hour. 

Preheat oven to 145C fan 125C. Cook the macaroons for 13mins. Immediately on taking them out of the oven slide the greaseproof paper and shells on to a moistened work top . This will help the shells detach from the greaseproof paper more easily.       

With a piping bag fill half shells with caramel them sandwich together with the remaining shells.

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