Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why something you knew so well, and thought would always be perfect, fails. But I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason.
In the kitchen, in relationships and in your job, when one door closes, another door opens.
I’ve made this recipe many times before, but this time it failed. Macaroons can be difficult, however they weren’t my problem child this time – it was the caramel filling. Usually it whips together like a charm and tastes flippen amazing, but today it all went wrong. But like a phoenix from a flame, this recipe turned out better than even when I decided not to waste the unwhippable caramel (which usually combines with the butter cream to make a caramel filling) and spread it over one half of the macaroons.
This resulted in a triple texture, extra chewy, vanilla-caramel brilliance which has to be experienced. The caramel doesn’t set rock hard like toffee does, it stays at a chewy, semi-firm consistency, even days later (if they last that long!).
- 75g ground almonds
- 115g icing sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 50g castor sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 175g sugar
- 125g cream
- 175g butter, cut into smaller squares
Butter cream filling:
- 55g unsalted butter, softened
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 115g icing sugar, sifted
- Place the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor and process for 15 seconds
- Line two baking trays with baking paper
- Place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until holding soft peaks. Gradually whisk in the castor sugar to make a firm, glossy meringue. Whisk in the vanilla essence
- Using a spatula, fold the almond mixture into the meringue, one third at a time. When all dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, continue to cut and fold the mixture until it forms a shiny batter, with a thick, ribbon-like consistency
- Pour the mixture into a piping back and pipe small rounds onto the baking sheets, approx. 3cm apart. Tap the trays firmly on the bench to remove any air bubbles.
- Leave the macaroons to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 160°c whilst waiting
- Bake in the preheated over for 15 minutes, one tray at a time
- Cool for 10 minutes on the tray then carefully peel the macaroons off the baking paper. Leave to cool completely
- To make the caramel, melt the sugar into a sauce pan over medium heat until it is a light amber colour (be careful not to burn it!). It is best not to stir the sugar, just let it melt on its own and swirling the caramel inside the pot until all the sugar is melted. Set aside.
- In another saucepan, heat the cream until it’s frothy, but not quiet boiling. Pour into the caramel and mix until they’re incorporated. Let cool for about 5 minutes
- Add the butter, chunk by chunk, mixing until it’s completely incorporated (if your caramel is too cold to incorporate the butter, you can gently heat it again). Cover the surface of the caramel with plastic wrap and leave to cool for about 15 minutes
- Beat the butter and the vanilla essence in a bowl until pale and fluffy
- Gradually beat in the icing sugar until smooth and creamy
- Once the macaroons are completely cool and the caramel is luke warm, you’re ready to assemble
- Using a knife, spread the caramel over the bottom of half the macaroons (if it’s too hard to spread, you can gently heat it up again on the stove). Leave the caramel covered macaroons to set completely
- Once the caramel layer has set, pipe the butter filling onto the rest of the macaroons, and sandwich two together