Paris is one of my absolute favourite places in the world and im planning another trip very soon, either later this or early next year. One of my favourite things about the city is its wonderful food culture and my absolute favorite place to indulge is Pierre Herme (not exactly an original choice but you cant dispute excellence). The things he sells look amazing, enticing and delicious and they taste just as good as they look. Herme is well known as one of, if not the, best places to get Macarons, those lovely little indulgent almond cookies filled with ganaches, creams and caramels. The shop that I have visited is in St Germain des Pres an adorable neighborhood near the Luxembourg Gardens, the perfect place to enjoy your purchases and spend some time wandering drinking in the atmosphere (a bit romaticised I know, so sue me I like the picture perfect ideal) .
I have tried to recreate these sweet treats quite a few times with varying degrees of success. My best attempt was using a Pierre Herme recipe that was posted on Foodbeam so when I came across another of Herme’s recipes, this time for Salted Caramel, I jumped right in and tried again. These were by far the best I have ever made, if you had been in my kitchen when these came out of the oven you would have seen me do a little dance, I was so happy that I’d finally managed to make a batch I was happy with. This joy didnt last though, my concentration lapsed whilst making the caramel filling and I added double the amount of butter to the syrup and then managed to split the mixture. I rescued it by cooling in the fridge and working in some extra cream whipped to soft to firm peaks, so the filling tasted fine but not as strong as it should and it didnt stay firm too long after taking it out of the fridge. The recipe is from Herme’s book “Macaron” (a French language book) which I tried to buy, but I was a little late and it had sold out by the time I tried. I have heard it is being reprinted in October and trust me, i’ll be right there with my order as soon as its available.
300g Icing Sugar
300g Ground Almonds
110g Liquified Egg Whites (separated and left on the counter for at least 48hrs)
15g Coffee Extract
15g “Egg Yolk” Food Colouring
110g Liquified Egg Whites
Salted Caramel Cream
330g Whipping Cream (this is my translation the original recipe calls for Creme Fraiche Liquide)
30g Salted Butter + 140g Softened Salted Butter
Make the Macarons
1. Sift the Ground Almonds and Icing sugar together (supermarket bought ground almonds are not fine enough so I always grind the mixture, called tant pour tant, further in a food processor and then sift this)
2. Mix the first portion of egg whites with the food colouring and coffe extract, add this to the almond/sugar mixture but dont mix.
3. Put the water and sugar in a saucepan and heat until it reaches 118C. Take off the heat and let cool till 115C. At the same time add the second batch of egg whites to the mixer and beat to soft peaks. Keep the mixer running and when the syrup cools to 115C slowly pour it down the side of the mixer and keep mixing until the meringue cools to 50C.
4. Fold in the egg whites in 3 additions and mix gently until it flows like magma (this wording is not from the book but is commonly listed as advice but has always been confusing to me as I dont really know what magma flows like) This time I used the description that the mixture should fall from your spatula in smooth ribbon and should disappear into the batter in about 10 seconds).
5. Add the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe into rounds about 3.5cm in diameter on a parchment/silpat lined baking sheet. Let the pipped shells sit out for 30 minutes to enable them to develop a skin before baking.
6. Preheat the oven to 180C before baking for 12 minutes opening the oven door quickly twice. (not too sure why this is but I did it anyway). Once taken out of the oven slide the parchment/silpat onto a wire rack to cool.
1. Add about 50g of sugar to a saucepan, let this melt then add another 50g sugar and let this melt. Continue three times until all 200g of sugar has been incorporated and melted (can anyone tell me why its done in this way I have never heard of making caramel this way).
2. Let the syrup caramelise until it has turned a very dark amber. Remove from the heat and add the 30g butter. Add the cream which will spatter and bubble and may seize up and harden but will melt in the next stage.
3. Put the pan back on the heat and cook until it reaches 108C on a candy thermometer. Pour into a dish and cover with plastic wrap to avoid it developing a skin. Let this cool, I left it about 10 minutes which was not enough as it melted the butter in the next stage so let it cool until it wouldn’t melt butter.
4. Beat the remaining butter for 8 to 10 minutes and then incorporate the caramel in 2 additions. Add this to a piping bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe into half of the shells and then sandwich another shell on top. Store the Macarons in the refrigerator for 24hrs and then remove 2hrs before serving.
Next time I would alter the level of colouring a bit, it seemed a little off to me but this is a little thing
I found a great walk-through that takes you fully through the process and im sure it helped me a fair bit.