Macarons. I remember the first time I spied one and I thought “What people are talking about – they don’t look that delicious”. And apart from the kaleidoscope of colours, they didn’t really LOOK that tasty. But – as most lovers of macarons know, once you’ve had one you know what alllll the fuss is about. That ultra thin, crisp shell that gives way to the chewiness inside. Then there’s the filling. The flavour combinations are just amazing and pretty much always delicious!
And what doesn’t go with salted caramel I ask you? I outright am addicted to the stuff. I put it on just about everything I bake. Cakes, cupcakes, pies, puddings – everything tastes better with caramel sauce! A couple of tablespoons in some buttercream and you have a perfect filling for these spiced gingerbread macarons.
I love the way you can be so creative as you choose the flavours you’ll combine together when making macarons. I really love to have a good sit down and think about what flavour I’m going to make the macaron and then the flavour of the filling. I’m usually sitting down and eating something sweet whilst thinking about it… just to get in the right frame of mind, you know… Actually, I might be munching on a macaron while I’m thinking of making some! I have a think about what might go together & see if a combination works or doesn’t. I think that’s why I love to cook so much. It’s kinda my way of being creative. I’ll jot down ideas, scribble a few out, look in my pantry for inspiration, then add some more ideas… Perhaps I spend way to much time thinking about food! Yeah, as if is right!
I would love to hear what you come up with or what your favourite flavours are too… I love being inspired by others people’s creations.
These tips are relevant to any macaron that you make & I’ve collected them over the years from my own experience and from friends who are awesome macaron makers. I reckon it’s the tips that will help you successfully make any macarons… it’s allllll about the method…. and my husband will attest to the fact that I have had a few ‘macaron pancakes’ in my time – he can attest to it because he’s seen me throw them in the bin, after all of that time and effort and the excitement of seeing them come out of the oven – only to see that they’re flat as tacks! So learning by other people’s mistakes is the way to go – saves you the tears!
So firstly, make sure your oven isn’t too hot. If your oven runs a bit hot (like mine does), turn it down a smidge. If your oven is too hot you could crack the macarons or they may cook well but be slightly brown on the top and you don’t want that as it ruins the lovely colours that you can make them.
Second and best tip ever – if it’s hot or humid turn the air conditioning on! Most recipes say to sit the macarons after you’ve piped them onto baking paper for at least 20 minutes. That’s because they need to be dry when you lightly touch them, before you put them in the oven. Listen up coz this is really important. If they’re not dry, they won’t rise and create a ‘foot’. Therefore you’ll have flat as a pancake macarons instead of gorgeous ones! So you may find you need them to sit for half an hour, or an hour, whatever it takes until the mixture doesn’t stick to your finger when you touch one. My gorgeous friend Richelle the amazing mistress of macaron making gave me this tip. Best – Tip – Ever! Her macarons are perfect – every time, so it’s advice worth taking! Thanks Richelle
Spiced Gingerbread Macarons with Salted Caramel Buttercream
- 1/3 quantity of Easy Buttercream Frosting
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 cup caster/superfine sugar
- 1 & 1/4 cups icing/powdered sugar
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- A pinch of ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
Preheat oven to 130°C or 265°F. Line trays with baking paper.
Beat the egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Add the caster/superfine sugar a tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar is incorporated and the sugar is dissolved.
Fold in the sifted icing/powdered sugar and ground almonds in 2 batches.
Spoon mixture into a piping bag with a round piping nozzle (I use either a Wilton 1A or Wilton 12). Pipe 4cm / 1/2 inch rounds around 2.5cm / 1 inch apart onto trays. Tap the trays on the bench so that the macarons spread slightly and any bubbles are gone.
Stand the macarons for at least 30 minutes or until you can touch one and mixture doesn’t stick to your finger (see Baking Tip).
Bake for about 20 minutes and cool on the trays.
Make 1/3 amount of Easy Buttercream Frosting and add 2 tablespoons of Salted Caramel Sauce (or you can use bought salted caramel sauce). Add extra icing / powdered sugar until it is the consistency you are after (around 1/3 a cup should do it).
Pipe or spoon the frosting onto one macaron and sandwich with another macaron.
Watch them disappear!