Macarons are great because the flavours you put in them are completely up to you! Be it fruity, be it chocolatey, be it nutty, be it strange – the canvas is blank. Some people go so far as to make them savoury, but sugar is always best in my opinion. And sugar in the form of salted caramel is just lush, not to mention topped with crunchy toasted hazelnuts. After eating these macarons you’ll be living a new life!
Hazelnut & Salted Caramel Macarons
Makes 20 pairs
for the salted caramel
- 200g caster sugar
- 140ml double cream
- 40g unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon flaked sea salt
for the macarons
- 3 egg whites (from medium eggs)
- 225g icing sugar, sifted
- 105g ground almonds, sifted (105g after discarding any big pieces)
- 30g toasted chopped hazelnuts
Make the salted caramel: place the sugar in a saucepan with 100ml water and place over a medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring and increase the heat. Bring the syrup to the boil and cook until it turns an amber caramel (this will take a few minutes). While the syrup is boiling, gently heat the cream, butter and salt in a small saucepan until the butter has melted, then remove from the heat.
Once the syrup has turned to caramel, remove from the heat and pour in the cream mixture. Take great caution as the mixture will splatter. As soon as it settles, stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until smooth. If necessary, place over a low heat to dissolve any lumps. Pour the salted caramel into a heatproof bowl and leave to cool.
Make the macarons: line two large baking trays with non-stick baking paper. In a large bowl, whisk the whites to soft peaks then gradually whisk in half the sugar, whisking until the mixture is very thick and glossy.
Combine the almonds with the remaining sugar, then carefully fold into the meringue mixture using a rubber spatula. The perfect consistency is when the mixture falls from the spatula in a ribbon and sinks back into the mixture after 30 seconds. Be careful not to overmix.
Using a large piping bag fitted with a 1cm diameter plain nozzle, pipe twenty, 4cm diameter circles of the mix on each of the baking trays (using this template). Any peaks should flatten on their own. Sprinkle half of the macarons with the hazelnuts and leave them all to stand for 30 minutes for them to develop a skin. Preheat the oven to 120°C (110°C fan)/250°F/gas mark ¼.
Bake the macarons in the oven for 30 minutes until they have risen and are firm to the touch. Do not let them brown. Macarons are perfectly cooked when they can be removed from the paper without leaving a trace; if any stick, return to the oven for two minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Assemble the macarons: pair up macarons of equal size/shape (one with hazelnuts, one without) and sandwich together with the cooled salted caramel.