A perfectly baked macaron is like a little bite of pure perfection. Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy in the middle, with a generous layer of gooey filling… give anyone a plate of macarons and you’ll be on to a winner! For me, one of the best things about macarons is their variety. There’s simply no end to the number of ways you can tweak the basic recipe to add in new flavours, colours, textures, shapes and finishes. A quick search on Pinterest will reveal more novelty macarons than you could shake a piping back at!
So, with that many macaron recipes out there – what makes my recipes any different? Well, this is where Ottar steps in. Ottar are a Nottinghamshire-based chocolate maker, located on the same site as the School of Artisan Food (which I visited last year for a chocolate master class). And when I say “chocolate maker”, I mean it as literally as possible – they source the raw cocoa beans, process them into insanely delicious chocolate, then use this to make products like chocolate bars and spreads. Pretty cool, right?
As well as chocolate, Ottar have recently launched a range of artisan caramels with some pretty unusual flavours… as soon as I saw them, I couldn’t wait to give them a try! I wanted to use the caramels in a delicate recipe that would let the caramel flavours shine. See where I’m going with this..? Yep, caramel macarons!
Let’s talk flavour…
The new caramel range from Ottar contains three different flavours: Sea Salt Rosemary, Sweet Sea Salt Fennel and a traditional Sea Salt Caramel. Seriously, if any of these flavours floats your boat, then you have got to give them a try! I especially love the fennel caramel. I was a little hesitant at first, as I normally use fennel only in savoury foods… but holy crap it tastes AMAZING. It’s quite a subtle flavour, but adds a lovely richness to the sweet caramel. This only gets better when you sandwich it between two macaron halves! Trust me when I say that this batch of macarons did not last very long after taking these photographs…
Caramel macarons recipe (fennel, rosemary and sea salt flavours)
- 100g light brown muscovado sugar
- 25g icing sugar
- 125g ground almonds
- 3 large free-range egg whites
- 25g caster sugar
- A jar of Ottar caramel
Before you get started, there’s a couple of things to note. Firstly, this caramel macarons recipe uses muscovado sugar to give a caramel colour and subtle flavour. Other macaron recipes use caster sugar – but this won’t work as well with the Ottar caramel filling. Secondly, be sure not to skip the first step! It’s tempting to rush this bit, but without whizzing the sugars and almonds together properly, the macaron will be lumpy and grainy – and no-one wants that.
- Place 50g of the muscovado sugar into the bowl of a food processor, along with the ground almonds and icing sugar. Pulse this mixture until very fine, before sifting into a bowl.
- Blitz the remaining muscovado sugar with the caster sugar in the now empty food processor, until it’s free of lumps and resembles sand.
- Separately, whisk the egg whites with a small pinch of salt to soft peaks (lift up the whisk and if the peak on the tip of the whisk flops over gently, you’re there). Gradually add the muscovado and caster sugar mixture, one tablespoon at a time. Whilst doing this, whisk continuously until the mixture is thick, glossy and pale caramel in colour.
- Carefully fold in half the almond mixture using a spatula and the cut and fold method, being careful not to deflate the egg whites. Once combined, repeat with the rest of the almond mixture. The resultant batter should be thick, slightly shiny and a trail should fall off the spatula and be visible on top of the mixture in the bowl. Spoon into a piping bag with a 1cm plain nozzle.
- Draw a template of circles with a diameter of 3cm to place under sheets of baking paper on baking trays. Use the template as a guide to pipe 3cm rounds of the macaron mixture. (Tip: keep the piping bag still in the same spot, close to the baking paper, and allow the batter to expand outwards to form a neat 3cm circle – rather than moving the piping bag in a circular shape).
- Tap the baking tray on the counter top to release any trapped air. Leave the piped macarons to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow a skin to form on the top. This step is crucial to getting the characteristic “foot” to appear at the base of each macaron. While you wait, preheat the over to 150ºC.
- Bake for 15 minutes before removing the macarons to cool on a cooling rack. Don’t be tempted to remove them from the baking paper – you will damage them and it’s much easier when they are cool!
- Choose your favourite Ottar caramel and spoon the contents into a bowl. Beat to a smooth consistency, then transfer to a squeezy bottle with a small nozzle.
- When sandwiching the macarons, it is tempting to go for a thick helping of caramel – but in this case restraint is the key. Pipe a generous circle around the circumference of one macaron half, before piping a quick zig-zag of caramel inside the circle. Finish it off by topping with the another macaron half. This way you get macarons that look generously filled, without being overly sweet – the right balance of flavoured caramel and the nutty sweetness of the macaron. Perfect!
So what do you reckon? Which of these caramel macaron flavours would you like to try the most? Let me know in the comments, or share your favourite one on Pinterest by pinning one of the images below! Thanks so much to the guys at Ottar for working with me on this post. Be sure to check out their website and treat yourself to some of their caramel sauces… you can thank me later! – Mike.
Which caramel macaron flavour sounds best to you? Pin one of the below images to let me know!
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Ottar, but all opinions are my own. I only ever work with brands that I genuinely love and that fit with the content of The Crafty Gentleman. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep me blogging!