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Salted Caramel Apple Macarons


So, I finally tried the Italian meringue macaron method and you guys, I don't think I am going to go back to my French ways. Not because I've found a way to get rid of hollows, that's certainly still a struggle. But, I like it. I like the extra step to ensure a stable meringue and I like that most macaron companies out there are using it. Yes, I've done my research. And I am confident that some day soon, I will be able to consistently make un-hollow macarons using this method.
Now let's talk today's macaron flavor. I've heard caramel apples can be not so fun to bite into, so I'll tell you what is fun to bite into. A caramel apple macaron. More specifically, a salted caramel apple macaron. No mess, no fuss, and your teeth will be so grateful.
Since macarons are already sweet, the saltiness of the caramel is the perfect touch. The buttercream, I flavored with apple butter, which I feel is truly the best way to get the taste of an apple. My taste-testers agreed.

What macaron flavor should I make next? Let me know in the comments!

Salted Caramel Apple Macarons

Yield: approximately 40 macarons
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Ingredients:

150 grams almond flour
150 grams powdered sugar
40 grams water
120 grams water
105 grams egg whites, divided

For the apple butter buttercream:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 and 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup apple butter, plus more to taste

For the salted caramel:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1/2 tablespoon fleur de sel

Directions:

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Set aside.

Add almond flour and powdered sugar to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine and break apart any big lumps. Sift mixture into a clean bowl. Discard any large pieces that do not pass through the sieve.

Add 50 grams egg whites (plus gel food paste if desired) to the almond flour/powdered sugar mixture. Mix together with a spatula until you form a uniform paste. Set aside.

To the bowl of a stand mixer, add 55 grams egg whites. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form.

At the same time, add water and granulated sugar to a small saucepan. Heat on medium-heat, monitoring the temperature with a candy thermometer while you do so. Once the temperature is 240 degrees F, you'll want to switch the speed of the mixer to low, and slowly stream the hot syrup unto the mixer. Then, increase the speed to medium and beat until the meringue reaches stiff, glossy peaks.

You may also beat in additional gel food paste at this point if you want to.

Fold 1/3 of the meringue into the almond paste, mixing until well-incorporated. Add in the rest of the meringue, and fold until the batter is able to run off the spatula in ribbons.

Pipe 1.5 inch rounds onto the parchment paper(or silicone mat). It is helpful to use a guide here, so all your macarons are the same size. Rest the macarons for 30-40 minutes, or until a skin forms.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bake macarons for 20 minutes. (I like to double stack my pans for even heat distribution).

Allow macarons to cool on baking sheets before removing.

To prepare salted caramel, add sugar in an even layer to the bottom of a medium saucepan. Whisk the sugar as you heat it over medium-high heat. It will start to melt and form clumps, do not worry. This is normal. Continue whisking and the sugar will melt down completely. Once the sugar is completely melted, it will start to deepen in color. When it turns a deep amber color, add the room temperature butter and whisk swiftly to incorporate. Remove caramel from the heat and slowly pour in the cream, whisking continuously. Add in fleur de sel and whisk until incorporated. Allow the sauce to cool for 15 minutes, then pour it into a glass jar and set aside to cool at room temperature.

To prepare apple butter buttercream, using an electric hand mixer, beat together butter and powdered sugar until well-incorporated. Add apple butter, and beat until combined. Taste buttercream and add additional apple butter, if necessary, to achieve the best flavor.

To assemble the macarons, match macaron shells into pairs of similar sizes as best as you can. Spoon buttercream frosting into a piping bag fitted with a small round decorating tip. Pipe a circle of buttercream onto the flat side of half the shells. Drizzle salted caramel in the center. Top with opposite shell. Refrigerate in an airtight container for 24 hours to let the flavors develop. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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