When Annie and I knew for sure we’d be getting together, the first thing I thought about baking was macarons. Until making them with her, I had been far too intimidated to make them on my own. After making them, though, I wonder why I was at all hestitant to try them in the first place. It doesn’t hurt that I had an experienced macaron maker there to guide me through the process, but it really was much less frightening than I thought it would be. Now that I’ve said all that, let me just tell you that our first batch of macarons didn’t turn out. We stayed up late and tried again (this time using a recipe that Annie had made previously) with much better results. There is something magical about pulling that first macaron shell off the baking sheet and realizing you succeeded. The fact that I got to make them with Annie just made this experience all the more special.
These macarons were out of this world delicious. In my opinion, there aren’t many combinations better than salt and caramel. If you’re a popcorn lover like me, this dessert is perfect for you. The rich, buttery caramel goes so well with the salty popcorn. There are so many textures in this little macaron that it’s almost hard to believe it’s one dessert. I’m so glad we tried another recipe because these macarons were worth every second we spent on them. Annie packed up some of these for me to take home, and I kept them in my camera bag during my flight. After a particularly long delay, I very nearly broke into them but decided I couldn’t do that to my sweet husband, who, by the way, drove in a terrible storm to come get me from a different airport and left early the next morning to pick up my luggage at the airport I should’ve flown into. Even though these tasted amazing, I’m glad I didn’t end up eating several of them on the way home. Luckily for Eric (and myself), I’m no longer afraid to make these and can’t wait to try more flavor combinations soon.
- COOK TIME:
- YIELD: 20-24 macarons
For the macarons:
110 grams almonds (blanched or slivered)
200 grams confectioner’s sugar
90 grams egg whites, aged at room temperature for 24 hours or 3-5 days in the refrigerator
25 grams granulated sugar
¾ cup buttered and salted popcorn, pulsed or chopped into fine chunks
For the caramel filling:
½ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
¼ cup water
6 tablespoons heavy cream
Pinch of fleur de sel
To make the macarons, pulse the almonds and confectioner’s sugar in the bowl of a food processor until finely ground and well blended.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until a smooth, shiny meringue with stiff peaks forms. Add the ground almond mixture to the bowl with the meringue and quickly but gently fold together using a wide rubber spatula until no streaks remain. You want to achieve a thick batter that ribbons or flows from the spatula when lifted.
Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain wide round tip. Pipe into small rounds on the prepared baking sheets (each round should be about 1-1½ inches in diameter), spaced about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle the rounds lightly with the chopped popcorn pieces (leave half plain if you want them to lie flat). Let sit at room temperature for about an hour to develop a hard shell.
Heat the oven to 280˚F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on size. Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely before moving the cookies.
To make the caramel filling, combine the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat without stirring until the sugar begins to melt and turn golden at the edges. Continue cooking, swirling the pan to cover evenly, until the sugar turns golden amber. Carefully pour the cream down the side of the pan in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly until combined. Stir in the fleur de sel. Transfer the caramel to a bowl and let cool. It will thicken as it cools.
Once the cookies are totally cooled, match them up by size. Pipe a small dollop of caramel on the flat side of one cookie of each pair. Sandwich together with the remaining cookie, pushing the caramel to the edges. Store in an airtight container.