RECIPE: I love Christophe Felder’s book because he provides step by step instructions with lots of photos to show exactly what the step is meant to look like. I tackled this recipe because I’ve tried making caramel several times and every time the sugar has crystallised. I felt better about this after watching every contestant fail a caramel technical challenge in the Great British Bake Off. I read all sorts of advice on the internet that suggested not stirring at all, different temperatures, painting down the sides, but this recipe is the first time I’ve managed to get it to work. Relief! Once again I halved the recipe, as I didn’t want enough macarons to make a croquembouche 🙂 Even though I halved the caramel I still have lots left, but it is perfect warmed up and drizzled over ice-cream.
COMPONENTS: The banana caramel is made in a couple of stages. I found it was important to have everything ready, as timing is critical when working with sugar. Even if you do get the caramel to work, it turns to crystals very quickly if you’re not ready to add the cream. I followed the recipe and stirred the sugar. There was no water added, it was just sugar, and I stirred constantly, not leaving it for a second. I admit to being nervous so probably added the cream a little early – the recipe asked for dark caramel and mine was more of a medium. This only affected the depth of flavour and I don’t care because it worked! The recipe required Italian meringue (the type that adds a sugar syrup to the egg whites). After one lot of crystallised sugar (I ignored my earlier success and didn’t stir constantly), I managed a good sugar syrup, which then almost crystallised because I didn’t have my eggs whipped to soft peaks ready for the sugar to be added. Timing really is critical. It also helps to read ahead in the recipe so you know what’s coming! Adding the egg whites and meringue to the macaron mix was straightforward. I rested the piped macarons for a little while before putting them in the oven. While the recipe didn’t recommend this, I know resting helps prevent cracking of the tops and creation of the ‘feet’ of the biscuit.
ASSEMBLY: The caramel and the macarons need to be cold, otherwise you’ll have sliding issues. I started by piping the caramel, but after overflows and not being able to stop the flow between macarons, I gave this up and used a teaspoon and dabbed it on. Make sure your macaron shells match in size, I paired mine up before I started.
IMPRESSIONS: I’ve never had a macaron that didn’t have a buttercream filling, and I’m now never going to hesitate to try different fillings. This was delicious. Sweet but not too sweet, soft with a crisp shell, and very more-ish.
Recipe from Patisserie by Christophe Felder.