When macarons hit the stores in the United States, people were going crazy over the cookies. I, on the other hand, was not a fan. They were so incredibly sweet! I love my desserts but even I have a threshold of how sweet a cookie should be. So for this reason, I never bothered to make them from scratch…until now. Call it my curiosity or sheer boredom but I finally gave macarons another try and you know what? They’re not so bad. If you give me a batch of these caramel macchiato macarons, I won’t say no. The combination of the coffee macarons with the caramel buttercream is one that I can get on board with.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Macarons are notorious for being temperamental tricky little suckers. For this reason, I dedicated a couple of hours researching how to make a successful macaron. Now, I am not an expert by any means. I’ve only made macarons a handful of times, specifically these caramel macchiato macarons, but I have picked up a couple of tips along the way that may help you.
Macarons are naturally gluten-free, made from just egg whites, powdered sugar, almond flour, and granulated sugar. You can add flavorings to make pretty much any type of macaron you like. Today we’re going to add instant coffee to make coffee macarons.
Before you can start making the macarons, you need to let the eggs sit out at room temperature for about 1 hour. You need the egg whites to be at room temperature because the proteins will be relaxed meaning they’ll be easier to whip. I’ve even heard that you can leave the eggs out overnight.
While the eggs are sitting out, sift the superfine almond flour, powdered sugar, and instant coffee two times. Yes, two times. Three if you want to be extra careful. It’s extremely important that you use superfine almond flour to get the right texture. You can also pulse the ingredients in the food processor until they’re extra fine before you sift them, but I found it not necessary.
Okay, now it’s time to actually make the macarons. Whip the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Once you see soft peaks, gradually add the sugar while the mixer is on until it’s all incorporated into the eggs. Continue to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. If you’re feeling brave, you can take the egg white test and flip the bowl over. If the egg whites don’t fall out, they’re ready.
It’s incredibly important that the egg whites are fully whipped to the right stage. It can’t be under whipped or overwhipped or the cookies can turn out hollow. I know, I know. This is a tricky step, but watching Youtube videos of this step and practice always helps.
When the egg whites are ready, it’s time to fold in the dry ingredients. I transferred the egg whites to a wider bowl because I found it easier to fold in the ingredients compared to the narrow stand mixing bowl.
Add a third of the dry ingredient mixture to the egg whites and fold just until it’s combined. Add another third, fold some more, and then the remaining third. Okay, so when you’re folding, it’s important not to over-mix the batter. The first time I made macarons, I mixed the batter too much and it became too runny. There’s pretty much nothing you can do to salvage the batter once it gets to that stage. The best tip I got was to count how many folds you’ve done. The batter is usually ready by the time you make 50-60 folds.
So how do you know when the batter is ready other than counting? I discovered that there are two methods. The first is to lift the spatula above the bowl and draw a figure 8 with the batter. If the batter breaks off before you can finish drawing the 8, it’s too thick.
The second method is to lift the spatula above the bowl and let the batter drizzle back into the bowl. Wait thirty seconds and watch the batter. When the batter is ready, it should slowly sink back into the batter but you should still be able to see where you drizzled the batter (see image above). If the batter doesn’t sink back, it’s too thick. However, if the lines disappear completely, you’ve overmixed the batter.
Once the batter is ready, transfer it to a piping bag and pipe out 1 1/2 inch circles on a baking sheet lined with either parchment paper or a silicone mat. If you’re using parchment paper, draw the circles with a pencil before piping to get perfectly even circles.
Tap the tray on the counter to bring air bubbles to the surface and pop them with a toothpick if necessary. This helps prevents the cookies from having bubbles once they’re baked. Now let the cookies sit out for about an hour or until a skin forms. It should feel smooth on top, not wet. If your kitchen is warm, it could take longer than one hour.
Bake the cookies at 280 degrees F for 15 minutes, rotating the sheet tray halfway through the baking time. Bake only tray at a time place on the center rack for even baking.
Let the cookies cool completely on the sheet tray, then when they’re ready, peel them off the parchment paper or silicone mat. While the macarons are cooling, make the caramel buttercream. I only added a touch of caramel for a less sweet cookie but you can increase the amount if you prefer.
Pipe the caramel buttercream on the macaron and sandwich with another cookie. After all that work, it’s finally time to sit back and enjoy these caramel macchiato macarons. Are the macarons still sweet? Without a doubt. However, the coffee with the caramel work so well together, it’s something I can overlook. Delicious!
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