How to make salted caramel macarons with a thick caramel filling between French macaron shells.
My macaron recipe and top tips are taken from my 2nd book, Teatime in Paris: A Walk Through Easy French Pâtisserie Recipes (2015). With thanks to my publishers, Waverley Books, for granting permission to finally publish on the website (2023).
What is the Best Macaron Flavour?
Why is it that salt added to caramel is so agonisingly addictive?
As a result, the salted caramel macaron is one of the most popular macaron flavours in Paris - confirmed by the Parisian pâtisseries in my Top 20 Best Macarons in Paris.
The taste of these macarons are more like the ones we find in Paris patisseries. Although sugar is needed to make salted caramel, I did my best to reduce the sugar as much as I dare in the filling - but enough to make it all work and thicken together.
Where Did Salted Caramel Come From?
Salted caramel is surprisingly recent: caramel au beurre salé, or salted butter caramel, was invented in the 1970s by Henri Le Roux in Quiberon, where salted butter is added to most specialities in Brittany.
Love the sauce on desserts? See recipe for salted caramel sauce
Can I make this Salted Caramel Macaron Filling Without Salt?
Salt isn't necessary for caramel macarons - but it's so good! Without salt added to the filling, it's easier to add other flavours to the caramel such as orange, lemon or lime (add zest), coffee or vanilla, for example.
Even jasmine tea goes well too in these caramel macarons - how this recipe on the website started out before I was permitted to publish my original recipe!
However, the most intriguing and classic taste with caramel is with the salt.
We add French fleur de sel (flower salt) from the Guérande.
Equivalents which work well are Maldon salt flakes or Celtic sea salt.
What to Avoid When Making Macarons
Recent recipes on the internet have the exact tips and troubleshooting advice I already gave in both my books since 2010! So, for many more details and macaron recipes, you'll find them all there.
In the meantime, here are some of my top mistakes to avoid when making macarons:
- Making macarons using approximate cups in volume. We're not making chocolate chip hazelnut cookies where it doesn't matter as much. Like the French, we use precise measures in grams so please follow these instructions to the letter and measure your ingredients exactly. The result will be consistent, successful results.
- Following a few macaron recipes at the same time. This is not just confusing but not all recipes are the same. This one uses French meringue so stick to it and it will be easier.
- Multi-tasking while making them. Keep your mind on what you're doing. It's not rocket science but you do need to concentrate - and have fun making them!
- Using liquid food colourings. The liquid will affect the meringue so I recommend powdered colourings - plus less is needed. Gels are also good but their quality is varied so if you can, stick to powder.
- Using ingredients out of date or not great quality.This even happened to me recently making these shells below with old almond flour and ended up with slightly bitter shells that didn't rise as much. I'm embarrassed enough to even show you them!
- Being impatient. You really do need to let the shells air before baking and if you eat the finished version straight away, you'll be disappointed. Fresh macarons (particularly chocolate and salted caramel) need to be given 1-2 days before eaten to enjoy them at their best.
Top Tips How to Make French Macarons
- Use the finest almond flour or ground almonds you can find.
- Sift the powdered sugar and almond flour well using a medium sieve. Discard any bigger almond bits - save for making other cookies.
- Age organic egg whites for 2-3 days in a jar in the fridge, covered with pierced cling film.
- Whip the egg whites well. Follow my recipe instructions to the letter. Many people prefer using Italian meringue with a sugar thermometer, but I prefer French meringue as it's easier. Just don't be afraid to whip to firm, glossy peaks.
- Use a good large and flexible spatula. This is your macaron friend - as well as me!
Your oven can be the biggest culprit for cracks, hollows and uneven baking of macarons. Is your oven doing what it's saying it is? Use an oven thermometer and, if necessary, adjust the temperature.page 150, Teatime in Paris (2015) by Jill Colonna
Thick Caramel Filling for Macarons
The method for making the salted caramel is much the same in my recipe for the first stage of a French Crème Caramel. I even have the method explained and demonstrated here on video for making caramel.
However, if you're worried about making caramel, no worries. Just follow this easier scientific approach in this recipe for salted caramel sauce, inspired by food scientist friend, Raphaël Haumont. It works a dream!
First and foremost, measure your ingredients exactly with a digital kitchen scale. This makes the difference between a runny caramel that's difficult to work with and a thicker, creamy caramel that works easily to pipe out as a filling for your macarons.
Caramel sauce only requires 3 basic ingredients: sugar, butter, cream. For salted caramel, we add the salt or use salted butter.
For making salted caramel as a thick macaron filling, however, I add gelatine and mascarpone to thicken the sauce.
Step-by-Step Recipe for Salted Caramel Macarons Filling
First make the caramel by dissolving the sugar over a medium to high heat in a saucepan. Leave the caramel alone without stirring it.
It will turn into a caramel within a few minutes so keep your eye on it. Just shake the pan to dissolve all of the sugar into the caramel.
Turn down the heat then add the butter and the warmed cream. Stir constantly together until the caramel becomes beautifully smooth.
Take off the heat and add the gelatine, squeezed of excess water and stir into the caramel.
Leave on the counter to cool for about 15 minutes then add the salt (fleur de sel) and mascarpone.
Don't forget to taste your filling by adding just a little salt at first and add more as necessary. There's nothing worse than too much salt and ruining the flavour of the whole batch in one go!Jill
Stir or whisk together using a hand whisk then chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
30 minutes later, the filling is thick enough to work with.
(Try not to taste too much of the filling and keep enough for the macarons!)
Transfer to a piping bag and squeeze out on to each macaron shell pair.
normally the left hand supports the bottom of the piping bag - I just needed my hand to take the photo!
Sandwich each pair of macarons together with the filling. As soon as they're filled, quickly transfer to a pastry box or biscuit tin (especially if the kitchen is hot during summer). Chill in the fridge for 24 hours.
How Long Can My Macarons Keep?
Don't forget that once the macarons are filled to store them in a box and keep in the fridge for at least 24 hours before eating. Otherwise the macarons will be too dry.
By waiting at least a day, this gives the filling time to permeate into the shells, making them typically delicious macarons with a fondant inside and slightly crispy exterior.
Your macarons can keep in the fridge for about 5 days or can be frozen for up to 2 months.
Salted Caramel Macarons
- kitchen scale preferably set to grams
- electric hand whisk or stand mixer with whisk attachment
- 3 baking sheets lined with baking parchment
- large flexible spatula
- 40cm/16 inch piping bag with 8-10mm/½ inch piping tip
- 2 large mixing bowls (super clean for whites - not trace of oil or egg yolk)
French Macaron Shells
- 100 g (3½oz) egg whites organic (2-3 days old, at room temperature)
- 65 g (2½oz) caster sugar (superfine)
- 120 g (4½oz) ground almonds (fine almond flour) sifted
- 180 g (6oz) icing sugar (powdered sugar) sifted
- pinch caramel powdered colouring (brown/yellow) OPTIONAL
Salted Caramel Filling
- 100 g (4oz) whipping/heavy cream warmed
- 1 x 2g sheet or 1 tsp sheet or powdered gelatine
- 100 g (3.5oz) granulated sugar
- 60 g (2.5oz) unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon sea salt fleur de sel, Maldon flakes or celtic salt
- 150 g (5.5oz) Mascarpone (see NOTES below)
To make the Macaron Shells
- Line 3 flat baking sheets with perfectly flat baking parchment and set aside.
- Sift the finely ground almonds with the icing sugar using a medium sieve. Discard any large, coarse almond pieces. Mix both well together. Set aside.
- Whisk the egg whites on medium setting until they start to foam then add a little caster sugar. Continue to whisk and increase speed gradually to high as you add the rest of the icing sugar. If using, add a tiny pinch of powdered caramel colouring. Whisk to glossy firm peaks.
- Incorporate the beaten egg whites into the dry ingredients using the large, flexible spatula. Mix well. The batter will be a bit thick and clumpy at this point.
- Using a plastic scraper or still with the spatula, work to a smooth mixture (macaronnage). Press down well on the sides or bottom of the bowl, going back and forward to press out the air bubbles from the mixture.
- Lift the spatula regularly and drop the batter. As soon as you have a smooth brilliant mixture that drops like a ribbon (or 'lava'), stop! Too much mixing results in flat macarons with cracked tops; under-mixing results in dull, bumpy shells.
- Transfer the batter using the spatula to the piping bag fitted with a plain tip. Pipe out 3cm (1¼ inch) rounds. Press the tip right down on the paper then finish off with a flourish to obtain a nice round. Leave a good space between each as they spread out.
- Leave for about 30 minutes to air. They are ready to bake when they are hard to the touch. If not, air for slightly longer. This is a good time to make the filling.Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 170°C/155°C fan/300°F/gas 3.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, one tray at a time, low to centre oven. After 3 minutes, the feet start to form (do the macaron dance!)After 8 minutes, do my 'wobble' test: touch the top of a macaron and gently move your finger side to side. Depending on how much it moves, cook for 2-4 minutes longer until firm.
- When ready, leave on the baking tray until completely cool. Remove them all carefully (they should peel off easily). Marry up the shells in pairs according to size, one row flat side up, another down to prepare for the caramel filling.
Thick Salted Caramel Macaron Filling
- Soak the gelatine for 10 minutes in cold water.
- Warm the cream in a separate pan or a few seconds in the microwave.
- Measure out the sugar in a small saucepan. Put on medium to high heat, without stirring, until a golden, syrupy caramel forms. Shake the pan to dissolve all the sugar when it starts to change colour. Be careful that it doesn't colour too much (i.e. it can burn quickly - and there's nothing worse than bitter burnt caramel, so keep your eye on it!). This should take no more than 10 minutes in total. Turn down the heat and add the butter and warmed cream together.
- Take off the heat and stir the caramel with a wooden spoon.
- Add the gelatine (squeezed of excess water) and stir. Leave to cool for 15 minutes on the counter.
- Add the salt and whisk in the mascarpone vigorously (or use an electric whisk) until smooth.
- Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Transfer the salted caramel filling to a piping bag, pipe on a little filling to each macaron couple, topping off with the other macaron shell to assemble. Resist temptation to eat. They need to be stored for at least 24 hours in the fridge. No cheating!
This post was first published 9 November 2015 as a caramel filling with jasmine tea but is now completely updated (2023) with the full salted caramel macaron recipe from my book, Teatime in Paris (2015), with thanks to Waverley Books for permission to finally publish. Don't forget also my first book, Mad About Macarons! (2010) which was the first macaron recipe book published in the UK.
Please give this a starred review, as it's only recently online.
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