Every season (except winter) seems too short. I always end up longing for the fruits of seasons long before they come around again.
I created these beauties to celebrate the fall, but since they use freeze dried apples you can enjoy them year-round. The caramel sauce was a little thin for macarons even straight from the fridge, so perhaps using it to make a bourbon caramel cream cheese frosting would make for a better filling?
Oh, but wait! I almost forgot. YOU CAN MAKE CARAMEL IN THE MICROWAVE. I know. It blew my mind, too.
Apple Cinnamon Macarons with Salted Bourbon Caramel
190g almond meal
22g powdered freeze dried apples
212g powdered sugar
2t vietnamese cinnamon
82g & 90g egg whites, divided
Salted Bourbon Caramel Sauce, see below
Preheat the oven to 350deg and make sure the rack is in the middle of the oven.
Combine the almond meal, freeze dried apples, powdered sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl and whisk together to blend well and break up any clumps. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the 82g of egg whites and blend into the dry ingredients until evenly mixed, forming a thick paste.
Combine the 354g granulated sugar with the water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Keep a candy thermometer attached to the side and be watchful! We're heating up the syrup to 248deg, but when it hits 200deg, begin whipping the 135g egg whites with a pinch of granulated sugar in a mixer on medium low speed. Continue whipping the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. If soft peaks form before the syrup reaches 248deg, reduce the mixer speed to low to keep the egg whites moving.
Immediately remove the syrup from the heat when it hits 248deg. Increase the mixer speed to medium and pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow drizzle until fully incorporated. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and whip the meringue until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Add the meringue to the almond mixture in thirds, folding in each addition gently until smooth. You may not use all of the meringue, so add it gradually. The desired end-point is a smooth batter that runs in thick ribbons off your spatula.
Add the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip with a 1/2" opening (or a ziploc bag with a corner cut off to a 1/2" opening). Holding the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet, pipe rounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. I find a template slipped under the parchment works well for even piping, just be sure to remove the paper before putting it in the oven! Small peaks that you may see immediately after piping should smooth out if the texture of the batter is correct.
Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 325deg. Bake for 9-12min, until the tops are smooth and set and feet have formed around the bottom. Let the shells cool briefly on the baking sheet (~5min), and then peel them away from the parchment and place on a cooling rack. They should come away easily and fully intact. Repeat as needed with the remaining batter, replacing the parchment paper with each batch (I was feeling thrifty and used both sides) and bringing the oven temperature back up to 350deg before each batch.
Once the shells are baked and cooled, match them up in pairs by size. To one macaron shell, add a bit of salted bourbon caramel sauce, then top with the paired shell. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. These get better with a little time in the fridge, so don't hesitate to make them a ahead of time.
Salted Bourbon Caramel Sauce
adapted from gimme some oven
1c evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
2T Lyle's Golden Syrup (or make your own sugar cane syrup)
1/4t fresh lemon juice
1/2c heavy cream, heated (I just warmed a bit
1T unsalted butter, softened
1t fleur de sel
1/4c bourbon vanilla (if you don't have any vanilla beans soaking in bourbon, just add 1/2t vanilla extract to your bourbon)
In a large glass measuring cup (or other microwavable bowl), add the sugar, sugar syrup, water and lemon juice. Whisk together and cook on high for 5min. Be careful not to overcook as it can burn!
Remove from the microwave and place on a kitchen towel. Let cool for 3-5min, the color will deepen a bit more as it sits.
Begin by whisking in 1T cream, keep whisking as it will bubble and froth. Continue whisking as you add in the rest of the heavy cream in a slow stream. Finally, add bourbon, butter and salt, whisking well to combine.
Serve warm or transfer into a glass jar and let cool and thicken in the fridge.