I realized that I have been blogging for a year and a half now. Wow. That’s lasted longer than most relationships nowadays – I feel like you should know me really well by now, after all, I’ve always considered my life to be an open book blog.
But do you really? I guess, there comes a point in all relationships where you THINK you know a person and then they throw you a curveball.
Well, this is mine: I don’t like eating macarons. I find them too sweet.
I know, it’s crazy, especially with the number of times I’ve made them on my blog. Even at Pierre Herme or Laduree, my husband will order a box (his line is “one of each flavour please!”) and I’ll feel obliged to try them since we’re supposed to be in macaron mecca – but in most cases, I’ll only have half a compulsory bite if ever. I have come to realize that my fascination with them was really borne out of the frustration of not being able to make them properly the first three or so years after learning about them.
Last week however I was inspired to make some macarons for myself after reading Ellie’s post on her Ret Hot Devil mac pops. But this time, I decided to go with a more savoury/sweet approach. You see, I love salt. You know how some restaurants serve salt in little bowls? My husband has to stop me from picking at it because I can eat salt on its own. So I made two lots of macarons, first a chocolate macaron which I sprinkled with some pink salt flakes and made a ganache of chocolate, olive oil and more sea salt. I managed to have two macarons from this batch. The first one was me trying to figure out whether the olive oil flavour was strong enough to come through (it was) and the second one was to savour the hint of salt flakes from the shell and the ganache.
The second batch of macarons was a Masterchef winner. Really… it was. Our work sponsored a Masterchef Dessert competition as part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival (of which we were a major sponsor) and I piped up a batch of these Salted Caramel Macarons that won me not only a dinner for two at the Young Chef’s Dinner, but also a signed copy from Joanna Savill of the Good Food Guide!
I’m sharing both recipes here in case you’d like to try them yourself. Macaron recipe can be found here (for French method, the ganache is good for half a batch of these macarons) or here (for Italian Method).
Salted Caramel Macarons
Makes enough for one batch of macarons
- 160 grams caster sugar
- 130 grams cream
- 150 grams butter, diced (best quality you can afford – I used Lurpak brand)
- 7 grams sea salt (I used pink Murray river salt)
- Heat sugar in a pot, making sure to constantly stir so that it browns evenly.
- In another sauce pan, warm the cream until the cream bubbles along the sides of the pot.
- Once the sugar turns a deep brown, immediately add the warmed cream. Be careful not to burn yourself as the cream and sugar will create a lot of steam – it’s preferable to use a long wooden spoon to stir.
- If you notice that some sugar has hardened, heat the mixture gently until the sugar dissolved. Continue to stir the sugar and cream mixture off the heat to allow it to cool, you can even place it in another container to speed up the process.
- Once the mixture has cooled to around 50c, add the diced butter with a whisk, a little at a time until fully incorporated.
- If you haven’t already, transfer the mixture to a bowl and cover with cling wrap and allow to cool in the refrigerator for around 2 to 3 hours.
- Once the mixture has cooled, add the salt and emulsify the mixture using either a food processor, stand mixer, hand held mixer or thermomix until the mixture changes colour to a dark beige shade. This is now ready for piping.
Chocolate, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Ganache
Makes enough for one batch of macarons
- 150 grams dark chocolate, 50% cocoa (I used Lindt)
- 120 grams cream
- 30 grams olive oil
- 7 grams sea salt
- Chop the chocolate into little pieces and place them in a bowl. Heat the cream until it is almost boiling in a saucepan (the cream at the sides of the pan will start to bubble) and pour this onto the chocolate.
- Allow the chocolate and cream mixture to rest for a minute and then start to stir the chocolate, starting from the middle of the bowl – outwards, until the chocolate is fully incorporated.
- Add the olive oil and sea salt and allow to cool. Cover with a cling wrap and allow to harden in the refrigerator before use.
On a side note, have I told you how much I love Melbourne? I’m in Melbourne this week for a number of courses at Savour School. I’m absolutely amazed at the dedication and passion of my classmates. Many of them are working in professional kitchens or are running (or about to start) their own businesses. It’s both humbling and inspiring to see them in action and I’ll surely share with you my experiences in the coming posts.