October’s Daring Bakers’ challenge was to make delicious macarons with the choice of flavoring and filling left up to us. Being that it’s now fall and given I had over 10 pounds of apples from the apple picking trip I did couple weekends ago, I chose to make a vanilla macaron cookie filled with a caramel apple puree. My choice of filling became a collaboration of past Daring Bakers’ challenges (namely the Danish Braid and Caramel Cake), and it was pretty fun to remake those recipes. My filling is more of a caramel flavored applesauce than I hoped for, so if you’re looking for a creamy filling, you’ll need to do some tweaking to my filling recipe. Perhaps a caramel apple buttercream?
These macarons didn’t turn out as expected due to some over whipped egg whites. And like I’ve said before, this is not a quick recipe to breeze through. If I were to give a lesson in patience, I would assign the task of making macarons. The day I master the macaron will mark the day I become a patient woman. Or maybe not, we’ll have to see about that one.
The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.
Caramel Apple Macarons
adapted from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 egg whites (brought to room temperature)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Put both the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a food processor or blender and grind until thoroughly combined.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. Add seeds scraped from vanilla bean. If you are planning on adding other flavoring to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t over fold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip. You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized mounds of batter onto a baking sheet lined with Silpat.
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375F degrees. Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling with caramel apple filling (recipe below).
Caramel Apple Filling
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup water (for “stopping” the caramelizing process)
Apple Filling (recipe below)
1. In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly and color is a dark amber.
2. When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.
3. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. Please wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it. Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.
4. After caramel syrup has cooled, blend together with apple filling in a food processor or blender until mixture becomes a sticky puree.
1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1. Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.
2. Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes.
3. Add the apple mixture and saute until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Let cool to room temperature or cool in an ice bath.