These are my new favorite macarons to make. The Earl Grey tea makes them wonderfully fragrant, and the salted caramel adds not only a great balance of salty and sweet, but also gives the macarons a little chewier texture than usual.
And when I say Earl Grey, I mean Earl Grey. There are little bits of tea leaf running through the shells, and the heavy cream used to make the caramel is infused with the tea itself.
See the specks of tea leaves. Smell the intoxicating bergamot scent. And finally, taste the floral, chewy macaron. If you really wanted to go crazy, have them with a warm cup of Earl Grey tea.
Even after months of not making any macarons, they were relatively cooperative and didn't really give me any trouble. I thought I would be a little rusty, but I think making macarons has become second nature to me. I experimented with the filling this time and did a combination of two different caramel fillings. In the center, I made a caramel that I softened with a little butter. Around the caramel center, I made a salted caramel cream cheese frosting to temper the sweetness of the caramel. Filling the delicate shells with only caramel would have been overwhelming.
Earl Grey Salted Caramel Macarons
makes 24 macarons
for the macarons shells:
110g blanched almond slivers
200g powdered sugar
90g aged egg whites
30g fine granulated sugar
2 tea bags Earl Grey tea ( I used Tazo)
As always, make sure to age the egg whites for at least 24 hours, preferably 48 hours. Weigh out the ingredients accurately. Combine 110g blanched almond slivers with 200g of powdered sugar with the tea leaves from 2 tea bags of Earl Grey tea. in a food processor. Process until very fine and sift into a bowl. Process any larger pieces left over.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat 90g of egg whites on high until frothy. Add in 30g of granulated sugar gradually, taking care to incorporate sugar well after each addition. Beat until relatively stiff peaks form. You should be able to invert the bowl and the meringue should stay in place.
Add half of the almond and powdered sugar mixture into the egg whites and gently fold to incorporate. Add the rest of the mixture and fold until the consistency of lava. Fold carefully. You would rather under-mix than over-mix the batter.
Pipe 1 inch rounds onto silpat lined baking sheets, giving them ample space because they will spread a little. Let them rest for 30 minutes or until the tops aren't sticky to the touch.
Heat a convection oven to 260 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets. I prefer to let them cool and "dry" out a little bit overnight before filling them the next day.
for the caramel:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Earl Grey tea bag
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp coarse fleur de sel
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp butter
Heat 1/4 cup of heavy cream with 1 Earl Grey tea bag. Let the tea infused until the heavy cream is a warm tan color.
Combine 1/2 cup of granulated sugar with 2 tbsp of water in a deep saucepan. Cook until a golden brown amber color. Watch the mixture carefully because it can burn in the blink of an eye.
Carefully add in the heavy cream mixture and turn off the heat. Be careful because the mixture will seize and bubble up when the cream is added. Don't panic. Just keep stirring and it will calm down. Add in 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tsp coarse fleur de sel. Make sure it is a quality sea salt. It makes all the difference.
Make two batches, one for the center of the filling, and one for the cream cheese filling.
for the salted caramel cream cheese filling:
1 batch of caramel sauce
4 oz unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
50g powdered sugar
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 4 oz unsalted butter with 4 oz cream cheese. Beat until light and fluffy. Add in sugar and incorporate well. Add in 1 batch of caramel sauce, cooled almost to room temperature, and beat to incorporate.
To fill the macarons, place a small amount of caramel in the center of a shell and encircle that caramel with the cream cheese mixture before topping it with a matching macaron shell. Place in refrigerator and let them "mature" overnight. Macarons will retain their optimal texture for about 3 days.
P.S. I also made that celadon-glazed ceramic piece in the background! :)