Salted Butter Caramel Macarons
Macarons with Rose Buttercream
It was all an accident. While making some macarons one day, I couldn't find the low, circular metal stand I use to place the baking sheet on in the oven. So I used a higher stand and guess what? The hollow problem was gone!
All this while, I'd been wondering what the air pocket in my macarons were due to. How could it be after whipping up hundreds of batches, I've never once got a perfect batch? I had sifted, measured and folded everything correctly - surely the mistake couldn't be on my part. It all came down to this: The position of the tray in the oven. Using a higher or lower rack to bake your macarons will definitely have an effect on the macarons. Here are a couple of other tips that helped (for me). I can't comment on every factor out there but if anyone had the same problems like I did, I hope what I'd experienced will be of some help.
(1) I bake my macarons at 150 C for 18 min. Every oven has its own idiosyncracies so you have to find what temperature works for you. A friend of mine used 170 C but for my oven, it burns the macarons after just a few minutes. I cover the above rack with aluminium foil to prevent the colour of the macarons from fading. This is a must for me.
(2) I always do my macarons in an air-conditioned room (living in a tropical clime). I've found that without it, the macarons do not dry and form skins even when placed under a fan. I've had macarons 'drying' for one entire day under a fan and yet they still cracked when placed in the oven, because the humidity in the air affected with the ability to form skins. The drying time is again, individual, but in my case it takes 45 min to an hour before I pop them into the oven with confidence they will not crack. For me, resting for the macarons to dry out is very important - it will ensure crack free macarons.
(3) Lopsided macarons (when they decide to put on sun hats) are due to leaving them to dry out for far too long. I get lopsided macarons when I leave them to crust over for more than 4 hours.
(4) When the feet of your macaron splay out, it is not aesthetically ideal. You have to lower your oven temperature.
(5) If you have any problems with hollows, you may (1) rap the pan sharply on the table a few times after piping the shells to remove air bubbles, then prick them with a pick (2) adjust your temperature or (3) adjust position of pan in the oven. Also, an undercooked macaron will definitely be hollow. I find there is a very fine line between being slightly undercooked and just done.
(5) After being filled, macarons must be rested in the fridge for at least 24 to 48 hours, and then brought to room temperature 2 hours before eating. This is extremely important. Newly filled macarons taste dreadful because they are too crisp. Once the shell absorbs the moisture from the filling - the transformation will make the macaron snap delicately like an egg shell upon bitin,g into a moist and tender interior.
(6) I'm using French meringue because I find it yields a more tender and melt-in-your-mouth macaron. I have not much success with italian meringue (my shells always end up crunchy even after maturation) but I will keep practicing the technique more in future.
Review: The salted butter caramel is incredibly rich and to die for. I much prefer this over say a caramel buttercream because I feel the former has a more decadent flavour and as for the rose, - as I've mentioned before I'm not a big fan of buttercream but somehow this seems to work - the sensous feel of the rose perfumed buttercream absolutely melts in the mouth :)