By far the most delicate and sophisticated of cookies, these sea salt caramel macarons are the perfect little treats for all sorts of occasions.
No matter how to spell it (macarons or macaroons) or how you pronounce it, French macarons are by far one of the most beautiful bite sized desserts out there.
I was first introduced to macarons in high school, during a French Club field trip to Paris. This was circa 1999, prior to the big macaron boom in the United States.
I had no idea what a macaron was, except for those sweet coconut macaroons that my mom would make. Back then I don’t think my palette was refined enough to enjoy the macaron.
It made little impact on me because I was in my omg-I-love-dark-chocolate phase, and Paris had plenty of chocolatier and patisserie shops to fill my obsession.
By the time I graduated from college in 2007, cupcakes were all the rage. It seemed like the bubble was never going to burst until French macarons started to make their appearance at dessert tables at weddings, baby showers, and the sort.
At this time, I, too, was allured by the magical qualities of a perfect French macaron. I made it a mission to try as many of the macarons sold around Los Angeles and Orange County. It was a pricey yet satisfying adventure.
Since then, I say that I’m over it. I’m over you, French macaron. But then I see a display case full of these colorful, fragile, little jewels and all of a sudden, I relapse. Its one of those love-hate relationships. I love the way they taste, the way they fit between my fingers, but I hate how much they cost at bakeries and speciality stores.
I understand that almond flour, especially blanched almond flour, is expensive, but I don’t get how some places charge more than $2 a piece for their macarons. My first birthday with my boyfriend he bought me 2 dozen macarons from Paulette (now called ‘lette); that’s when I knew he was totally head over heels in love with me.
But seriously, what’s not to love about these precious little things. You get the crunchy shell, the decadent filling, and the explosion of flavor and textures in your mouth. I really like the combination of the sweet almond cookie against the salty, buttery caramel. Its amazing, and once I again, I love caramel macarons.
Its best to measure all the ingredients out by weight, but if you don’t have a scale I’ve also included the approximate measurements in cups. Although if you want to be a serious macaron making machine, I highly suggest buying a kitchen scale.
Sea Salt Caramel Macarons
- 250 grams (about 2 1/2 cups) almond flour*
- 250 grams (about 2 cups) confectioners' sugar
- 190 grams egg whites (about 6 large egg whites)
- 65 grams (5 Tbsp) water
- 250 grams (1 cup + 2 Tbsp) superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried egg white powder
Sea Salt Caramel:
- 250 grams (about 1 cup) heavy cream
- 350 grams (about 1 3/4 cup) superfine sugar
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 350 grams (about 1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- In a food processor, pulse together almond flour and confectioners’ sugar. Sift twice to ensure you will have a nice, smooth shell.
- Divide egg whites into two containers, 95 grams each. Take one portion and pour over sifted almond sugar mixture. Let egg white sit on top and set mixture aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip together second portion of egg whites and dried egg white powder. Whip on low-medium speed.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan mix together water and superfine sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook mixture to 250 degrees F. Do not stir or agitate the mixture while it is heating up. If you must, you have gently swirl the pan by hand. Stirring it will cause sugar crystals to form.
- Once sugar mixture has reached desired temperature, remove from heat and pour a steady stream into the whipping egg whites. Add this point, the egg whites should be foamy before you add the sugar. After all the sugar has been added, increase speed to high until mixture doubles in size. Turn down to half speed and cool down to thicken. When mixture has cooled to about 120 degrees F is it ready to use. While you are waiting for the mixture to cool down, take the almond sugar mixture and fold into the egg whites sitting on top. Mix until the dry mixture is moist and wet.
- Fold 1/3 of whipped meringue into the almond sugar mixture. Continue to add 1/3 of meringue until all has been incorporated. Continue to fold mixture until the batter is not too liquidly and not too stiff. If you pull a line in the batter, it should slowly sink back together. Others have said it should flow like magma.
- Transfer batter to a piping bag fitted with an 11mm plain round piping tip. Line a couple of baking sheet trays with parchment paper or a silpat mat. Pipe batter onto prepared baking sheet trays. I like to pipe 2 inch rounds, but you can choose to go smaller or larger. Pipe rounds at least 1/2 inch apart from each other. Once you are finished with one tray, tap the bottom of the tray against the table to release any air bubbles. Let shells air dry until shells form a skin. Depending on the temperature and humidity of your room, drying time can vary.
- Bake in a preheated 315 degree F oven. Bake for 8 minutes to allow feet to form. Then rotate the pan and bake for another 8-10 minutes until macarons are done. Remove sheet tray from oven and transfer to cooling rack. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before peeling macarons off parchment. Once macarons are cooled to room temperature, pair similar sized/shaped macarons together then fill with caramel.
Sea Salt Caramel:
- Using a heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat the sugar on high until it melts. Lower the heat and allow the syrup to color. Make sure not to agitate the sugar to prevent crystallization. Remove from heat once syrup is aromatic and amber in color.
- Warm up heavy cream in the microwave for 45 seconds-1 minute. Add in warm cream to sugar syrup and whisk. Be careful as the mixture will bubble and steam vigorously. Continue to whisk until mixture has slightly cooled. Add in the butter and salt. Continue to whisk until homogenized. Let cool to room temperature.
- You can use blanched or raw almond flour. I used raw almond flour (from Trader Joe’s) which results in that speckled brown shell. If you want a clean colored macaron shell, go with blanched almond flour.
- Caramel fillings should be heated to between 250-265 degrees F. Be careful not to heat beyond 270 degrees because the caramel will separate. Otherwise, if you have runny caramel thats more like caramel sauce.
Reader Questions and Reviews
Love your post! Macarons are on my bucket list to make this year. Your lovely post has convinced me! These are lovely, wonderful flavors! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Carol! Have fun making macarons!
Your macarons look so good and I love the sound of the salted caramel filling!
Thanks, Rosie! The salted caramel is the best part. I made extra so I could drizzle it in my coffee and over vanilla ice cream…
these are one of my favorite flavors of macarons!
Me too! This and chocolate with caramel. Yum!
I too fell out of love with the macaron, for awhile. But like you I’m back! Beautiful photos and that caramel looks heavenly! Happy to find you via TS!
Thanks, Maria! So glad you found me!
I love the speckled shells! These turned out so beautifully.
Now I definitely have to buy a cooking thermometer! I’ve tried another recipe but it didn’t work for me so I guess I have to give yours a go :)
Your macarons are perfect! The flavour combination also sounds amazing :) I’ve never tried the Italian meringue method, but sure looks reliable.
Hey, these look amazing! I looove your blog. Just wondering if I could leave the egg white powder out of this recipe? Would I add more egg whites?
Hi! Thanks, Rachel! The egg white powder allows the batter to have more protein and stability without added moisture. If you add more egg whites, you batter will be more runny and it will take longer for the shell to form. If you don’t want to use white egg powder, I suggest letting your egg whites mature by loosely covering the egg whites and letting them sit overnight (or two nights) at room temperature.
hi, how do you get the caramel filling to stay in the shell? i tried a salted caramel filing and each time the shells kept sliding off.
Hi Vy, sometimes caramel does not set up and harden if not cooked to the proper temperature. Caramel fillings should be heated to between 250-265 degrees F. Be careful not to heat beyond 270 degrees because the caramel will separate.
Otherwise, if you have runny caramel thats more like caramel sauce, I suggest letting them chill in the freezer or fridge. Remove them just before serving so they don’t start sliding. Hope that helps!
These look too perfect to eat! I just discovered your blog and absolutely love it. I featured this recipe in my blogpost here: http://infinitelittlepleasures.blogspot.com/2013/05/who-stole-cookie-from-cookie-jar.html
Thanks, Nicole! Glad you found me! :)
Tried other recipes for salted caramel, this one is by far the best. It’s so addictive! !
Used it with macaroons, my recipe is the French mmeringue one, it works for me, can’t be bothered with all that sugar thermometer business and who’s going to clean thepan afterwards!
Thanks for recipe, you’re a star.
Thanks, Fesal! Glad you like the salted caramel!
How much water do I add to the sugar to make the filling?
I melted the sugar dry without any water. It cooks faster without the water, but can also burn much faster. You can add as much as 1 cup of water to the sugar to cook it. The more water you add, the longer it will take to cook. I suggest adding between 1/4- 1/2 cup water.
Hi, beautiful macarons!!, I just have one question, for the decoration did you add the salt over the macaron before baking or after baking them? I tried to put a pinch of salt before baking them but the salt seems to melt the top of the shell.
Hi Beatriz! Thank you! After piping the macarons onto baking sheet, I let them sit out for about 3-5 minutes to slightly set. Then I sprinkled over the sea salt on top. You can also sprinkle the sea salt right after removing them from the oven. If the salt doesn’t want to stick, lightly moisten the shells with a tiny bit of water or egg white.
Hi, I have used the caramel sauce to fill some chocolate macaroons. It is very runny and I followed the recipe correctly. I have just seen another recipe that uses a lot less butter. Is the amount on here correct?
Hi Rachel, I’m sorry the caramel recipe didn’t work out for you. This is the caramel recipe I’ve been using for years.
Would you say that the shell is a basic one, in that it can be used as a base for other fillings?
Yes, this is a basic macaron shell recipe. You can use other fillings.
Maryanne, the recipe is excellent, with the salse caramel, now , imagine the same recipe with our DULCE DE LECHE…. DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!
Any chance I could use ready made caramel cubes, soften and stir in the sea salt?
Hi Marge. Yes, you can swap in caramel cubes and add sea salt according to taste.