Actually, this seems to be the basic need of the human heart in nearly every great crisis - a good hot cup of coffee. ~ Alexander King
I know I've been moaning about exams and studying for a while. Now, looking back on it though, it really wasn't all doom and gloom.
Studying/working-till-all-hours teaches you all sorts of new skills and life lessons, like: how to take strategic 10 minute power-naps; how to disguise how scummy your hair is by putting it up in an alty top-knot; and most importantly: the art of getting as much caffeine into your system as possible.
Lately, I've been gorging myself on Nestle Caramel Latte sachets. I know all you coffee snobs out there are gasping in horror. I like to think of these instant coffee drinks as a caffeinated coffee flavoured treat rather than an actual coffee.
Caramelly and frothy and with that essential caffeine kick. What's not to love?
However, there is only so much coffee-drinking one can before the old bladder doth protesteth. That's when you get to the coffee-eating, that's where the coffee baking comes in: Coffee Macarons with Salted Caramel Filling.
Think caramel latte but a macaron. Words can't espresso how good these are.
This is my third attempt at macarons and I think my most successful to date. Sure, a tray or two still came out sans feet and looking like meringue blobs but the flavour combo was a total winner. And that's not just the caffeine addiction talking.
The coffee gives the macarons a bitter-sweetness that just balances out the salted caramel perfectly. And that ooey gooey caramel goes oh so well with the chewy goodness of the macaron. I can't stop raving about them. Just like how I couldn't stop eating them. Clearly, self control is an issue for me.
In this batch I used moccona granules, which gave the macs wee bursts of intense coffee flavour, and of course, meir mmmm. But next time I think I'll try powdered instant coffee to get a more even scattering of coffee flavour.
And as much trouble as macarons are to make, these really are worth taking time out of your daily grind to try out.
Oh dear, I better stop before I give you all grounds for complaints.
Caramel Latte Macs: Coffee Macarons with Salted Caramel Filling
makes 25 - 30 macaron sandwiches
3 egg whites (~100g)
50 g white sugar
200g icing sugar
110g ground almonds
3 tsp instant coffee
1. Age the eggs whites on a sealed container in the fridge for 24 - 48 hours or heat in microwave on medium-low for 10 seconds to mimic the aging process. Line 3 baking sheets with baking paper. The heavier weight the baking sheet the better. In food processor, blend together the icing sugar, instant coffee, and ground almonds.
2. In a separate, immaculately clean bowl, beat the aged egg whites to soft floppy peaks. Then add sugar gradually, beating continuously, till it's all shiny and glossy.
3. Macaronage: This part requires the old noggin to work a little coz you need to count the number of strokes you are doing as you are mixing! Tip half the almond/icing sugar mixture into the egg whites. Fold in gently for around 10 strokes. Add the rest of the almond/icing sugar mixture and fold for another 20 strokes (i.e. 30 strokes in total). Now, this is a real tricky part to judge but the mixture is ready when it looks like molten lava - a slow blobby oozing consistency...this should take no more than around 50 folds in total. (You really do just get the hang of it when you've made these a couple of times.)
4. Spoon the macaron mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle and pipe on to lined your cookie trays into roughly 1 inch circles, around 2 cm apart. Drop the trays on to the bench a couple of times to get the bubbles to come to the surface and pop them with a toothpick. Leave the trays of piped cookies to air for 60-90 minutes for the shells to form skins (this is crucial to get the highly sought after feet.) How long it takes will depend on how humid your place is.
5. Bake at 150oC for 11-12 minutes. Resist the urge to open the oven door before it's time! Cool completely on the tray before piping/spooning the caramel filling (recipe below) in the middle and making into sandwiches. Put the macs into an airtight container in the fridge overnight to "mature" before eating. If you can wait that long that is! It is supposed to improve the flavour and allow the macarons to absorb some moisture from the filling to get the perfect chewy texture.
Salted Caramel Filling
1 cup brown sugar
50 g salted butter
1/2 cup cream
1/4 tsp salt
1. Melt brown sugar and butter in a small saucepan stirring constantly over medium heat.
2. When melted together, add cream and salt and stir to mix. Let the mixture bubble for about 1 minute (stirring). Taste and add more salt if required. Take off the heat and let cool.
3. Pipe or spoon the caramel into the middle of a cookie. If the caramel sets too soon and is no longer oozy, microwave for 10 seconds to soften.
4. You can use any excess caramel over icecream, over chocolate cake/cupcakes, pancakes. Or just eat it with a spoon. Trust me it's good.