When I heard about the latest MacTweets challenge, my brain immediately went to caramel popcorn. My friend had an idea for making hot dog length macaron shells, but I saw that it had already been done and stuck with the original plan.
I actually never ever eat popcorn. I don't like eating anything that gets stuck in my teeth, mainly because I'm so prone to teeth/cavity issues in general. And I've never cared for popcorn too much so in recent years I had stopped eating it entirely. But for MacTweets, I purchased some caramel popcorn! More specifically, the Crunch n' Munch caramel peanut popcorn flavor.
Yesterday there was a Share Our Strength Food Blogger's bake sale nationwide that I participated in. I did the sale last year in Atlanta, and this time I did it in St Louis! It was really great to meet other bloggers, especially people whose work I had been reading. I even worked a shift and it was so fun!
I had wanted to make an assortment of macarons for the event but the weather was deceptive. It was in the 90s and sunny but very very humid. I made one batch that turned out sticky and unattractive due to the humidity in the air and then just gave up.
But then! Thursday was the one dry day out of the whole week. When I stepped outside I no longer felt disgusting with my hair becoming frizzy... So naturally I raced back home and whipped up these macs. I was still skeptical that they would work and in that case I didn't want to waste too many eggs, so I didn't make too many. I decided to try my popcorn idea and also take the macs to the bake sale... two birds, one stone, whoo!
I made the macarons as per usual. I was really racking my brains trying to figure out how to get the popcorn flavor in there. I didn't want to put the popcorn directly into the mac shells... So instead I pureed them and sprinkled them on top of the shells before baking.
Although pretty, it didn't help with the popcorn flavor much. I have some ground popcorn left and am debating rolling the mac in the ground popcorn next time.
The filling was a salted caramel chocolate ganache. 'Nuff said?
I was actually shocked that the macs sold out so quickly at the bake sale. I've never sold them before though, always just given them away. It's nice to know that people would pay for it, and especially for a good cause :)
I really enjoyed the flavor of these, but the salted caramel probably had something to do with that. I also swapped the almond and sugar ratio again, and no one who bought them or tasted them complained about that.
These may be my favorite macarons... Simple, salty and sweet, and the ground popcorn on top added some elegance to the presentation.
Salted Caramel Popcorn Macarons
110gm almond meal/flour
60gm powdered sugar
60gm aged egg whites (about 2 eggs) - best at room temp or left out at least a day
40gm granulated sugar
1/2 cup popcorn of choice
Preheat the oven to 280 degrees F.
Grind 1/2 cup popcorn down to little crumbs.
Beat the egg whites in a bowl, slowly adding in the granulated sugar. Beat it till it gets glossy and until you can hold the bowl upside down and the whites don't move. Then fold in the almonds and the powdered sugar and any food coloring, preferably a gel color (liquid coloring may alter the consistency). Don't overfold, just mix till incorporated.
Use a piping bag with a round tip and pipe out 1 inch circles holding the bag perpendicular to the sheet.
Sprinkle the ground popcorn liberally over the top.
Let the sheet sit out at least 20 minutes or until the shells look a bit dried out.
Bake for 15 minutes and let it cool before you try to remove them.
Salted Caramel Ganache Filling
4oz chocolate (I used semi-sweet, but dark or milk is fine)
3oz half-n-half or heavy whipping cream
4 Tbs Salted caramel (to taste)
Salted Caramel sauce:
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt (add more according to taste/preference)
Put the water and the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. I would go ahead and measure out the cream and the vanilla since the sugar crystallizes so quickly. Keep an eye over the water/sugar mixture and keep stirring. As soon as it turns golden, take it off the heat. Some people wait till it turns brown but it tastes too burnt to me by that point, so I would stop after it's been golden for a few seconds. Slowly (it will splatter) add the cream and vanilla and keep stirring with a spoon over and over until it's fully incorporated. Then pour into a jar and let it cool.
Melt the chocolate and cream together and let cool a bit, add in the cooled caramel to
taste. I added in about 4 tablespoons.