Perfect for afternoon tea or a sweet treat, these little baked goodies are filled with oozing salted caramel and make a wonderful food gift, too! For the Macarons: 150g ground almonds 150g icing sugar 55g egg whites 1 tsp 2 drops brown food coloring 115g castor sugar 40g mineral water 55g egg whites Method: 1. At least a day (24 hours) before attempting the macarons, separate the egg whites from the yolks and let them rest in the fridge (it is too humid and hot here for them to rest on the counter for more than a few hours) to age and ‘liquefy’ (in the master’s words). 2. Sift the icing sugar and ground almonds individually to get rid of the large lumps. Then, sift the icing sugar TOGETHER with the ground almonds. This is known as your “tant-pour-tant” (literally, so much for so much or equal parts). Mix in the food coloring into the first 55g of egg whites. Then, combine these colored egg whites into your tant-pour-tant. Mix well and leave this aside. 3. For the remaining 55g of egg whites, place it in a clean mixing bowl. Next, heat the castor sugar and water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Do use a candy thermometer – allow the mixture to boil until it reads 118°C. However, once the syrup reaches the 115°C mark, start whisking the egg whites. The sugar syrup should read 118°C just as the egg whites reach a soft peak (the timing is pretty accurate). Pour the sugar syrup down the sides of the bowl and continue whisking the egg whites until you achieve a stiff peak. The egg whites should read about 50°C when stiff peaks are achieved. 4. Fold in the egg whites in 3 additions into your tant-pour-tant mixture, gently folding the batter until it is glossy and ‘flows like magma’. I generally use the indicator of how long a fold takes to ‘dissolve into itself’ – about 15 to 20 seconds to check if my batter is ready. 5. Pour the batter into a pastry bag filled with a plain tip (about 10-15mm in diameter should be just right) and begin piping the mixture into circles of about 3cm in diameter onto your baking sheets lined with parchment paper. If you have problems piping evenly sized shells, do print out a template or you can trace out 3.5cm rounds on the back of your parchment paper. Since the shells will spread out a little, do pipe the shells a little smaller than the circles you have drawn. Leave a 2cm space in between each shell. After you are done piping, rap the baking sheet against your work surface to ensure that there are no air bubbles trapped in the shells. 6. Allow the shells to develop a ‘crust’ – this crust is simply a skin that ensures that the shell will not stick to your finger. It literally feels like a thin membrane. For a humid environment like Singapore, try to work in an air-conditioned environment or you can place the shells in front of a fan. My shells took about 1 hour to develop a crust. 7. Preheat the oven to 160°C (some recommend 180°C but I find that 160°C works best for my oven). Place the tray in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. At the 5th minute, the feet should have developed. At the 8th and 11th minute, do open the oven door a little to release the build up of steam. If your macaron shells start to brown, your shells are overcooked. What I do is to remove the tray from the oven at the 12th minute and flip one shell over to check if it adheres to the baking paper. If it does, put the tray back to bake for a few more minutes; if not, the shells are done. 8. Once out of the oven, remove the shells from the baking sheet (still on the parchment sheet) and allow them to cool on a cooling rack. This will ensure that the shells don’t continue to cook on the hot baking sheet. Once the shells are cool enough to handle, remove them carefully from the parchment sheet (ideally they should not stick at all) and pair them up. 9. Fill the shells with your desired filling and store in the refrigerator for at least 24-48 hours before consuming, to allow for an ‘osmosis’ of the buttercream to the shells. For the salted caramel buttercream filling 100g sugar 115g whipping cream 15g butter 1 tsp Zuuna Himalayan Pink Sea Salt – Fine Grain 70g butter, softened. Method: 1. Add half of the sugar to a saucepan and allow it to melt before adding the remaining half of the sugar. Do not stir the mixture and allow all the sugar to melt to a amber color. 2. At the same time, bring the cream to a simmer. 3. Once the sugar has turned a dark amber color, remove from heat and add the first 15g of butter. Stir quickly and be careful as the mixture might splatter. Then, add in the cream, which has been simmering, and stir quickly to incorporate. 4. Put the saucepan back onto a medium heat and allow it to boil until it reads 108°C on the candy thermometer. Pour the mixture into a heatproof dish to stop the mixture from cooking and allow it to cool. 5. Once the caramel mixture has cooled, stir in Zuuna Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, making sure it dissolves. Begin beating the softened 70g of butter for about 5-10 minutes, or until it becomes soft and fluffy. Add in the cooled caramel mixture in two additions, making sure that the caramel is fully incorporated into the fluffy butter. Place the mixture into a piping bag and your salted caramel buttercream is ready to be piped! Totally yummy!