October 29, 2011

Opening Night at Saffron + Salted Caramel Macaroons

Thanks to all who came out Wednesday night to my opening at Saffron. That was a room full of love. I promise to let you all know when the small books I'm making in conjunction with the exhibit are available. Kana, the owner of the shop, gave me this beautiful bouquet on my way out that night. The hairy, verdant and Seussian stem you see in the bottom photo is called "Green Tree" and apparently lasts 3-4 weeks in fresh water. 

For those who asked about the salted caramel macaroons I made for the opening, I wanted to share the recipe, adapted from one  I found on Serious Eats. Unlike other macaroons I've made in the past, this recipe starts with a homemade pastry cream, which you fold into the whipped egg whites and coconut. I thought the batter was much more "pasty" and less runny, which helped create a nice exterior shell and keep the cookies extra moist. The salted caramel is super simple to make, and to die for. Make sure to use a good quality large-crystal sea salt. 

Pastry Cream
1/2 cup whole milk (I like Ronnybrook) 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
generous pinch of kosher salt
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cookie Base
14-ounce bags sweetened shredded coconut
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt

Salted Caramel
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
1 tablepoon light corn syrup (I use the type from Wholesome Sweeteners
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoons sea salt

Start by making the pastry cream. Stir together the 1/4 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp flour and salt in a small bowl. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks, then add to the dry mixture, until the texture is pasty. In a saucepan, heat the milk until you see a ring of bubbles around the edges, then slowly add it to the egg/dry mixture while whisking. Return the mixture to medium heat, whisking it vigorously for several minutes until it thickens. (2-3 minutes). Take the pastry cream off the heat, and whisk in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Allow pastry cream to cool completely. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line your backing sheet with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, whip the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks, but are not dry and stiff. Fold in the coconut, sugar, salt and pastry cream. 

Using a teaspoon (and your hands), form the dough into small rounds and place on the baking sheet. You can place them pretty close together; they should spread too much. Bake until golden, about 18 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on the parchment paper while you make the caramel.   

For the caramel, bring the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, water and corn syrup to boil in a saucepan and continue stirring until it turns a warm amber color. Remove it from the heat and add the cream, salt and heavy cream. Let the caramel cool 10 minutes until it is a good drizzling texture, then streak over the cooled macaroons. 

The recipe makes about 40 small macaroons.