These toffee apple macarons are the perfect treat for Autumn! Crisp chewy shells, sweet & salty caramel buttercream and spiced apple compote. So delicious and so fancy!!
I absolutely love macaron’s. But oh boy are they a finicky beast to get right. You’ll find so many macaron recipes online; some the French method, some the Italian. Telling you to stir the mixture 40 times clockwise, some telling you to leave the shells out to rest for 1 hour, 2 hours.. Some even telling you to age your egg whites first! There’s so much information out there it can be hard to know where to begin. But I really think this recipe works so well, and has given me the best and most consistent results in all my testing. You need a little bit of patience, and a few pieces of equipment but they are so delicious that its so worth it!
These toffee apple macarons in particular, are SO good. They’re the perfect taste of Autumn in my eyes. The crisp and chewy shell. Salted caramel American buttercream thats light and fluffy. Spiced apple compote, which is warming and sweet. It’s the colder seasons, packaged up in a tiny delicate dessert.
Key Ingredients You’ll Need
- Ground Almonds (or Almond Flour) – Most macarons are made with ground almonds, and if this is your first time making them it’s definitely best to start traditional. Using different nuts like pistachio or hazelnut can massively change the structure of the macaron shell, so you will need to use a specific recipe for those.
- Egg Whites – You will need about 6 large eggs to make these macarons, but only the egg whites. You can save the egg yolks in a separate bowl and then make a quick custard to use them up! But make sure not to let even the tiniest drop of egg yolk into your whites, as this will stop your meringue from forming properly!
- Icing Sugar (or Confectioners Sugar) – You’ll not only need icing sugar in the macaron shells themselves, but also in the buttercream. Macaron’s are very sweet, but they’re not called a sweet treat for nothing!
How to make toffee apple macarons
I use the Italian method for my macarons, so that means pouring a hot sugar syrup into whipped egg whites to create an Italian meringue. This is then mixed with a paste of icing sugar, almonds and more egg white, before baking straight away. I find the Italian method makes for a much more stable meringue, which translates into more consistent macarons. You don’t have to worry quite so much about deflating the meringue in the mixing stage, and with this particular recipe you don’t need to let the shells ‘set’ before baking, so its much quicker too!
Making the meringue
The first step in making an Italian meringue, is to make sure your bowl is absolutely grease free. Any tiny spot of grease will hinder your meringue, so be sure! You don’t want to waste your time or ingredients! Then weigh out your egg whites and add to the bowl. Ideally you really want to use a stand mixer here, as you’ll need to have the egg whites whipping, at the same time as the sugar syrup is bubbling away. If you only have an electric hand-whisk, make sure you have all your ingredients ready in advance and be prepared to multi-task. But carefully please, as the sugar syrup will be very hot.
So once you have your egg whites ready in a bowl, and your caster sugar and water in a small pan, you can begin. The pan should be placed over a high heat, for the sugar to dissolve into the water whilst simmering away. You’ll need to use a thermometer to check the temperature of the syrup (I use a digital thermometer at its more accurate), and once it gets to 110C/230F you can begin whipping your egg whites. You want the egg whites to be at soft peaks, once your syrup reaches 120C/248F, so make sure to keep an eye on both.
Once the syrup is at 120C/248F, take it off the heat straight away and pour it down the side of the bowl whilst the whisk is still going. You want to make sure the syrup runs down the side of the bowl, so it cools a little before hitting the egg whites. That’s also why you want to keep the whites moving, so that the syrup doesn’t cook the whites. I find it best to turn the mixer down to a medium speed whilst you’re doing this, to avoid any of the hot syrup being flicked onto you! Once all the syrup has been added you can turn the mixer back up to the top speed, and keep whisking until you have a glossy white meringue, thats lukewarm to touch.
How to make the paste
The paste is made up of ground almonds, icing sugar, egg whites and your choice of food colouring. I find it easiest to mix this all up in a large bowl, as the mixture is really stiff you need room to work! However, before you get anything in the bowl you first need to blitz and sieve your ground almonds and icing sugar.
The finer your mixture is, the smoother your macaron shells will be. If you leave larger lumps of ground almond, the shells will have a rough texture and they’ll taste a little grainy. So firstly, I like to blitz both together in a food processor and then sieve the mixture twice. Yes twice. The finer the mixture, the more professional looking in my opinion!
Then you can add the sieved mixture to your bowl, and mix in the egg whites. Then the food colouring. I used Rainbow Dust ProGel Leaf Green, but you can use whichever green you prefer, or any colour if you don’t like green! Though I do personally prefer to keep the macaron colour fitting the flavour!
Now you may be thinking the bright green colour above doesn’t match the light green of the baked meringues, and you’d be right! You need to make sure the paste is a much darker colour than you want, because as you add the meringue it will lighten it. If you start with too light a coloured paste, your macaron shells will end up so pale they look white.
So once both your meringue and paste is ready, you are ready to begin the macaronage process. This is where you need to be quite careful as you don’t want deflate all the air in the meringue, but equally you do want to combine it thoroughly. It’s a delicate balancing act, that I do in three stages (pictures above L-R);
- Step 1 – Add 1/3 of the meringue mixture, and fairly vigorously mix into the paste. This will loosen the thick paste, which will help you to combine the rest with the meringue.
- Step 2 – Add another 1/3 of the meringue, and fold into the mixture gently but thoroughly.
- Step 3 – Add the final 1/3 of the meringue, and fold into the mixture very gently. The mixture will have a lava like feel to it.
The more you make macarons the more you will get a feel for how gently to fold, and when the mixture is ready. As I said at the start, macarons are a finicky beast and you will improve with each batch!
The final step is to pipe and bake the macarons, which is my cue to give a disclaimer about oven temperatures. They’re all different! Do yourself a favour and get yourself an oven thermometer, and also cut yourself some slack. Pretty much every time I’ve baked macarons I’ve had a few in the batch that have cracked in the oven, or left a hollow shell. But I don’t beat myself up for it, because my oven is a domestic oven. Even professionals using fancy ovens have a few cracked ones here and there.
Tips & Tricks
Yes! Macaron shells freeze really well! Keep them in an air-tight container and use within one month. I actually like to fill them when they are straight out of the freezer as they’re easier to handle!
This could be for a number of reasons, but most likely they weren’t in the oven long enough. Use the time in the recipe below as a guide, you know your oven best after all! Do bakes usually take a few minutes longer? If so, add a few minutes onto the baking time.
There could be a few reasons, but likely its due to over-mixing at the macaronage stage! Make sure to be very gentle when adding the meringue, and once its ready get it into a piping bag straight away. Don’t be tempted to keep stirring!
So there we have it, my toffee apple macarons! I’ve focused heavily on the shells in this post and not the filling, because the filling is so simple in comparison. A simple American buttercream with salted caramel stirred in, and a quick spiced apple compote made in one saucepan. The combination of flavours with the sweet shells, is SO good. And makes you think of cosy Autumn nights in, by the fire with a hot drink. Just the best!
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Toffee Apple Macarons
- 275 g caster sugar
- 100 ml water
- 95 g egg whites approx. 3 large eggs
- 275 g ground almonds
- 275 g icing sugar
- 95 g egg whites approx. 3 large eggs
- green food colouring
- 3 medium royal gala apples can also use Jazz or Braeburn apples
- 25 g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp water
- 30 g caster sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
Salted Caramel Buttercream
- 100 g unsalted butter room temperature
- 200 g icing sugar
- 80 g salted caramel sauce
- For the meringue: Firstly, preheat the oven to 145C/120C Fan/Gas Mark 1. In a large bowl, fitted to a stand mixer, add the 95g egg whites. Then mix together the caster sugar and water in a small saucepan, then place over a high heat and bring to the boil. Using a sugar thermometer check the temperature of the sugar syrup. Once this has reached 110C, start whisking the egg whites on a medium speed until they’ve reached soft peaks. Once the sugar syrup has reached 120C (and the egg whites are at soft peaks), take off the heat and pour the syrup down the side of the bowl being careful not to splash yourself. Then whisk on full speed for 5 minutes, until the meringue is glossy and thick, and the bowl is lukewarm to touch.
- For the paste: Whilst the meringue is whisking, blend together the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor until fine. Then sieve twice into a large bowl and discard any chunks. Add the 95g egg whites and combine thoroughly by hand. Then add your food colouring in – noting that the colour will get lighter once you add the meringue.
- Then add the meringue in three stages: 1st stage – fold one third in fairly vigorously, until well combined.2nd stage – fold the second third in gently.3rd stage – fold the final third in very gently. Then add the mixture to a piping bag and snip off the end to create a 1cm wide hole. Line a large baking tray with baking paper, and pipe circles roughly 3-4cm wide with a 2cm gap between each. Then heavily drop the baking tray 3 times onto your work surface to remove any air bubbles and bake immediately for 19 minutes. Leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes, before sliding the baking paper onto a cooling rack. Once the shells are almost finished baking, pipe your next tray ready to put into the oven. Continue this process until all the mixture is used – you will need to pipe 60 shells to create 30 macarons. Then set all aside to cool.
- For the apple compote: Peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks and place into a saucepan. Then add the butter, water, caster sugar, cinnamon stick, lemon juice and stir to combine. Place over a medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, breaking up the apples as they start to soften. Keep cooking until the apples start to caramelise, then take off the heat. Discard the cinnamon stick, then mash the apples until they are completely broken down. Then spread onto a plate to cool and set aside.
- For the buttercream: Place the butter into a medium bowl and beat using an electric hand-whisk until lightened in colour and creamy. Then add the icing sugar and beat on a low speed until combined. Then increase the speed and beat until light and fluffy. Finally, mix in the salted caramel sauce until well combined. Then place into a piping bag.
- To assemble: Pipe a ring of buttercream around the outer edge of half of the macaron shells, then fill the holes with the apple compote. Finally, sandwich with the remaining macaron shells.
Macarons can be kept in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to one week.
Macaron shells can be frozen in an air-tight container for up to one month, before being filled. Apple compote can be made up to 2 days in advance, and kept in the fridge until used. Salted caramel buttercream can be made up to one week in advance, and kept in the fridge until used. Whip the buttercream briefly before using.