These salted caramel macarons are made with brown sugar shells, caramel swiss meringue buttercream, and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce!
Made with brown sugar rather than granulated sugar, the macaron shells bake up with a natural light beige color and a slight molasses flavor. Each bite through the chewy shells into the silky swiss meringue buttercream and rich salted caramel sauce is pure magic.
- White Vinegar: To ensure that your meringue remains stable, clean and wipe down all appliances with white vinegar.
- Powdered Sugar: You’ll need powdered sugar for the macaron shells.
- Almond Flour: Be sure to use extra fine almond flour to get those super smooth shells!
- Egg Whites: You’ll need about 3 egg whites for the shells. Don’t worry about bringing them to room temperature because you’ll just heat them up over a double boiler to make a swiss meringue! You'll also need two more for the swiss meringue buttercream.
- Sugar: To give the shells some color, add brown sugar to the egg whites when making the swiss meringue. It will only take a couple minutes for the sugar to dissolve into the egg whites, so whisk frequently and watch carefully! You’ll also need 1 cup of granulated sugar for the caramel sauce and ¾ cup for the buttercream.
- Heavy Cream: You'll need ½ cup of lukewarm heavy cream for the caramel sauce.
- Butter: Add 6 tablespoon of butter to the caramel sauce, and ¾ cup to the buttercream.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and individual quantities.
Step by Step Instructions
Macarons are always a process to make, so I recommend breaking this recipe up into two days. On the first day, make the macaron shells and caramel sauce. On the second day make the caramel swiss meringue buttercream, and assemble the macarons!
My 6 essential macaron rules
- Wipe down all bowls and appliances with white vinegar. This will ensure that everything is spotlessly clean and nothing will hinder the stability of the meringue.
- Beat the meringue until STIFF peaks form. The best way to test this is to turn the bowl upside down to make sure that the meringue is stable enough and does not move at all.
- SIFT SIFT SIFT! You need to sift the powdered sugar and almond flour twice to get those smooth macaron shells!
- Mix the batter with a silicone spatula by circling around and straight through the middle. Once all of the dry ingredients are incorporated, deflate the macaron batter by spreading it against the sides of the bowl. This will ensure that the shells do not come out hollow.
- Test the consistency of the batter frequently by drawing a figure eight with the silicone spatula. You should be able to draw a figure eight a few times in a row without the batter breaking. This is how you know the batter is ready to be piped onto a baking sheet.
- Allow the macarons to rest long enough before going into the oven. I would recommend 30-40 minutes of rest time before baking. As they rest, a skin forms on the surface, which is what forces the macarons to bake upwards and grow feet!
The swiss meringue method is my preferred method for making macarons, as it is the simplest and most stable meringue, in my opinion. The egg whites and sugar are combined in one bowl and heated over a double boiler with simmering water until it reaches 120 degrees F. Slightly heating the egg whites stablizes the meringue, which will increase your chances of achieving the correct consistency of macaron batter.
The key is to make sure the batter is mixed properly and the meringue is deflated enough. Once all of the dry ingredients are incorporated, deflate the macaron batter by spreading it against the sides of the bowl. This will ensure that the shells do not come out hollow.
Allow the macarons to rest long enough before going into the oven. I would recommend 30-40 minutes of rest time before baking. As they rest, a skin forms on the surface, which is what forces the macarons to bake upwards and grow feet!
Macarons require a low temperature for baking. I recommend baking them at 300 degrees F for about 12 minutes.
Macarons will last for a few days at room temperature and up to a week in the fridge. I prefer to store them in the fridge not only so they will last longer, but also because I find that they taste even better cold.
Baking in grams
All of the recipes on this blog are carefully developed with gram measurements so you can easily recreate them in your own kitchen with success. Volume measurements are extremely inaccurate and leave room for significant errors. Not all measuring cups are made equally, so your one cup of flour will be different from my one cup of flour. By providing precise measurements in grams (aside from minor ingredients, which are given in tsp/tbsp), you can make these recipes accurately and with less cleanup! All you need is this kitchen scale.
If this still isn't enough to convince you, I have provided volume measurements in the recipe card. If you are interested in understanding the conversions, this is the best conversion chart.
But trust me, once you try baking in grams you'll never turn back!
Happy baking! x
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Salted Caramel Macarons
For the brown sugar macaron shells:
- 130 g powdered sugar
- 120 g almond flour
- 100 g brown sugar
- 105 g (about 3) egg whites,
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
For the salted caramel sauce:
- 200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 30 g (2 tablespoon) water
- 84 g (6 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temp
- 113 g (½ cup) heavy cream, lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
For the caramel swiss meringue buttercream:
- 72 g (about 2) egg whites
- 150 g (¾ cup) granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 170 g (¾ cup) unsalted butter, room temp, on the cooler side
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 200 g caramel sauce, room temp
For the brown sugar macaron shells:
- Prepare a macaron template by using a large piping tip or small round cookie cutter of about 1 ½" in size to trace circles about 2 inches apart on one sheet of parchment paper. You will place this under another piece of parchment paper when ready to pipe the macaron shells.
- In a medium bowl, sift the powdered sugar and almond flour twice. Set aside.
- Next, heat the egg whites and brown sugar over a double boiler until the sugar has dissolved or until the temperature is about 120 degrees F.
- Transfer the egg white mixture to a large bowl or a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk until the meringue reaches soft peaks, then add the vanilla paste.
- Continue whisking the meringue until stiff peaks form. The best way to test if it is ready is by turning the bowl upside down. If the meringue does not fall or move at all, then it is ready.
- Start the macaronage by folding in ⅓ of the dry ingredients. Mix carefully with a silicone spatula by scraping aroung the sides of the bowl, then through the middle of the batter. Do this a few times until it is mostly combined.
- Add the remainder of the dry ingredients, folding with the same gentle method. Once the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, begin spreading the batter along the sides of the bowl to deflate it slightly. I find that this mixing method ensures that the shells do not bake up hollow.
- Continue scraping around the sides of the bowl and through the middle. The mixture is ready when you can draw several figure eights without the batter breaking.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a small round piping tip (I used Ateco 802). Place your macaron template under another piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and pipe perpendicular to fill in each circle. Carefully remove the template and tap the baking sheet on the on counter a few times in order to release any air bubbles. It also helps to bang on the bottom of the baking sheet with your hand.
- Let the macarons rest for about 30-40 minutes, or until they are dry and no batter comes away when you touch them.
- Toward the end of the resting time, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Bake the macarons for about 12 minutes. Allow to cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet.
For the salted caramel sauce:
- In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, cream of tartar, and water.
- Heat over medium high heat, stirring often with a rubber spatula to encourage even cooking. When it comes to a boil reduce heat to medium.
- When the color turns an even medium amber color remove from heat and add the butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing to combine. Then, mix in the heavy cream and vanilla.
- Transfer to a glass jar to cool, stir in a pinch or two of flaky sea salt, then chill in the fridge overnight or until ready to use.*
For the caramel swiss meringue buttercream:
- In a double boiler, heat the egg whites, sugar, and salt, whisking frequently until it reaches 160 degrees F (70 degrees C) or until the sugar is completely dissolved and the egg whites do not feel grainy.
- Transfer the egg white mixture into a bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form. Turn the mixer down to low speed, and wait until the meringue cools down to at least 85 degrees F (30 degrees C).
- Cut the butter into cubes and add to the meringue a few pieces at a time, allowing them to fully incorporate before adding more. Once all of the butter is added, it will likely look curdled, but keep beating for a few more minutes and it will come together.
- Once the buttercream has mostly come together, change the whisk attachment to the paddle and keep mixing on low speed until homogenous and smooth.
- Add the vanilla and caramel sauce, and mix on low speed until fully incorporated.
- Transfer the buttercream to a piping bag with a small star piping tip (I used Ateco 864) and the caramel sauce to piping bag with the tip snipped off.
- Pair the macaron shells up and pipe the buttercream onto the bottom shell, then drizzle the caramel on top. Top with flaky sea salt and place the paired shell on top, pressing down slightly to ensure they stick together.
- The flavor of macaron shells develop more by the second day, so I recommend making them the day before and chilling them overnight, then assemble the next day.
- If you have trouble peeling the macarons off of the parchment once they have cooled, pop them into the freezer for a few minutes and they should come off easily.
- If chilling the caramel sauce overnight, be sure to set it out for about an hour or so to come to room temperature before adding to the swiss meringue buttercream.