PORTLAND, Maine — Kristen Lawson Perry is one of the bakers at the 1690 House Bakeshop and Cafe in Wells, Maine. Desserts are her specialty! And we were lucky to have her stop by the 207 kitchen to show us a few. She gives some great tips about working with meringue, and how to put together these light and sweet macarons. 

French Macaron
For the cookie:
125 grams almond flour (about 1.3 cups)
35 grams brown sugar, dark (about 1/5 cup)
150 grams confectioners sugar (about 1 1/4 cups)

100 grams egg whites (3)
60 grams confectioners sugar (about 1/2 cup)
2 Tablespoons of cocoa

For the ganache:
454 grams (1 lb.) heavy cream (almost 2 cups)
454 grams dark chocolate, chopped (a little less than four cups)

For the caramel:
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 cups sugar
water as needed
salt


Method of Preparation:

Prepare 2 pieces of parchment paper that will fit a sheet pan by tracing circles onto one side with a pencil, spacing out each circle by a couple inches. Flip the paper over and place onto sheet pan. Alternately, use a silpat mat designed for macarons (silpat mats have the circular markings printed on them).
Sift the almond flour, brown sugar, cocoa and confectioners sugar together into a bowl.
Start whipping the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and gradually add the sugar until it is all incorporated and the meringue is stiff and glossy. Fold the meringue into the dry mixture carefully as to not deflate the meringue. Fold until all ingredients are equally incorporated.
Pour mixture into a piping bag, fitted with a large round tip.
Pipe, holding the bag straight up and down, a small mound of batter to fill the circles on the paper or mat. Continue to pipe until all the circles are filled or you run out of batter.
Gently tap the bottom of the pan of all sides to knock out any air bubbles that have collected in the batter.
Let sit out for about 30 minutes at room temperature until the shell forms a skin and is no longer sticky to the touch.
Bake macaron shells in a 287 degree F oven for 14-18 minutes, turning the pans once during baking. (Yes! 287 degrees! That is the perfect temperature for these cookies, between 275 and 300. That is not a typo!)
Remove from oven and let cool completely.

For the fillings:
To make the ganache, heat the heavy cream up in a small saucepot to a scald and pour over the chopped chocolate. Gently whisk together, starting just in the middle of the bowl, and working the whisk outward, until smooth and shiny. Set aside and let cool, but do not refrigerate unless there are leftovers.
To make the salted caramel, heat the heavy cream and butter just to a scald, remove from heat and set aside.
In a very clean, heavy bottomed saucepot, pour in the corn syrup, then the sugar and then add just enough water to wet the sugar, being careful not to splash sugar granules onto the sides of the pot. Heat this mixture until all the sugar has dissolved and liquid becomes an amber caramel color. Remove from heat and gently add a little bit of the heavy cream mixture to it, slowly. This will bubble up rapidly, so be very careful. Stirring will cause the mixture to bubble and rise more, so let it calm down before stirring or adding more. Once all of the cream mixture is added, finish stirring and add in a pinch of salt. Let cool at room temperature, stirring the mixture occasionally to encourage even cooling.

Assembling:
Peel macaron shells from the paper, gently and flip over. With all the undersides up, gently mist with a spray bottle of water. This helps keep the macaron moist. Match halves of the shells by size and line up. On one shell, pipe a circle of ganache on the edge of the macaron. Pipe a little salted caramel into the middle of the ganache ring. Place the matching shell onto the top, forming a sandwiched cookie. Repeat with remaining shells. Store in an airtight container and in the fridge up to 5 days.

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