When it comes to the list of my food pleasures, smoked salmon on sliced brioche with a thin spreading of caper butter is up there near the top: the smoky saltiness of the salmon, the sweet butteriness of the brioche and the slightly tart capers make for a perfect partnership. These macarons are my bite-sized version of that treat.
A savoury macaron? Really?
This is not as mad an idea as one might think, and I have enjoyed several savoury macarons that have been served as amuses bouches in restaurants; the sweetness from the shell works well with an intensely savoury filling (and the filling does need to be very full-on in terms of its savouriness in a savoury macaron so that the sweetness doesn’t take over).
These macarons are wonderful nibbled with drinks or eaten just as they are. They have the sweetness in the shell, the heat of dried horseradish on top, and are filled with smoked salmon and a little horseradish sauce that has been mixed with a few finely chopped capers. I have also used a filling of cream cheese mixed with horseradish, which works just as well.
These macarons do need to be eaten within a day, although they are unlikely to last that long!
Dehydrated horseradish sauce
I wanted a horseradish flavour to come from the shells as well as in the filling, so I sprinkled some dehydrated horseradish powder over the just-piped shells before letting them rest prior to baking.
As I am currently experimenting with my food dehydrator, I wanted to try it out with horseradish sauce. I took a few teaspoons from a jar of strong horseradish sauce, spreading it very thinly over baking parchment before dehydrating it at 70C for 5 hours. It dries wonderfully and crisps up, making it tuile-like, and is then easy to crumble into a rough powder: intense and delightfully hot!
Now, you can’t use the horseradish in the macaron mixture itself as you would need quite a lot of it to make an impact, and even a little extra ingredients added to a macaron mixture can negatively affect the final shells (cracking, wrinkling or no feet etc); so sprinkling some on top before baking is the way forward.
Without using a dehydrator, you could instead sprinkle a little grated fresh horseradish over the shells: this then toasts up gently during the short bake.
The macaron shells:
I used the standard macaron recipe from my key macaron post here: this post has very detailed instructions along with many tips for making perfect macarons.
This time, though, I replaced just under half of the almonds in the recipe with walnuts as I wanted a slight flavour of walnuts to come through in the shells. And I omitted the food colouring and the fruit powder from that recipe.
The poppy seeds and the horseradish powder were sprinkled onto each of the just-piped shells.
Measuring the ingredients based on the egg whites used
When making macarons in particular, with so many variables that seem to be out to thwart your efforts, measuring really is the first key to success.
I measure everything based on the amount of egg white from however many eggs that I decide to crack open. This is much more sensible than taking out little bits of egg white here and there to match the dry ingredients!
Whatever amount of egg whites you have measured:
- use the same weight in caster sugar
- multiply the weight of the egg whites by 1.25 for the amount of ground almonds
- multiply the weight of the egg whites by 1.25 for the amount of icing sugar
With this particular batch I used 2 egg whites, which came to 88g. So based on that weight I used 88g caster sugar, 110g icing sugar and 110g ground nuts. As I wanted to use some walnuts, the nut content here was 70g ground almonds and 40g ground walnuts. The amount of mixture gave me 78 macaron shells, most of which were small (about 2cm diameter) with a few larger.
Assembling the macarons
Once the macarons have cooled, lift them off the trays, put a little horseradish and caper mixture on half of the shells and top with smoked salmon. Place the other half of the shells on the top. Eat within a day.