Popcorn is one of my very favorite snack foods.  I love a lazy evening after the kids are in bed, watching a movie with Ben and a big bowl of popcorn between us.  Unfortunately, Ben does not share my love of popcorn because of its affinity for sticking in your throat, teeth, etc.  As a result I don’t end up making it nearly as often as I would like, and when I do make it, I end up eating most of it by myself (that part is not so bad, I guess).  As soon as Courtney’s visit was official, we began planning what we would bake together.  The only thing she said we absolutely had to make was some kind of French macarons, since she had never made them before.  When I asked her what flavor she wanted to try, she mentioned this salted popcorn macaron with caramel filling.  It combines three of my favorite things into one awesome dessert, so of course I was immediately sold on the idea.

Unfortunately despite all the batches of macarons I’ve made before, our first attempt was a flop.  I’m still not entirely sure what went wrong, but for the second round we used a different base recipe with a few minor changes and had success!  The key to these is to make sure the popcorn you use is nice and salty to balance out the sweetness of the cookie shell and the caramel.   They really do taste just like the popcorn…it’s more than just a garnish!  We opted to add popcorn to all of the macaron shells.  It definitely helped the popcorn flavor come through, but on the other hand it did make filling the cookies a bit messier.  Since they did not have a flat bottom to rest on, they were uneven and some of the caramel dripped out of the sides.  This could be remedied by either making half the shells without popcorn or filling them with something a bit more solid like a caramel buttercream.  However, I don’t think I would change a thing next time I make them.  They were a bit messy, yes, but the flavor was awesome and I found these totally irresistible.

Note: The measurements for the macaron shells are listed by weight.  A kitchen scale is necessary for making macarons.  Attempting to make these by volume measure would likely be a waste of time and ingredients, so volume measurements are not provided.

  • Yield about 20-24 sandwich cookies


For the macarons:
110 grams almonds (blanched or slivered)
200 grams confectioners’ sugar
90 grams egg whites, aged at room temperature for 24 hours or 3-5 days in the refrigerator
25 grams granulated sugar
¾ cup buttered and salted popcorn, pulsed or chopped into fine chunks

For the caramel filling:
½ cup sugar
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
¼ cup water
6 tbsp. heavy cream
Pinch of fleur de sel


  • 01

    To make the macarons, pulse the almonds and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor until finely ground and well blended.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy.  Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until a smooth, shiny meringue with stiff peaks forms.  Add the ground almond mixture to the bowl with the meringue and quickly but gently fold together using a wide rubber spatula until no streaks remain.  You want to achieve a thick batter that ribbons or flows from the spatula when lifted.

  • 02

    Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.  Transfer the batter to a piping bag fitted with a plain wide round tip.  Pipe into small rounds on the prepared baking sheets (each round should be about 1-1½ inches in diameter), spaced about 1 inch apart.  Sprinkle the rounds lightly with the chopped popcorn pieces (leave half plain if you want them to lie flat).  Let sit at room temperature for about an hour to develop a hard shell.

  • 03

    Preheat the oven to 280˚F.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on size.  Transfer the pans to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely before moving the cookies.

  • 04

    To make the caramel filling, combine the sugar, cream of tartar and water in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat without stirring until the sugar begins to melt and turn golden at the edges.  Continue cooking, swirling the pan to cover evenly, until the sugar turns golden amber.  Carefully pour the cream down the side of the pan in a slow, steady stream, stirring constantly until combined.  Stir in the fleur de sel.  Transfer the caramel to a bowl and let cool.  It will thicken as it cools.

  • 05

    Once the cookies are totally cooled, match them up by size.  Pipe a small dollop of caramel on the flat side of one cookie of each pair.  Sandwich together with the remaining cookie, pushing the caramel to the edges.  Store in an airtight container.