I have been dreaming of creating these macarons but couldn't think of exactly how to go about it. When I was putting glitter on the holiday macarons, I realized that I could put the granulated sugar on the tops and then it would stay in place until I torched it. I used a crème brûlée recipe I had that cooks on the stovetop instead of baked in the oven.
I have a friend that ordered macarons from me (my first official order!) and I thought it would be fun to do a variety for her, and also decided to experiment with the crème brûlée ideas. She bought them for her mom, who was visiting, and they both loved the crème brûlée the most! My husband, and son Harrison, also declared them to be their new favorite!
Crème Brûlée Macarons
2/3 c. almond flour (sometimes called meal)
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
3 egg whites (at room temperature or slightly warmed)
5 T. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla
Heat oven to 280 degrees and place the racks on the two lowest positions. Cut pieces of parchment paper to fit two cookie sheets perfectly and then make 1-inch or 1.5-inch circles all over the papers, leaving at least 1/2-inch of space in between circles (I found something in my drawer that looked like an inch and traced it).
If your almond flour seems coarse, run it through a food processor to make it more fine. Sift the almond flour before measuring out 2/3 c. When measuring, make sure to pack it in, as it will be very light weight. Whisk the sifted almond flour and powdered sugar together and set aside.
Place egg whites in the bowl of a mixer and start to mix on med-high with the whisk attachment. When they start to get frothy, add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed and continue to beat until glossy, stiff peaks appear. To test it, pick up the whisk and if the peak at the top doesn't fall, they are ready. If it falls down, keep mixing. Make sure you don't over mix (it will become clumpy). Once you reach the desired stiffness, quickly mix in the vanilla extract.
Transfer egg whites to a large bowl (I often use the same bowl they were originally in). Add a third of the dry mixture and fold it about a dozen times until just mixed. Fold with a spatula, going up the sides, pushing down the center. Finish mixing the rest of the dry ingredients, being careful to fold and not stir. When you lift your spatula, the mixture should pour off like thick molten lava. If it's not flowing when you lift the spatula, it is too thick and needs more mixing. This is the trickiest part, but after experience, you will know when it's perfect. If you're having trouble with this step, there are a lot of videos on the internet that help.
Use a piping bag with a medium-sized round tip (#10 works perfectly). Place it in a large cup and fold over the sides. Pour in half of the mixture and twist the top. Start piping the batter into the circles. The best way to do it is hold just over the pan (not touching) and let the batter flow out naturally, until the circle is perfectly filled. Then quickly turn your wrist as you lift the tip to try and not leave a tail. Once the first pan is filled, hold the pan with both hands and tap hard on the counter 3 times. Turn the pan so your hands are on the opposite ends and tap again 3 times (helps get any air pockets out and flattens the cookies). Continue until both pans are filled and the rest of the batter is used up. Let them sit on the counter for at least 15 minutes, or until the tops are no longer wet when you touch them. (This could take a lot longer in a humid climate.)
Place the cookie sheets on the two bottom oven racks. You will have to experiment with the cooking times, but this is what worked for me. Set the timer for 2 minutes and when it rings, open the door for about 15 seconds, to let any humidity escape. Then set the timer for 6 minutes. Once the time is up, change the pans so that the top one is now on the bottom, as well as turn around so the back of the pan is now in the front. Bake for 7 more minutes. To test the doneness, carefully lift the cookie off the sheet. If it comes off the parchment easily, they are done. If the cookie separates in half, bake one more minute, and so on. Cool the macaroons completely before lifting them off the parchment paper. Once they are cool, start matching up the sizes and place both halves next to each other and then fill.
When all the macarons are filled, use a non-toxic paint brush to brush a thin layer of simple syrup (1 part water to 1 part sugar, dissolve on stovetop) to the entire top shell. Generously sprinkle the shell with granulated sugar, so that the entire shell is covered (use the paint brush and syrup to fix any bare spots). Using a kitchen torch, torch the tops until they are a deep caramel color and almost burnt.
***These macarons do not hold up well in the refrigerator once they are torched. If you need to store them, do so before you brûlée the tops and then torch them at the very last minute. They can be stored, in an airtight container, in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to a month. If frozen, leave out on the counter for at least 15 minutes, or until they are thawed, before opening container (so moisture can return after they thaw). Once they are thawed you can then cover in sugar and brûlée them.
Crème Brûlée Filling
2 vanilla beans
15 egg yolks, at room temperature
9 T. sugar
Pour the cream into a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pan, toss in the pod, and stir to mix. Bring just barely to a boil over low heat.
Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together just to blend. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk, continuously and energetically, until the mixture is very pale and hot to the touch. Remove the yolks form the heat. Gradually, but steadily, whisk the cream into the yolks, pod and all.
Put the bowl back over the hot water and let it sit there, with the heat turned off, whisking occasionally, from 5-10 minutes, until the cream thickens. Set the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and allow the mixture to cool, whisking now and then. When the custard is cool to the torch, retrieve and discard the vanilla bean and push the mixture through a strainer into a clean bowl. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (can be made a day ahead).