Oh, these macarons. These are definitely a must add to your baking list. They're the best of two amazing French desserts - macarons and crème brûlée. My crème brûlée macarons are filled with rich and silky vanilla bean pastry cream and custardy German buttercream sandwiched inside crisp and chewy vanilla bean macaron shells. Then they're topped with sugar and torched until crispy and caramelized. Seriously, these are so, so good.
What makes these macarons taste like crème brûlée?
Créme brûlée is a creamy baked custard topped with sugar and brûléed, or torched until caramelized. This creates a crispy caramel top to the silky custard. For this recipe, both the pastry cream filling and German buttercream take place of the baked custard, and the tops of the macarons are also brûléed.
What is German buttercream?
German buttercream is a custard based buttercream made with pastry cream, butter, a little bit of confectioner's sugar and flavoring. Prepared pastry cream is added to whipped butter to create a rich and silky buttercream that's not too sweet, with a texture that is similar to a meringue style buttercream. I love this buttercream for these macarons but it also makes a fantastic cake filling.
What is pastry cream?
Pastry creme, or crème pâtissière, is similar to custard, but is typically thicker, like a pudding. Egg yolks, sugar, salt, cornstarch, and milk are cooked until thickened. Butter and vanilla bean paste are added and then set aside to cool to room temperature. One batch of the pastry cream will be used for both the macaron center filling and also the German buttercream. Too warm and the pastry cream will be runny, ooze out the centers and melt the butter for the buttercream. Too cold and the German buttercream will split when the pastry cream is added.
How to make crème brûlée macarons
Make the pastry cream first as it will need to have time to cool. Before you begin making the macarons, prepare the ingredients. Leave the egg whites out to sit at room temperature in the bowl of a stand mixer for 30 minutes. Place the granulated sugar, salt and cream of tartar in a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. Sift and discard any large pieces.
In a separate bowl, sift together the almond flour, and confectioner’s sugar. Discard the large pieces.
Beat with the whisk attachment until the eggs are foamy, then whisk in the sugar/salt/cream of tartar. Whip until stiff peaks form. This means that the egg whites will stick straight up when you pull the whisk out of the whites. They will be thick and glossy.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold in the almond flour mixture. The egg whites will deflate a bit and that is ok. The batter is ready when it “ribbons”, which means it falls off the batter in a stream. You should be able to make a “8” with the batter falling off the spatula. This means the batter is ready. You’re looking for about 55-75 folds. Check for the ribboning after every 15-20 seconds. You don’t want to over mix.
Firmly tap the pans 2-3 times on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Let the macs sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes to set. They’re ready to baked when the tops are slightly tacky and you can touch them without batter sticking to your fingers. Sitting out helps to create the macaron feet so that the macarons bake upwards and don’t spread outwards.
Bake for 20 minutes. The macs will be set, risen and have little ruffly feet around the bottom. Let the macs dry before removing them from the parchment. Fully baked, they will be easy to remove from the parchment.
While the macaron shells cool, make the buttercream. Beat the softened butter until thick, pale and fluffy on high speed for about 5 minutes. Beat in the confectioner's sugar. Add the pastry cream a tablespoon at a time. After the pastry cream has been added, beat for 2-3 minutes until smooth and fluffy.
Pipe a ring of buttercream around the outside of half the baked and cooled mac shells. Spoon ½ teaspoon of pastry cream into the center. Place a shell on top of the filling, pushing down gently to push the filling to the edges.
If you make these crème brûlée macarons, let me know! Drop a comment or tag me on Instagram. I love seeing your bakes and creations.
For more French inspired recipes, check out these posts:
Crème Brûlée Macarons
Vanilla Bean Macaron Shells
- 90 grams large egg whites, about 3 egg whites
- 60 grams superfine, caster or granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 150 grams confectioner's sugar
- 120 grams finely ground almond flour
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- ⅔ cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ⅓ cup confectioner's sugar
- pinch of fine sea salt
- ½ of the prepared pastry cream
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the milk, salt and sugar and bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the cornstarch until thickened, for about a minute.
- When the milk mixture is simmering, remove the saucepan from the heat. Carefully and slowly, whisk the milk into the egg mixture.
- Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat, whisking continuously until the pastry cream thickens and slow bubbles pop on the surface.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl to remove any curdled bits, and to smooth out the cream.
- Whisk in the butter and vanilla bean paste.
- Cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap so that a skin doesn't form. Allow the pastry cream to cool to room temperature.
- Place the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in medium size bowl, sift together the superfine sugar, cream of tartar and salt. Discard any large pieces of sugar left. Set bowl aside.
- In a separate large bowl, sift together the confectioner's sugar and almond flour. Discard any large pieces of almond remaining. Set the bowl aside.
- Line half baking sheets with parchment paper. Place templates under the parchment, if using.
- Beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy, about 8 minutes.
- Beat in the granulated sugar, cream of tartar and salt mixture.
- Whip the egg white mixture until stiff peaks form. The meringue will stand up straight when the whisk is removed. The egg white mixture will be thick and glossy.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and folding in the almond flour mixture. The egg whites will deflate a bit and that is ok. The batter is ready when it "ribbons", which means it falls off the batter in a stream. You should be able to make a "8" with the batter falling off the spatula. This means the batter is ready. You're looking for about 50-75 folds. Check for the ribboning after every 15-20 seconds.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a round tip (Wilton 1A or 2A) and pipe 1 ½" rounds on the parchment paper.
- Firmly tap the pans on the counter 2-3 times to remove air bubbles. Let the macarons sit until just slightly tacky, but no batter comes off on your fingers, about 30-60 minutes.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven to 300F. Bake the macarons for 20 minutes. Cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and confectioner's sugar on high for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
- Decrease the speed to medium-low and beat in half of the prepared and cooled pastry cream, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Increase the speed to medium high and beat for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
- Spoon the German buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip( I used a Wilton 2A).
- Flip half of the macaron shells over, flat side up. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the perimeter of flipped shells.
- Spoon ½ teaspoon of pastry cream into the center of the buttercream ring.
- Place the remaining macaron shells on top of the cookies with filling and squeeze gently, until the filling just reaches the edges.
- Brush the tops of the macarons with very little water. You just need a tiny bit to get the sugar to stick.
- Chill the macarons for 2-3 hours to firm up the buttercream before torching the tops.
- Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of sugar on top of the macarons.
- Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar on top.