The trials and tribulations of a scatter-brained kitchen junkie.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Week 4 (Baking) - Boston Cream Cupcakes

This week's theme was frosting/filling, but of course I couldn't pick just one.

If it's said that I have a weakness in the face of sweet treats, that doubles in the face of doughnuts. My favorite by far being Boston creams. However, my love affair with sweets has a counter balance called I-don't-want-to-weigh-500 lbs so I try to find healthy(ish) versions of things whenever possible. Doughnuts, in all their delicious glory, are traditionally fried, and fried means fat, so I thought perhaps I'd try out this delicious baked doughnut recipe I'd been holding on to.

This was not a good idea.

The doughnuts, were more like doughrocks. Though still interestingly tasty, they were nothing like the light fluffy yeast glory that I needed to provide a shell of perfection for my creamy custard.

These are unbaked doughrocks. I forgot to photograph the end results.
You're not missing much.

So, um, doughrocks, that's not food. To the birds they go!

I had already made my tasty - and somewhat low(ish) calorie - custard so I had to devise a new plan. Hrmm, I had heard of Boston Cream Pies/Cakes so I thought I'd give that a whirl; except in cupcake form so that I could still maintain some semblance of the hand-held treat I was hoping for. I grabbed a recipe from allrecipes and worked it into the delights below.

The original cake recipe only yielded 12 cupcakes. 12 average size, not even remotely overfilled, cupcakes. I can't imagine stretching this recipe across two 9in rounds as the original instructions suggested. Those would be very small flat cakes, in my opinion. So now I have a bunch of custard leftover; I see a round two of these on my horizon. There would have been a small amount of ganache leftover as well, but I double - or maybe triple - dipped my cupcake as I was eating it in the kitchen so I cleaned that up nicely.

So, since the original recipe was all out of sorts. I've adjusted the instructions below to yield approximately the right amount of cake/custard/ganache to make 24 cupcakes. Because seriously, who makes only 12 cupcakes?

  • 3/4 c butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 c all purpose flour
  • 3 c cake flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1c milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°
  2. Spray the cups of 2 muffins pans - 24 holes total - evenly with cooking spray, set aside 
  3. Cream the butter & sugar until fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing fully after each addition.
  5. Add the vanilla and mix again.
  6. Combine the flours, baking powder & salt.
  7. Alternate adding the milk and the flour mixture in the separate turns (milk then flour, milk then flour, milk then flour), mixing completely after each addition.

  8. Batter should be very smooth and creamy.
  9. Divide batter evenly into the 24 cupcake slots (I never know what the heck to call these)

  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Cupcakes will have large crowns and appear very light at the tops of the crowns.
    The tops do not seem to brown at all, so watch these closely.
    A toothpick when inserted into the center of a cupcake should come out clean.

  11. Remove from cupcake slots and cool on a wire rack until room temperature.

  • 1/2 c (skim) milk - divided
  • 1/2 c half & half (coffee cream)
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • Pinch Salt
  • 4 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Custard is best prepped in advance. I made mine a full two days prior; it was only supposed to be one day early, but since my doughnuts didn't turn out I didn't have time to come back to this until the following day. The custard set up a lot so it was very very thick. My best guess is that this would be ideally prepped a few hours in advance to give it time to cool down, but not so much time as it becomes a thick gloopy mess. My, doesn't that sound appealing?

The custard was actually delicious but my mother, one of my many test subjects, suggested that it would be better thinner. Another alternate route being to just add less cornstarch, but I haven't experimented with that one yet. An final option would be to completely ignore anyone who tells you that your custard is too thick. I haven't ruled that option out yet. ;)
  1. Combine 1/4 c milk and the 1/2 c half & half and cook in a sauce pan over medium heat until it begins to bubble around the outer edges.
  2. Immediately add the 1/4 c sugar and pinch of salt, stir to combine.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. In a separate bowl combine the cornstarch & 1/4c milk, whisk until there are no lumps from the cornstarch.
  5. Whisk in the two eggs.

  6. Add the hot mixture into the milk/cream, pouring in a quick, steady stream.

  7. Whisk until fully incorporated.
  8. Transfer back to the sauce pan and bring to a boil over low-medium heat whisking constantly until custard begins to thicken, 3-5 minutes.

  9. Remove from heat.
  10. Add the tsp of vanilla, and stir until fully incorporated.
  11. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until ready to use.


  • 7 oz semi-sweet chocolate - chopped if using large bars of chocolate
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1/2 c half & half (coffee cream)
  • 1 c confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

You'll want to wait to make the ganache until you are completely done with everything else. The ganache starts to set up pretty quickly, so if it's made too far in advance it begins to form a crust and makes dipping difficult.

  • Combine the chocolate & butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Stir constantly until melted.
  • Remove from heat and add the half & half, stir in completely.
  • When mixture is smooth and the confectioners' sugar, stir until smooth.
  • Add the vanilla extract and stir until completely incorporated.

Putting it all together

  1. Prepare a decorating bag fitted with a bismarck tip, (# 230 from Wilton.)
  2. Squeeze the bag until a small amount of custard comes out, and assure that there are no air bubbles in the bag.
  3. Be certain the cupcakes are cooled, and are sitting on a solid flat surface.
  4. Insert the tip roughly 2/3s of the way into the cupcake. 
  5. Squeeze with a steady firm pressure, slowly pulling out of the cake as you squeeze.

    If cupcake tops begin to split you're using a bit too much custard; ease off the pressure for the next one.
    If a small amount of custard works its way up and out of the cupcake, which is highly likely, just remove using the back of a spatula.
    Repeat for the next 23 cupcakes.
  6. Once the cupcakes are all filled, be sure there isn't any excess custard or loose crumbs on the tops of the cupcakes.
  7. Dip the crown of each cupcake into the ganache and swirl to assure coverage across the entire crown.
  8. Pull out of the ganache slowly, allowing most of the excess to drip off. 
  9. Set on a cooling grid placed over wax paper to dry.

    Repeat for the other 23 cupcakes.
  10. Allow to set until ganache is no longer dripping and shiny.
  11. Either eat now, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Sadly, I over-baked the cupcakes a wee bit, so the edges were a tad hard. Still tasty, but they definitely could have done with a little less time in the oven. I thought I was pulling them out prematurely because the crowns were still white, but once I popped the cakes from their individual homes, I discovered that the sides were golden brown. Extra golden brown. And a little crispy.
Still tasty though, I'm counting this one as a success.


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