Thursday, April 21, 2011

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

Article first published as Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes on Blogcritics.

Cupcakes are still quite the trend, aren't they? Well, I don't think this trend is ending anytime soon... especially when the sky's the limit for cupcake flavors! Take for instance Boston Cream Pie. It's not exactly a pie but rather a cake. When it comes to cupcakes, pretty much any cake can be adapted in cupcake form. These Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes are a delicious example. Tender cake filled with sweet pastry cream is crowned with a rich chocolate ganache. What's not to love?

I'm not going to lie, these are time consuming to make, but they are definitely worth the effort! The recipe will open your eyes up to some different techniques so you'll definitely learn something and eat your cake too. For one, most cakes start out by creaming butter and sugar together, followed by adding the liquid ingredients and then the dry ingredients. When making these cupcakes, the reverse is done. Flour, baking powder, salt and sugar are combined first and butter is slowly introduced to create coarse crumbs. To pull the batter together, eggs, milk and vanilla join in. As a result of this reverse-creaming method, you'll have a tender crumb cake that can hold it's own up to the creamy pastry cream.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
recipe from Cook's Illustrated

Pastry Cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
pinch of table salt
4 teaspoons conrnstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold & cut into 2 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons table salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened but slightly cool, cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs
3/4 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze:
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the pastry cream:

Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the cornstarch and whisk the mixture is pale yellow and thick.

When the cream reaches a full simmer, slowly whisk it into the yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thick and glossy. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Transfer the pastry cream to a small bowl and refrigerate, with plastic wrap pressed flush against its surface, until cold and set, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

For the cupcakes:

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin pan with paper baking cups and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar on low speed. Add the butter, 1 piece at a time, and combine until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the eggs, 1 at time, and mix until fully combined. Add the milk and vanilla, increase the speed to medium, and mix until the batter is light, fluffy and free of lumps.

Fill the lined muffin cups three-quarters full, being careful not to overfill. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean, about 18 to 20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the glaze:
Cook the cream, corn syrup, chocolate, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Set aside and allow to thicken for 30 minutes.

To assemble:
Insert a small knife at a 45 degree angle about 1/8 inch from the edge of each cupcake and cut all the way around, remove a cone of cake. Cut away all but the top 1/4 inch of the cone; leaving only a small disk of cake which will be used to top the cupcake.

Fill each cupcake with 2 tablespoons of pastry cream and top with the disk of cake.

Carefully top each filled cupcake with a 1-2 tablespoons of the chocolate glaze. Refrigerate until just set, about 10 minutes.