Just like the famous dessert these are named for, Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes are comprised of yellow cake, pastry cream filling and dark chocolate glaze.
There are a few theories about how Boston cream pies got their name. It is known that the Parker House Hotel in Boston was serving them as early as 1856. Also during that time, homemakers usually had pie tins around, but not necessarily cake tins, so they might have first been baked in pie tins yielding a pie-like shape. The Boston Cream Pie is also the State Dessert of Massachusetts as of 1996 – beating out Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies!
Adapted from A Baker’s Field Guide to Cupcakes by Dédé Wilson (Harvard Common Press).
Image: Dédé Wilson
- Place milk in a medium-sized, non-reactive pot. Split vanilla bean down center and scrape all of the tiny seeds from the inside of the bean into the milk (a teaspoon or butter knife is great for this). Add the vanilla bean to the milk as well. Bring to a boil over medium heat; remove from heat, but keep warm. Let bean steep for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks and sugar until creamy. Whisk in salt and flour until smooth.
- Remove the vanilla bean from the milk. Reheat milk until it just comes to a simmer. Pour about ¼ of the warm milk over the egg yolk mixture, whisking gently. Add remaining milk and whisk to combine. Immediately pour mixture back into the pot and cook over a low-medium heat. Whisk continuously until thickened, about 8 minutes, but do not let it boil. The pastry should be thick enough to mound when dropped from a spoon.
- Allow pastry cream to cool; stir frequently to release heat. When almost at room temperature, scrape into airtight container and refrigerate at least 4 hours or until thoroughly chilled. Pastry cream may be made up to 3 days ahead.
- Bake Yellow Cupcakes according to directions. Cool. Place pastry cream in pastry bag fitted with tip. Insert tip right down in the center of each cupcake. Squeeze to fill with pastry cream. As soon as the top of the cupcake begins to expand and crack, ease up on pressure – the cupcake has taken on as much filling as it can. (You are aiming for about 1 tablespoon filling per cupcake.) If any pastry cream is oozing out of the top, simply wipe away before glazing.
- Have Ganache in a fluid state but not hot and too runny. It should flow. Use a small offset spatula or a teaspoon to apply about 1 tablespoon of ganache to the top of each cupcake; cover the top smoothly with ganache. Cupcakes are now ready to serve. Cupcakes may be baked two days ahead; glazed cupcakes are best served the same day. Store in airtight container.