Boston Cream Cupcakes

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There’s just something so nostalgic and comforting about a Boston cream pie. It always reminds me of family gatherings growing up in Massachusetts – that luscious vanilla cake filled with velvety pastry cream and topped with a rich chocolate glaze. My mom made the best Boston cream pie from scratch every year for my dad’s birthday. The whole house would be filled with the most incredible aroma as she carefully tended to the pastry cream on the stovetop.

As a kid, I would impatiently hover around the kitchen, trying to sneak a fingerful of that dreamy custard whenever I could. Mom would shoo me away, telling me I had to wait until after dinner for a slice of the real deal. And it was always worth the wait – that first bite of tender cake giving way to the cool, silky cream and fudgy chocolate topping was absolute heaven.

These days, I satisfy my Boston cream cravings by making the iconic dessert into cupcake form. Portable, poppable, and perfectly portioned, Boston cream cupcakes let you enjoy all the luscious layers in delightful, handheld fashion. They make a wonderful treat for parties, bake sales, or just a cozy night in with loved ones.

What Makes These Boston Cream Cupcakes So Delicious?

  • Soft, moist vanilla cupcakes made from scratch
  • Real pastry cream (not pudding!) filling with a velvety smooth texture
  • Easy chocolate ganache frosting that sets up beautifully glossy
  • Make-ahead and storage tips so you can enjoy them at their best

While a bit more involved than some cupcake recipes, I promise these Boston cream cupcakes are worth the effort. Biting through that luscious cream filling and fudgy topping is such an iconic, nostalgic experience. Let’s get baking!

FAQs

Can I use pudding instead of pastry cream? You can, but I really recommend taking the time to make the real deal pastry cream (creme patissiere). It has such a luscious, velvety texture that instant pudding can’t compare to.

Do I have to use corn syrup in the ganache? No, the corn syrup is optional. It just helps give the ganache a beautiful glossy sheen. Leave it out if you prefer.

Can these cupcakes be frozen? I don’t recommend freezing them, as the pastry cream can break down and become grainy when frozen and thawed. They keep nicely refrigerated for up to 5 days though.

How do I get the cupcake cavities so neat? Use a small paring knife to carefully cut out a cone shape from the top of each cupcake about 1-inch deep. Remove this plug, then slice off the pointy bottom so you have a flat “lid” to replace on top of the filling.

Boston Cream Cupcakes

Tender vanilla cupcakes filled with luscious pastry cream and topped with rich chocolate ganache.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Cooling: 3 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 24 Cupcakes

Ingredients

Pastry Cream Filling:

Cupcake Batter:

Chocolate Ganache Topping:

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup optional
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

Make the Pastry Cream:

  • In a saucepan, whisk together the milk, cream, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, and the salt. Heat over medium, stirring frequently, until steaming and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar until smooth. Whisk in the cornstarch until no lumps remain.
  • Gradually whisk 1/3 of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper it. Then whisk the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture.
  • Return saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened to a pudding-like consistency, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Strain the pastry cream through a mesh sieve into a bowl. Whisk in the vanilla and butter until fully incorporated.
  • Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours.

Make the Cupcakes:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-count muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, until fully incorporated.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  • Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the butter mixture in three additions, mixing just until combined after each.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
  • Allow cupcakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Ganache Topping:

  • Place the chocolate chips, heavy cream and corn syrup (if using) in a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring well between each, until melted and smooth.
  • Sift in the confectioners’ sugar and whisk until fully incorporated.
  • Let ganache sit for 10-15 minutes to thicken slightly before using.

Assemble the Cupcakes:

  • Once cupcakes are completely cooled, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped cavity out of the center of each, going about 3/4 of the way down but not cutting through the bottom. Remove the cone portion.
  • Transfer the chilled pastry cream to a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe the pastry cream into each cavity, filling it to the top.
  • Replace the cone portion back on top of the filling.
  • Spoon or drizzle the slightly thickened ganache over the tops of the filled cupcakes.
  • Refrigerate cupcakes until ready to serve. Boston cream cupcakes are best consumed within 4-5 days.

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