I’ve had this cupcake idea on the brain for years. Seriously. I mean it was possibly one of my first blog ideas when I started. I always knew it was something I wanted to try- but for the life of me I couldn’t conceive how to make it happen. Crême Bruleé has always been one of my favorite desserts, and it just seemed time for its creamy vanilla filling and crunchy burnt sugar topping to make it’s way into a cupcake.
But inspiration never struck… so to the back burner the idea went. That is until a decent amount of delicious vanilla bean pastry cream was leftover from my recent macaron project, and I needed to figure out a way to use it.
I knew that pastry cream wouldn’t be exactly the same texture as the custard from my favorite French dessert, but it was worth a try right? I needed something that was sturdy enough to be filling and “frosting” on a cupcake, and my silky pastry cream seemed like just the thing.
Well I have to admit I couldn’t be more pleased with how these turned out! The fluffy vanilla cake is the perfect base for the filling, and when I took my first bite and tapped the bruleéd top and watched it break, I knew I made something special.
Now you do need a kitchen torch for these, no broiler alternative unfortunately- but I really think it’s worth it. They are pretty cheap, small and I use mine all the time! What else can I brulée!?
PS- I had the most wonderful, educational experience at the King Arthur Flour Blog & Bake these last few days. I plan on sharing everything with you very soon!
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plus 2 T buttermilk
- 1 pint whole milk (2 cups)
- 6 T cornstarch
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 oz butter
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (or a whole pod)
- pinch of salt
- *sugar for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with liners; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated; scrape down sides of bowl, and beat in vanilla.
- Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with flour, mixing until just combined after each addition. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl- making sure there are no streaks of flour.
- Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes- then take cupcakes out of the pan and cool the rest of the way on a wire rack.
- In a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in ¼ cup of the milk and set aside.
- Combine the rest of the milk with sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- Whisk eggs into the milk/cornstarch mixture until smooth.
- Temper the eggs by pouring 1/3 of the boiling milk into the egg mixture in a steady stream with one hand, while gently stirring with the other hand. When mixed together add the milk/eggs back to the saucepan with the rest of the milk.
- Boil for one minute stirring constantly until mixture is thick, bubbly, and able to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in butter and vanilla.
- Transfer to a cold container, press some plastic wrap directly on the cream and chill completely before using in the cupcakes.
- Use a paring knife to make a cone shaped hole in the center of each cupcake. Use a spoon or piping bag to fill and frost each cupcake with pastry cream.
- Cupcakes can be chilled at this stage until right before serving, when ready- sprinkle the sugar generously over every inch of the pastry cream (more sugar than you think is needed to create that crispy layer.), use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar until golden brown and melted.
- Serve immediately.
Cupcake Recipe slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Pastry Cream Recipe adapted from Cook'n with Class (My Paris cooking school.)
(The pastry cream can be made in advance and refrigerated up until you're ready to use it. If it seems stiff- loosen it by either running it through a food processor or using an immersion blender. (what I did.) It will be smooth and silky within seconds!)