Super moist yellow cupcakes filled with a simple and smooth vanilla pastry cream and topped with a glossy chocolate ganache, these Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes are a classic combination in miniature form. Not to mention a hard-to-resist treat! These fun cupcakes are perfect for any occasion.
We love cupcakes! Don’t miss our Lemon Cupcakes, Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes, and Root Beer Float Cupcakes.
The Best Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
Raise your hand if you love Boston cream pie! If you do, I promise you are going to LOVE these Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes. What isn’t to love about moist cupcakes filled with pastry cream and topped with ganache? Yum!
These cupcakes feature the best elements of traditional Boston Cream Pie, but instead of doing everything completely from scratch, this recipe begins with a box cake mix. Of course, we doctor up the cake mix a bit, but it still saves a little time. And while the pastry cream can take a bit of finesse, I’ve included all of my best tips (and a hack if you really don’t want to use it) below.
What is Boston Cream Pie?
Boston Cream Pie (or Boston Creme Pie) is a bit misnamed as it’s not actually a pie at all. The traditional recipe calls for two yellow cakes layered with pastry cream in the center and chocolate ganache poured over the top. These Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes feature all of the original flavors, just in a condensed miniature version.
What’s the Best Chocolate for Ganache?
Ganache should be made with good quality chocolate bars, such as Ghirardelli, and it is better to use semi-sweet chocolate as opposed to milk chocolate. Chips could be used in a pinch, but may not have the same smooth and shiny finish, as chips contain conditioners and additives that make the chocolate harder to melt smoothly.
Tips for Working with Pastry Cream
The pastry cream filling is a key part of these Boston creme pie cupcakes but it can be a bit tricky to work with. Here are a few tips.
- Be sure to bring the mixture to a boil. This recipe for pastry cream uses cornstarch to help stabilize the cream mixture. The yolks contain an enzyme called amylase, which over time, can break down the starch molecules and transform a thick pastry cream into a runny mess. It is important to bring this mixture up to a boil (while whisking continuously) in order to kill off this enzyme and keep your pastry cream together.
- Whisk constantly. Homemade pastry cream can be daunting for those new to baking. Just remember to keep the heat low, temper the egg mixture and whisk, whisk, whisk.
- What’s the best milk to use? Pastry cream is best made with whole milk, but half-and-half or 2% will also work. Stay away from skim/nonfat milk as they won’t have the needed fat content.
- Use pudding mix in a pinch. This process could be cheated by using vanilla instant pudding, but in order to get the mix stiff enough, only use half of the liquid called for on the box.
Decorating the Cupcakes
Boston creme pie traditionally has ganache drizzled on top, but you can make them look like frosted cupcakes if you’d like to. Just wait for the ganache to cool completely so it’s scoopable, mix it briefly with a fork or whisk, then place in a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe onto the top of the cupcakes.
Using Extra Ganache & Pastry Cream
This recipe makes enough pastry cream and ganache for a double batch of cupcakes.
- Use up the extra pastry cream by serving small amounts with berries in a small glass or bowl, or top sugar cookies with a spoonful and top with sliced fresh fruit for a quick fruit tart, or just eat by the spoonful!
- Extra ganache can easily be made into truffles by rolling the refrigerated ganache into small balls and rolling them in cocoa powder, chopped nuts, or shredded coconut. Store them in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.
Make Ahead & Storage
- Make ahead. The pastry cream and cupcakes can be made a day ahead. Store pastry cream in the fridge with a piece of plastic sitting directly on top of the cream to prevent any skin from forming. The cupcakes can be stored, covered, at room temperature.
- Storing leftover assembled cupcakes. After they are assembled, cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge until half an hour before being served. These are best served when brought back up to room temperature. They will keep for up to 3 days. These are not freezer-friendly.
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Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes
For the Pastry Cream
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 + 1/3 cup granulated sugar , divided
- 5 egg yolks (save the whites for the cake mix)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons butter , cut into small cubes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Cupcake
- 15.25 ounce box of yellow cake mix (we use Betty Crocker super moist)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 5 egg whites
For the Ganache
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 1 cup heavy cream
For the Pastry Cream
- In a medium saucepan, heat milk and 1/4 cup sugar to scalding, just below a simmer. Do not boil.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk 1/3 cup sugar, egg yolks, salt and cornstarch vigorously until egg mixture becomes light yellow and starts to form ribbons, about 1-2 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in 1/2 of hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Return mixture back into the saucepan and return to medium low heat. Whisking constantly, cook mixture until it thickens and starts to “burp” bubbles. Cook, while continuing to whisk for 1 minute more.
- Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla and butter cubes. Run custard through a fine mesh strainer to ensure a smooth custard. Place in a shallow dish (a 9×9 glass pan works well for this), place plastic wrap so that it is in direct contact with the top of the custard (this will prevent skin from forming on the top.) Transfer to the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours to cool and set.
For the Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin tin with 18 baking cup liners.
- In a medium bowl beat together the cake mix, milk, water, vegetable oil, egg yolks and vanilla, until combined.
- In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks have formed, around 3-5 minutes. Carefully fold in the egg whites into the cake mixture. (It is ok to have some ribbons and small lumps of egg white, you do not want to over mix the batter.)
- Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full of batter and bake for 12-18 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
For the ganache
- Chop chocolate into fine pieces and place in a medium bowl.
- Heat milk in a saucepan to scalding, or just under a simmer and pour over chocolate. Stir chocolate until completely melted and smooth. Cool for 10-20 minutes. (Don’t make the ganache until cupcakes and pastry cream are ready to be used.)
- Using the wide side of a pastry decorating tip or an apple corer, make a hole in the center of the cupcake about 3/4-inch down, and remove this plug of cake. Fill the hole with pastry cream using a pastry bag.Dip cupcakes in slightly cooled ganache or top with ganache using a spoon or piping bag. Let set and enjoy!