Saturday, February 28, 2009

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

This post is a few days over due, and sadly, all the evidence of the project has been consumed. But it was great while it lasted.

The idea for these cupcakes was inspired/completely ripped-off of the genius that is Michelle Yu. Knowing that our mutual friend, Barbara, had an insatiable love for the once "Mile High Boston Cream Pie" from Marie Calendars, Michelle made Barbara Boston Cream Cupcakes for her birthday last year, and they were amazing. I'm not positive what her recipe consisted of (whether she used cake box or homemade and whether she filled them with custard or pudding), but I opted to make my own rendition of them using the from-scratch method. I poked around for some recipes online and pieced together the things I liked about a few of them. The end result was a sturdy yellow cake filled with a creamy vanilla custard and topped with a thin, semi-sweet, chocolate ganache. A winning combo, but with room for improvement.

So I don't have much experience with Boston Cream Pies, so I don't actually know what to expect. Maybe that makes me a well-qualified creator of the confection, because my standards are not based on comparisson, but rather compelled by a general expectation for all the flavors and textures to work well together and simply taste good. I did a little research about the original concept, and apparently it is supposed to be a sponge cake, which is not what I used. Maybe that would make the cake a little more delicate, which might better compliment the creaminess of the custard that goes inside it, unlike the denser yellow cake that I used in my recipe where the custard was sort of lost in the texture of the cake. I also think there could have been a stronger presense of the chocolate (but really, when is that not true?), so would opt to make a thicker ganache next time.

But the real fun part was figuring how we'd get the custard inside the cupcake. Method #1, in retrospect, was a crude attempt to beat the laws of physics dealing with volume and mass displacement. Apparently forcing the custard into the bowels of the cupcake by way of injection results in a minimal custard to cake ratio, as well as a gradual un-jection of custard as the so called pressure of the cake form slowly returns back to its unbloated shape and rejects it's forced filling.

So the best method I came up with was actually taking this fancy little apple-corer contraption I had and drilling a 3/4" diameter hole into the top of the still warm cupcake. For some miracle of science, this process actually worked, and worked very well. I would dig down a little over an inch and the perfect cylinder of cupcake would neatly be extracted. After filling the hole in with custard, I then covered up the operation by putting the tip top of the cake cylinder back on the custard-filled hole in order to "protect" the custard filling and give it a barrier from the ganache I was about to dip it in. The only side effect that came about from that process was the evidence of a little, what Barbara referred to as, belly button. Once the cupcake was dipped and the ganache had settled, there was a distinct trace of where the hole had been cut, and a slight elevation of the cylinder top through the ganache. What does this mean? Well. I guess more experiments will just have to be made to perfect a more seamless method.


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