Sometimes, life gets you down. And when that happens, I say it’s time to make cupcakes. Crème brûlée cupcakes to be exact.
I filled fluffy vanilla cupcakes with a custard and added a swirl of vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream on top. At first, I tried to brûlée the tops, what a mess! Silly me wasn’t thinking that BUTTER could melt so quickly under a torch! So, instead I took a torch to some sugar that I thinly spread out onto some aluminum foil that was on top of a heat resistant cutting board, or as heat resistant as a cutting board can get I should say!
I can totally see these cupcakes being awesome without the addition of the Swiss meringue buttercream. I’m going to include the recipe for it anyway. I do think next time I would leave out the custard and make a double batch of pastry cream, and top the cupcakes with that instead. By topping the cupcakes with pastry cream, you’ve eliminated the frosting step (which is nice for some of us lazy bakers), but you should also be able to brûlée the tops after popping them in the fridge for a little bit.
Crème Brûlée Cupcakes
This recipe makes a little bit more than 24 cupcakes
Fluffy Vanilla Cupcakes
9.7 oz cake flour, sifted
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 fl. oz whole milk, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
1 whole egg, room temperature
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
10.5 oz sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
4 fl. oz whipping cream
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line your cupcake tin with liners, but these cupcakes really pulled from the sides of them for me. I’d recommend baking them that way, but than just chucking the wrappers in the garbage once your cupcakes are all done. Also, this recipe called for the cupcake tins to be baked on top of a baking sheet, too to avoid the bottoms browning.
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Whisk eggs, milk, and vanilla in a separate bowl and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar on medium speed until very pale and fluffy (about 5-7 minutes). Slightly lower the speed and slowly add your flour in three parts, alternating with your wet mixture. So that means, add some flour mixture, beat until incorporated, add some wet mixture, beat until incorporated. Repeat, but leave some of your flour mixture to add at the end after you’ve added your last bit of your wet mixture. Scrape and beat for 2 minutes.
In a separate chilled bowl, whip your heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the vanilla batter. Scoop your mixture into your cupcake tins, and bake for about 15 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out with little to no crumbs). Remove and let cool on racks.
Makes 4 cups
2 cups plus 2 tbs whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3.5 oz sugar
Place milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often, and then remove from heat for about 1 minute allowing the milk to cool slightly.
Whisk sugar and yolks in a heatproof bowl, until pale and incorporated. After throughly whisked, continue whisking and slowly pour some of the hot milk into the eggs to slowly temper. After about half of the mixture has been added, you can then begin whisking the hot milk and slowly add the eggs/milk mixture back into the saucepan. Cook, on medium, stirring constantly until the custard thickly coats the back of your spoon. This can take anywhere from 12 minutes to longer. Just have patience. Add a candy thermometer to your pan and bring the cream up to 175 degrees Fahrenheit, and stirring constantly let it stay at that temperature for 5 minutes. Do not let it exceed 180 degrees. You’re doing this to pasteurize the cream.
Remove from heat, strain, and set over an ice bath, stirring occasionally. Once cooled a bit, whisk in the vanilla extract, and when it’s completely cooled place some plastic wrap directly on top of the cream (make sure it’s touching the top so a skin doesn’t form) and place in the refrigerator until well chilled.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes about 5 cups
5 large egg whites (or 5 oz)
9 oz sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and softened
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
In a double boiler over simmering water, whisk the egg whites and sugar. Continue whisking constantly, but gently until the mixture reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whip in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, until thick, glossy, and cool. Switch to the paddle attachment and add butter in 1-2 chunks at a time on a low – medium speed until incorporated. Mix until silky and smooth. You may have a moment where it looks curdled, continue beating, it will get past that. If it doesn’t that means your mixture is a bit too warm. Pop it in the ‘fridge for 15 minutes and try to beat again. Add vanilla and salt. Beat until incorporated.
- Core the cooled cupcakes and fill them with the custard.
- Add a swirl of buttercream in a ring on top of the cupcake. I like to a leave a hole in the middle of the frosting so the custard can be seen.
- Garnish with some sugar shards.
A note on sugar shards: The recipe I would recommend can be found here. I would let the mixture sit on the stove until it got a bit darker. Than pour it as thinly as possible. After, the sugar has set, you can hit it with a torch a little bit to give it a more of a burnt look. As I said earlier, I took the lazy way out! I thinly spread some sugar on top of some aluminum foil. I then used my torch on very low heat to burn the sugar a bit. The torch cannot be on too high of a setting, because your sugar can and WILL set fire, and what’s the point of baking if you’re just going to burn the kitchen down ammiright?! I’m not going to lie, at some point I turned the torch off and hit it with a barbecue lighter.. underneath it! It might have looked like I was partaking in some heavy drug use to anyone that could have seen me, but I have to say I am quite pleased with how they came out. Let it set for a few minutes, and once it’s no longer warm you can begin to peel some of the aluminum foil away from the bottom. I think the bigger sugar shards look nicer on these cupcakes.