Serves 12


Pastry Cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ⅔ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • ⅛ tsp. fine sea salt
  • ½ vanilla bean, halved lengthwise and seeds scraped, or 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Cupcakes and Topping
  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. fine sea salt
  • ⅔ cup whole milk
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 10 Tbsp. (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened, plus more for greasing
  • ¾ cup plus 6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 egg white


Active time: 50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes

To make pastry cream: In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine cream, milk, 6 Tbsp. sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds and pod, and bring to a simmer, stirring. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks and remaining sugar. Whisk cornstarch into egg mixture until fluffy. Slowly pour about ½ cup of cream mixture into egg mixture, whisking. Reduce heat to medium-low, then slowly add egg mixture to cream mixture. Cook, whisking, until thickened, then boil for 30 seconds. Using a spatula, push custard through a strainer into a bowl, then whisk in butter. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against surface to prevent skin from forming. Chill for 2 hours.

To make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°. Butter 12 (4-ounce) ramekins (or a 12-cup cupcake pan with paper liners) and place on a baking sheet. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, mix milk and vanilla. In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and ¾ cup sugar on medium-high until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, add eggs one at a time, and beat until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add half of flour mixture, then milk mixture, then remaining flour mixture, beating until blended. Add about ¼ cup batter to each ramekin. Bake until tops are dry, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool.

To assemble cupcakes: Using a small knife, cut a 1" circle in each cupcake. Fill each with 2 tsp. pastry cream. Using a spatula, spread 1 tsp. pastry cream over top of each. Sprinkle each with 1½ tsp. sugar. Using a brûlée torch, melt sugar until caramelized, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve.

From The Sprinkles Baking Book (Grand Central Life & Style) by Candace Nelson.


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