What could be better than a towering slice of Boston Cream Pie? Mini Boston cream pies! Smaller than a cupcake but just as much of a delight to eat. These little head turners are a super cute way to serve dessert at any gathering, whether formal or informal, as a sweet treat after cocktails, or at the end of one of our wine evenings. I just love making mini versions of food for get-togethers. They just scream “party!” and by making them small you can serve them with cocktail napkins, making clean up a breeze!
I used a few shortcuts for this recipe. If you can find a really good boxed cake mix, then, by all means, use it. If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s near you, their Vanilla Cake & Baking Mix is fantastic. Rich in flavor, moist and dotted with vanilla seeds, it’s actually my go-to for vanilla cake nowadays. Especially after noticing at birthday parties, that the kids only ever eat the frosting…so why spend a half hour creaming butter and all that jazz?
A homemade cream is THE way forward, it’s easier than it sounds and much better than the powdered variety. The ganache is a cinch to throw together and you’ll probably end up with some leftover, which is always a win. So yes, these little pies will take a little more time than making one large Boston Cream Pie, but who can resist a bite-sized dessert? xoxo Kirsty
These instructions are for about 24 mini pies, but you can use the same ingredients and create one large one if you prefer. It will be just as delicious!
Whether you’re making the large or small version, this pie does take some planning ahead. I would recommend to start with the cream, as it needs to chill for a few hours. This can be done up to a day ahead. Then bake the cake, allowing it to cool before topping, and finally the ganache which can be made when you’ve cut out the mini-pies. Although this sounds like a lot of time, it can be done in stages which makes it much less of an undertaking than it sounds.
Ingredients for the cream (we used a classic Crème Patissière recipe):
2 cups (475ml) whole milk
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or extract
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, softened
Ingredients for the cake:
1 box of vanilla cake mix or make your own - here’s one of our favorite vanilla cake recipes
Ingredients for the ganache:
We’ve turned to @sallysbakingaddiction for her foolproof recipe.
8 oz. (225g) good quality semi-sweet chocolate bars, finely chopped
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
First make the cream:
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat and bring it to a simmer, almost to a boil.
Whilst the milk is being heated, place the sugar, egg and yolks, cornstarch, vanilla and salt in a bowl. Whisk until you have a thick, smooth mix. Set aside the bowl with the egg until the milk comes to a boil.
As soon as the milk starts to bubble, remove it from the heat. SLOWLY pour about a half of the hot milk in a thin stream, into the egg mix, whisking constantly, to temper the egg mix. (The eggs would cook if you added the hot milk quickly, leaving you with scrambled custard!) When the eggs have been tempered, add the egg mix back to the hot milk in the saucepan.
Now you have the start of a custard base. Continue to heat over medium heat, whisking vigorously until it starts to thicken – this should take about 1-2 minutes.
Whilst whisking, let the custard come to a boil (the custard will slowly bubble). Lower the heat and cook for a further 1-2 minutes after you see the first bubbles break the surface. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Whisk in the butter, until it’s completely incorporated.
Pour the custard into a bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap is touching the whole surface. This will prevent a skin from forming on top.
Let the custard cool to room temperature and then let it chill in the fridge for a few hours.
Then make the cake:
Mix the cake according to package instructions and bake on two lined baking trays, so you end up with two (roughly) inch-thick (2.5cm) cakes. You will need to reduce the baking time to 15-20 minutes for this, just keep checking. When the cake springs back to the touch, it’s ready. Allow to cool before cutting out the shapes. If you don’t have a small circular cutter, you can also cut them into small squares.
To make the ganache:
Place chopped chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it begins to gently simmer. Do not let it come to a rapid boil! Pour the cream over chocolate, then let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate, this part is key, don’t stir it yet!
After the 2-3 minutes are up, stir very slowly until completely combined. The finer you chop the chocolate, the quicker it will melt. If the chocolate doesn’t fully melt, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until it does.
Once completely cool it will thicken, and the ganache will be ready to use. Any unused ganache can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. Its great with ice cream or as a dip for strawberries!
Finally - assemble the pies!
Prepare your assembly station. Have the cut out cakes ready. Put the cream in a piping bag with a wide tip. Have the ganache at room temperature with a small spoon. Have a baking tray lined with parchment paper ready for the finished pies.
Place half of the cake cut-outs on the prepared baking tray (you should have around 24). Pipe a generous blob (around a teaspoon) of the custard into the middle of each round. Try to keep the cream in the middle, it will come to the sides of the cake when you put the tops on. Gently press a cake top onto each blob of custard. Then, stir the ganache and use a teaspoon to drizzle the chocolate ganache over the tops of the Boston Cream Pies. It doesn’t need to cover the sides, but a few drips are totally acceptable! Chill until an hour before serving. These can be made up to 4 hours ahead of time.