in the kitchen with: penny’s boston cream pies

I have had a craving for a Boston Creme pie for a long time, so I was really happy when Williamsburg (Brooklyn) pastry chef Penny Stankiewicz offered up a recipe for mini Boston Creme pies just in time for Valentine’s day. If the length of the recipe seems a bit daunting, just take it a stage at a time, and it will come together quickly at the end. I hope it inspires you to make something sweet to share with someone this weekend. Or any time… You shouldn’t need an excuse to eat cake! Happy Valentine’s Day! – Kristina

About Penny: Formerly a documentary film producer, Sugar Couture owner and founder Penny Stankiewicz signed up for a pastry program at the Institute of Culinary Education to fulfill a desire to combine her interest in the food industry and her growing passion for creative expression. After completing her degree in Pastry Arts, Sugar Couture was born. Since 2004, when Penny began creating sweet, lasting memories, celebrities such as Tony Bennett, John Mayer, Wyclef Jean, Hugh Jackman, Adele, Hayley Duff, Russell Simmons, Betsey Johnson and Donna Karan have enjoyed Sugar Couture’s magnificent masterpieces. Penny lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with her husband Jay Sampson and their dog Sasha. In addition to Sugar Couture, she also offers private classes.

CLICK HERE for the full recipe after the jump!

Mini Boston Cream Pies

Much more cake than pie, Boston Cream Pie is two layers of a light sponge cake, filled with luscious vanilla pastry cream and topped with a rich chocolate icing. Start by making the glaze so it can set by the time you need it. Then make the pastry cream so it can cool while the cakes bake. And lastly, make the cakes, using a gentle hand to achieve the most delicate sponge.

Making these cakes in charming individual portions makes the baking super quick. You can use 3 inch individual pans, or spread the batter on a sheet pan… about 11”x 17”… and the rounds can be cut out with a pastry cutter or clean appropriate size can, after the cake has cooled. The recipe makes 6 -3 inch cakes.

As always with baking, make sure your ingredients are at room temperature before beginning the recipe, and measure all ingredients out before beginning to mix to insure the best results.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

5 ounces good quality dark chocolate (…I use Callebaut)
6 ounces heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 ounces (half stick) of butter

-Chop the chocolate finely and place in a heatproof bowl.

-Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it reaches a full boil. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Shake the bowl gently to make sure the hot cream covers all the chocolate. Let this mix sit about 5 minutes.
-Whisk mixture until chocolate is combined and glossy.

Add the butter and whisk until combined.

Add corn syrup and combine.
-Cover glaze with a piece of plastic wrap touching the surface to avoid a skin forming. Set this mix aside at room temperature until you’re ready to assemble the cakes.

1 cup whole milk
4 T cornstarch
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
2 ounces (half stick) butter
½ vanilla bean or
2 tsp best quality vanilla extract

-Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/2 cup of cold milk. Add eggs to cornstarch mixture.
-Combine the rest of the milk and the sugar, and if using the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from half the pod and add to milk and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly drizzle hot milk mixture into the egg/cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. As the eggs become more comfortable with the hot temperature, you can add the milk more quickly.

-Pour this back into the saucepan and cook, over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until the cream comes together. It will take a while, but once it starts, it will move quickly. Keep stirring until the cream has become thick. Cook until you see one or two bubbles pop from the cream, to make sure to cook out the chalky texture of the cornstarch.

-Transfer the pastry cream to a clean bowl. Beat in softened butter and if using the vanilla extract, add it here. Place over a bowl of ice water to cool quickly. Cover with plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin from building up. Keep over ice or in the refrigerator until use.

3 eggs- separated
1 cup sugar
½ vanilla bean or
best quality vanilla extract
1 2/3 (7 oz) cups cake flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
8 TBS (or one stick) of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of whole milk

-Prepare mini pans or sheet pans by coating liberally with baking spray or brushing with butter and dusting with a thin coat of flour.

-Melt butter with milk in microwave- set aside.

-Sift cake flour with baking powder and salt. Set aside.

-With an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites, slowly streaming in half of the sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
-Again, in the electric mixer, whip egg yolks while slowly streaming in the remaining sugar until the ribbon stage. When the beaters are lifted, the batter will stream from the whisk forming a ribbon.

-With the mixer on, stream in the butter/milk mixture into the egg yolks. Add seeds from vanilla bean or vanilla extract.

-With a rubber spatula, gently fold the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture in 3 additions.
-Gently fold whipped egg whites into yolk/flour mixture in two additions until just combined. Fill the prepared pans half full with cake batter. If using the sheet pan, evenly spread the batter in the prepared pan.
-Bake at 350 degrees for 14-18 minutes, until light golden brown and top springs back when touched.
-With a serrated knife, cut off any domed top from the cakes. Cut each cake in half, or alternately cut out 3” rounds with pastry cutter or clean can.
-For finest presentation, you can add the pastry cream to a piping bag fitted with a ½” tip and pipe cream in a spiral on the bottom half of the cake. Alternately, spoon the cream on top of bottom round of cake and smooth. Top pastry cream with another round of cake.

-With a small off set spatula, spread set chocolate glaze on tops of the mini cakes. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Why I chose this recipe:

I spend my days with cakes, so no doubt I love them, but when I want to make something different I love making these mini Boston Cremes. The light sponge cake is really a stage for the stars of the show… creamy custard and rich chocolate ganache! The individual size portion is terrific for entertaining and makes your guests feel special, having their very own cake.

  1. O to the…
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  2. Halie says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Boston Cream Pie is my Bf’s favorite cake and it’s so hard to buy or even find a good recipe for. I think I know what I’m giving him for Vday now!!

  3. Joyce says:

    Oh how I love to serve mini portions to my guests since it seems the entire world (including myself) is always on a diet. Not to mention they look so cute too. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Anna says:

    These are so pretty!
    How much vanilla should be used for the sponge cake if I don’t have the vanilla bean in the pantry?

    1. grace says:

      hi anna!

      the recipe says:

      “½ vanilla bean or
      2 tsp best quality vanilla extract”

      so i would try that to start. let me know if it doesn’t work :)


  5. Jenn says:

    Your photos are lovely :)

  6. Carrie says:

    Um. Wow. Will be trying this one for sure.

  7. Margaret says:

    Under the cake
    “-Melt butter with milk in microwave- set aside.” How much butter & milk, please. Thanks very much! Want to try this for my husband. – M

    1. grace says:

      hi guys!

      looking into these amount questions right now- will update asap :)


  8. Jenny says:

    oooh those pastries look YUMMY!!!!

  9. Penny says:

    Hi Guys… thanks so much for the wonderful feature DS….
    And to everyone for the super kind comments!

    To replace 1/2 of a vanilla bean use 1 tsp of extract. For whole bean use 2 tsp.

    As for the question on melting the milk and butter, it was a typo when retyping….
    For the cake batter, Melt 8 TBS (or one stick) of unsalted butter and 1/2 cup of whole milk.
    Sorry for the mix up!

  10. d says:

    Nicodemus Green said:
    February 12th, 2010 – 12:24 pm

    O to the…
    M to the…
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    Wow, it’s not that serious, it is just a mini boston cream pie, lol.

  11. looks so yummy! I’m on such a chocolate kick–will have to make this soon, almost too beautiful to eat! Just made a chocolate bread pudding that was wickedly good!

  12. Kristin H. says:

    These look amazing! Is there any other syrup I can subsitute for the corn syrup? Maybe Lyle’s?

  13. Penny says:

    Kristin- Yes, you can definitely use Lyle’s instead of corn syrup, or can omit it completely. Its just a little addition to help keep the chocolate pliable, and increases the shine of the glaze.

  14. Anna says:

    Yes, I did see the vanilla amount for the pastry cream. I was wondering about the sponge cake itself, though.
    Thanks so much! I’m looking forward to trying the recipe.

    1. grace says:

      hi anna

      penny left a little conversion tip in the comments :)


  15. Susan says:

    What a great idea! I love mini and I’m already searching the web for mini pans!

  16. Lisa says:

    what a gorgeous treat!

  17. these photos are amazing!

  18. Shelley says:

    So sweet! Tiny Boston Cream Pies, yum! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  19. Stacey says:

    thanks for the recipe i’m drooling, yummy

  20. These look scrumptious. I wonder if I’d have any problem with the sponge cake in a non-confection oven?

  21. Penny says:

    Hi Megan,

    The recipe doesn’t call for a convection oven, so you should be fine. But as a general note, cakes are fine to bake in a convection oven… you would just decrease the temperature the recipe call for by 25 degrees.

  22. Jenni says:

    I tried these tonight and I learned so much making them. Thank you for your recipe. We had the best treat ever!

  23. kim says:

    Penny, where do I find 3″ cake tins? Local shops in my area do not carry so small a pan.

  24. Penny says:

    Hi Kim,

    If 3″ cake pans won’t be in use frequently in your kitchen, you can bake these in a sheet pan and cut out rounds with a cookie cutter or clean can. You could also bake them in cupcake tins too, although you’d have a bit of a sloped side.

    If you’re just loving the idea of the itsy bitys pans, then you can find them here…

  25. kristina says:

    Hi Kim,

    I’d also recommend looking in your yellow pages for a professional baking supply store. Not sure where you live, but they are stores like Little Bits in Silver Spring, MD, Lynelle’s in Huntsville, AL, the Broadway Pandhandler (although that’s very home-cook oriented), or I think Surfas in Culver City- or Peroni in Rome.

    Otherwise, if you live in a small town, just find the older ladies who do all the wedding stuff in town, and they will know. I used to get great decorating tips from the women at Little Bitts– they were pros!!!

    Or of course, try online. Probably cheaper! But nothing beats the experience of going into these shops and having a look around.


  26. Rachel says:

    This so makes me wish I wasn’t allergic to chocolate.

  27. Penny says:

    Hi Rachel,

    When people tell me they are allergic to chocolate, they can often still eat white chocolate. If you’re one of them, you can replace the dark chocolate in the glaze recipe. Instead of heating the cream, you’d melt the white chocolate first, then whisk in the room temperature heavy cream and very soft butter into the melted chocolate. You might have to chill this a bit too, to get it to the right consistency.

  28. nikolet* says:

    sweet! where did you get these pans? I have been looking all over for them.

    Thanks for the post!

  29. Kitchen says:

    MMMM…yummy! Thanks for the recipe.

  30. Emily says:

    The cakes look divine and I love that you’ve made them into tea cup-size cakes. Thanks for sharing your recipe :)

  31. theresa horvath says:

    Please, let me know what a “TWINKIE” looks like. A friend never heard of it. Also the boston creme pie that was a circle folded and cream inside. Thank you.

  32. Penny says:

    Hi Penny,

    This Penny’s favorite birthday cake as a child was Boston Cream pie, and Mom made the best! Unfortunately I lost her to cancer a long time ago, so I didn’t have her to rely on to share that special treat with me. Thank you for giving back to me a very special memory of special times with my Mom.


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