Crême Bruleé Cupcakes

 Crême Bruleé Cupcakes via The Baker Chick

I’ve had this cupcake idea on the brain for years. Seriously. I mean it was possibly one of my first blog ideas when I started. I always knew it was something I wanted to try- but for the life of me I couldn’t conceive how to make it happen. Crême Bruleé has always been one of my favorite desserts, and it just seemed time for its creamy vanilla filling and crunchy burnt sugar topping to make it’s way into a cupcake.

 Crême Bruleé Cupcakes via The Baker Chick

But inspiration never struck… so to the back burner the idea went. That is until a decent amount of delicious vanilla bean pastry cream was leftover from my recent macaron project, and I needed to figure out a way to use it.

I knew that pastry cream wouldn’t be exactly the same texture as the custard from my favorite French dessert, but it was worth a try right? I needed something that was sturdy enough to be filling and “frosting” on a cupcake, and my silky pastry cream seemed like just the thing.

 Crême Bruleé Cupcakes via The Baker Chick

Well I have to admit I couldn’t be more pleased with how these turned out! The fluffy vanilla cake is the perfect base for the filling, and when I took my first bite and tapped the bruleéd top and watched it break, I knew I made something special.

Now you do need a kitchen torch for these, no broiler alternative unfortunately- but I really think it’s worth it. They are pretty cheap, small and I use mine all the time! What else can I brulée!?

PS- I had the most wonderful, educational experience at the King Arthur Flour Blog & Bake these last few days. I plan on sharing everything with you very soon!

 Crême Bruleé Cupcakes via The Baker Chick

Crême Bruleé Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes

 Crême Bruleé Cupcakes via The Baker Chick


    For the Cupcakes:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T buttermilk
  • For the Pastry Cream:
  • 1 pint whole milk (2 cups)
  • 6 T cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 oz butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (or a whole pod)
  • pinch of salt
  • *sugar for topping


    For the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with liners; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated; scrape down sides of bowl, and beat in vanilla.
  3. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with flour, mixing until just combined after each addition. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl- making sure there are no streaks of flour.
  4. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes- then take cupcakes out of the pan and cool the rest of the way on a wire rack.
  5. For the Pastry Cream:
  6. In a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in ¼ cup of the milk and set aside.
  7. Combine the rest of the milk with sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  8. Whisk eggs into the milk/cornstarch mixture until smooth.
  9. Temper the eggs by pouring 1/3 of the boiling milk into the egg mixture in a steady stream with one hand, while gently stirring with the other hand. When mixed together add the milk/eggs back to the saucepan with the rest of the milk.
  10. Boil for one minute stirring constantly until mixture is thick, bubbly, and able to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  11. Remove from the heat and whisk in butter and vanilla.
  12. Transfer to a cold container, press some plastic wrap directly on the cream and chill completely before using in the cupcakes.
  13. To assemble:
  14. Use a paring knife to make a cone shaped hole in the center of each cupcake. Use a spoon or piping bag to fill and frost each cupcake with pastry cream.
  15. Cupcakes can be chilled at this stage until right before serving, when ready- sprinkle the sugar generously over every inch of the pastry cream (more sugar than you think is needed to create that crispy layer.), use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar until golden brown and melted.
  16. Serve immediately.


Cupcake Recipe slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Pastry Cream Recipe adapted from Cook'n with Class (My Paris cooking school.)

(The pastry cream can be made in advance and refrigerated up until you're ready to use it. If it seems stiff- loosen it by either running it through a food processor or using an immersion blender. (what I did.) It will be smooth and silky within seconds!)

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 Crême Bruleé Cupcakes via The Baker Chick  Crême Bruleé Cupcakes via The Baker Chick  Crême Bruleé Cupcakes via The Baker Chick

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  1. says

    Great minds think alike! Creme brulee cupcakes have forever been on my to-bake list too, so I need to try these! I’ve been struggling with the logistics of it as well, but it looks like you nailed it :) Pinned!

  2. says

    This is pretty much the most brilliant idea ever! How is it that I’ve never thought about this myself?! Creme Bruleè is one of my absolute favorite desserts and making it in cupcake-form…wow! The best combo ever!

    xo, Elisa

  3. Marnely Rodriguez Murray says

    Ok, the description of you biting into these and the combination of crunchy burnt sugar, creamy pastry cream, and fluffy cake!? I need some of these ASAP!

  4. Becca from cookie jar treats says

    Wow, this is an ingenious idea. I would have never thought of making a creme brule type cake. It looks really delicious! :)

  5. says

    I’ve been wanting to make these for ages as well! I found a recipe which was called creme brulee cupcakes, but they were not like this! I love how these have proper pastry cream inside. Have to make your cupcakes now, they’re way better than the other recipe I found!! :)

  6. VIckie Palmer says

    I made these cupcakes, and while they tasted delish, the topping did not turn out as pretty as yours. How much sugar do I need to sprinkle on each cupcake top to get the creme brulee look and crack of the spoon?!

    • says

      Hey Vickie- sorry if that was unclear in the recipe. You really need every bit of pastry cream to be covered in sugar in order for it to caramelize properly. I will edit the recipe to note that :)

  7. says

    YES. These look like the most perfect cupcake remix of creme brulee. I can’t wait to make these.

    P.S. It was nice to briefly meet you at food blog forum!

  8. Laurie says

    Made these this weekend for a friend’s birthday dinner and they turned out fabulous! Added some homemade raspberry sauce and a few fresh raspberries on the plate and they were perfect! Thanks for the great instructions!

    • says

      Hi Grace- I really don’t recommend it because broilers tend to burn things really quickly. I’d suggest getting a kitchen torch- they are cheap and so fun to use!

  9. Melody says

    Cupcakes came out wonderfully delicious but I think we struggled a bit with the pastry cream. It was our first ever attempt at making pastry cream so I kind of expected we’d have issues. Ours looks perfect but smells super eggy. We tempered and found no scramble in the mixture but I just know something must have went wrong. All in all, the cupcakes really came out great for our first attempt but need to figure out what may have caused the cream to be so eggy! Great recipe!

  10. May says

    Hi there! Awsome recepe!! Everyone at home loved it the first time but the second and third not so much, the pastry came out a little soft, is the “T” for the cornstarch for tablespoon? I used teaspoon and I’m thinking that was my mistake. Thanks!!

  11. Ally says

    Hi, what does the T for the buttermilk and cornstarch stand for? Also, how long can I keep the assembled cupcakes in room temperature?

  12. Mary says

    I was wowed by a wonderful creme brulee cupcake during a visit to a cafe (Molly’s Cupcakes) on Bleecker Street in NYC, last year. Your recipe looked like my chance to recreate this!! So far I just tried making the pastry creme and it turned out way too thick, I think. Just checking whether the 6 Tablespoons of corn starch might be a misprint. I will toss my solid ‘blob’ and try again with way less cornstarch.
    With a slight adjustment, I know I will be on the road to a heavenly creation!
    Thanks for the inspiration!!

    • says

      That is what I used but you’re not the first person to mention the filling being too thick. I have made these 3x and it always works out well! If you have success with less please let me know your results and I will make a note.

  13. Rach says

    hi, these look amazing!
    I wanted to know if they can be made the night before and served the following day or will the crunchy top turn soggy in the fridge?

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