Crême Bruleé Cupcakes

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.

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.

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

Crême Bruleé Cupcakes

Yield: 12 cupcakes


For 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 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
  • .
  • granulated sugar for bruleéd 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 large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar 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. After each addition mix until just incorporated. The final batter should be smooth with no streaks of flour or buttermilk, but don't over-mix! Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.
  4. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, and then remove the cupcakes from the tin and allow to fully cool on wire rack.

For the Pastry Cream:

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in ¼ cup of the milk and set aside.
  2. Combine the rest of the milk with sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  3. Whisk eggs into the milk/cornstarch mixture until smooth.
  4. 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.
  5. Boil for one minute stirring constantly until mixture is thick, bubbly, and able to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  6. Remove from the heat and whisk in butter and vanilla.
  7. Transfer to a cold container, press some plastic wrap directly on the cream and chill immediately.

To assemble:

  1. Use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped hole into the center of each cupcake. Use a spoon or piping bag to fill each cupcake with pastry cream, as well as frosting the top with a thick layer.
  2. Sprinkle sugar all over the pastry cream, and use a kitchen torch to bruleé the sugar until it is golden and caramelized.
  3. Serve immediately. (You can fill and frost them and keep the chilled until you are ready to bruleé the tops, but the sugar will melt and get soft if it sits for too long.)


Vanilla cupcake recipe adapted slightly from: Martha Stewart Pastry Cream recipe adapted from from: Cook'n with Class (my Paris baking school.)

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram


  1. 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. 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. This is such a fun idea Audra! I wouldn’t struggled with executing these, but yours look perfect :) Can’t wait to try ’em!

  5. Amazing! Can’t wait to try these – plus, I love any excuse to use my blow torch!

  6. Audra, these look amazing! I love how such simple flavors can come together to make something so incredibly delicious. And, of course, any excuse to use the kitchen torch!

  7. Seriously I had to stop by and tell you that this idea is so genius! Who doesn’t love creme brulee but in the form of a cupcake is really incredible!

  8. 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! :)

  9. 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!! :)

  10. Creme brûlée is definitely in my top three favorite desserts so this cupcake is definitely calling my name. I love the translation of this lovely dessert into cupcake form. Brilliant!

    1. Ha! That is so funny- I’ll take that title any day. :) Thanks Stephie!

  11. Is the 1.2 cup sugar a 1/2 cup? Can’t wait to try these!!

    1. Thanks for catching that Nicole- meant to be 1/2 cup!! :)

  12. I so want one of these. Two desserts in one is always a bonus in my book. Of course, that crunchy caramelized sugar doesn’t hurt.

  13. OMG…this is something I must try. Your cupcakes looks so perfect, and I think using pastry cream is just perfect.

  14. You are a genius and this is why you have a food blog! :)

    1. Mine was from Williams Sonoma called “Creme Brulee torch” or something like that :)

    2. Oh you asked for the butane not the torch. I get mine at a random little convenience store nearby my apartment!

  15. 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?!

    1. 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 :)

  16. I love creme brulee, but it’s not very easy to transport. I love this idea. Brilliant. I can’t wait to give it a try.

  17. WOW! These look absolutely incredible and with the perfect about of crisp burnt sugar on top. I am glad you kept thinking them over since starting the blog, worked them out and shared them with us!

  18. 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!

    1. Thanks so much Megan! So nice to meet you as well! :)

  19. Melissa Jones says:

    Yummmm! Thanks for the inspiration. I love creme brulee! Nothing trumps caramelized sugar!

  20. For the buttermilk, do you mean the liquid or the powder one?

  21. Right away I am going to do myy breakfast, afterward having my
    breakfast coming yet aggain to read further news.

  22. 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!

  23. Can this be made without a torch, maybe a broiler? I so how long, temperature, etc. thanks!

    1. 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!

  24. 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!

  25. 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!!

  26. Can these be made for a party and sit out? Will the crunchy top be ruined?

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

    1. tablespoon :) I think they could be room temp for a couple hours no problem!

  28. 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!!

    1. 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.

  29. 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?

    1. Everything but but bruleé topping can be done in advance, but in order for that party to be crunchy you’d want to wait until right before serving

      1. Thanks! Can’t wait to try it :-)

  30. Can leftover pastry cream be frozen?

  31. How far in advance can the pastry cream be made in advance. I made a double batch this weekend (it turned out AMAIZING btw) but now I have left overs. If I keep it refrigerated Can I use the rest next weekend for the filling for another cake? Is 7 days pushing it or will it still be good?
    Thanks for the great recipe!

  32. Hello Audra,
    I live in Australia, and I’m wondering whether your measurements are US measurements?
    Do you have this recipe in weights by any chance?

    Thank you,

  33. ROBERTA PENA says:

    I made these and when I torch, my chilled pastry creme is melting, any suggestions?

  34. Made these cupcakes with high hopes- loved the pastry cream filling but not a fan of the cupcakes; tasted like thick pancakes. Will be altering my cupcake recipe using this filling!

  35. Olivia VDP says:

    I am thinking of making them for my class at school and I was wondering if I can freeze the cupcakes without the pastry cream going wonky.

    1. I would freeze the actual cupcakes and then keep the pastry cream in the fridge. Assemble cupcakes when ready to serve!

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