Monday, January 23, 2012

Boston Cream Mini Pies and Mini Donuts

Really quickly:


(I'll have to talk about my New Year soon, nothing big, since I'm back in Berkeley and my family got to go to temple and family Te^t dinner's back home in SoCal)...
Onto the post

Resources are a big issue for me. When it comes to baking and cooking, I like to scrape out the last bits and pieces of every thing I use. You can just get a tad bit more with all that wonderful batter clinging to the sides of your mixing bowl. That's why spatulas are so amazing. Another thing about baking is how some recipes call for just egg yolks or just egg whites. That bothers me a lot; like, what am I going to do with the rest of the egg after this recipe!!! I don't want to bake so soon, and especially with just egg yolks. But the situation came about after making two pies over winter break (one sapote and one pumpkin, to be posted about later). I had 4 egg yolks leftover (the pie filling used 1 whole egg and 1 egg white). Contemplating my options, I juggled the idea of making Boston cream pies (2-layer cakes filled with pastry cream and covered in chocolate ganache, which I've always wanted to try and taste) or maybe cream puffs. I ended up deciding to make a double batch of mini donuts, but with a twist.

I would make Boston Cream Mini Pies and Mini Donuts!

My idea was just to overfill the mini donut pan so it would create something like a bundt with a base at the bottom and a cavity in the center. This happened the first time I ever baked VeganYumYum's donuts, because I filled the pan about 2/3 full, causing the donuts to rise up more than they were supposed, and closing over the center. With this idea, I would fill the cavity with pastry cream and cover the whole thing in chocolate ganache.

Filled with pastry cream, awaiting a topping of chocolate P:
So I baked the donuts. I guess I didn't fill 'em up high enough, so all the donuts didn't completely get that covered cavity. I made amends partway into baking by layering a small dallop of batter on top of the central support of each donut. This created a rather lopsided rounded thing in center of the base, which I pushed down to try and make flatter to be able to stand. It turned out all right, still able to carry the loud in the center.

Boston Cream Mini Pies
Surprisingly, making pastry cream is really easy. All that is required is too simmer the eggs, milk, a bit of sugar, and (vanilla) flavoring over the stove, whisking constantly. Then you cool it to room temperature, covered, and then refrigerate. 4 eggs made quite a lot, enough for me to fill an innumerable number of mini cakes and to make a fruit tart later. I based the recipe for pastry cream off of JoyofBaking, but I used 4 egg yolks, used almond milk (OMG, best milk ever), and vanilla extract and did not put in any liqueur. I folded in a couple spoonfuls of CoolWhip topping to make it lighter, which produced the whiter color and fluffier texture.

Pastry cream is a quick and simple technique anyone can learn, and is a great way to use those leftover eggs. I really recommend every aspiring baker try it at least once.

Okay, back to the mini boston cream pies. So, since the first batch of donuts had uneven bottoms, I decided to use the rest of the batter to make mini cupcakes. I cored the center of each mini cupcake, filled it with pastry cream and slathered a beautiful layer of chocolate ganache. I liked the mini cupcakes better in terms of ease and evenness, but the mini donuts version are really awesome, especially when you can see the pastry cream and cake beneath stripes of ganache.

Cross-section. Gorgeous, no?

I also used a bit of the batter to make some regular mini donuts that I topped with the ganache as well.

Three mini donuts for my friend Sam :)
The recipe for the cake base can be found here. For the chocolate ganache (based from here), I melted about 5 oz of semisweet chocolate chips and stirred in about 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream.

Boston Cream Mini Pies and Mini Donuts
See here (double the recipe). You can bake in either a mini donut pan or a mini muffin pan. If doing in a mini donut pan, overfill the cups or place some batter over the central protrusion of each cup partway through baking.

Pastry Cream
See here. (You will have leftover pastry cream)

Chocolate Ganache
Microwave 5 oz semisweet chocolate chips (can use some dark chocolate) for about 10 seconds. Stir. Repeat until nicely melted but not overheated. Stir in 1/2 cup room temperature heavy whipping cream. Whisk until smooth. You can let cool a bit more to a consistency you like. Cover and refrigerate leftovers. Microwave briefly to make viscous again. (You will have leftovers! Wonderful for dipping with fresh fruit!)

1.  Place your mini donuts and cupcakes on a wire rack with a cookie sheet beneath.
2. Core the center out of each mini cupcake (you don't need the tops, so eat them! You know, as a taste test of course! ;-P ).

Coring the mini cupcakes
3. Fill center of each donut (upside down) or mini cupcake with pastry cream just to the top.

4. Put a generous dollop of chocolate ganache on the top of the mini cupcakes and spread with a knife around. For the mini donuts, a striped drizzle is best, accomplished by dipping a knife into the ganache and then slowly weaving across the top of the donut.

5. Let the chocolate ganache set. Serve!

*Note, the chocolate ganache can still stick to things, so when you set these up on plates and serving trays, try to separate them with enough room between pieces and for people to get their fingers in and grab one.

Saucer of goodness!