Boston Creme Mini Tarts

Have you ever been sucked into the bakery section of a grocery store?  When you go into a good one, it’s like being stuck in a black hole of desserts that you don’t want to escape from without at least a souvenir from your traumatic experience.  The mini tarts are included in some of these stores, and it’s the variety of colors that draw you in.  I tend to linger a little longer than I should, and always feel like it’s a trick question when someone behind the counter asks, “Can I help you?”  Ugh.  There is no help for me at this point, and I hate you for asking.  I’ll take a dozen, please.

IMG_6136

One day, I stumbled across some Boston Crème Mini Tarts.  A mini tart shell filled with vanilla pastry crème, topped with chocolate ganache and whipped topping.  The black hole suddenly got deeper and more violent.  I felt like I was swimming in a sea of vanilla pastry crème and chocolate ganache, eating my way out of it.  Don’t even bother throwing me a life jacket because I’d rather drown.  Unfortunately, they were made specifically for a private party that had ordered them as a specialty, and they weren’t sold in the store.  I wanted to punch the lady when she told me I couldn’t have them.  Fine then, I’ll just go home and make them myself…that’ll show her.  Although if that happens again, I should call Ronda Rousey for some help.

IMG_6138

There is a shortcut way of making these, but after I made a tart shell from scratch in culinary school, I was hooked on the buttery sweetness.  Even though it’s more time consuming and cuts into my Pinterest stalking, the taste is definitely worth the effort.  Sorry, Pinterest.  You lose.

**SHORTCUT RECIPE**

Not everyone wants or can take the time and effort to make mini tart shells from scratch, and I don’t blame them!  It is more time consuming…  But have no fear…  You can purchase pre-made mini tart shells!  You may have to do some research online to see what stores in your area sells them, or you can purchase them online and have them shipped to your house.  Bam.  Or, you can use mini phyllo shells, found in the freezer section of most grocery stores, just follow the baking instructions.  Just keep in mind that it’s MUCH cheaper to make the shells yourself…and tastier, too.

Imitation “Pastry Crème”

1 box instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 oz. frozen whipped topping (thawed)

Whisk together milk, vanilla and pudding mix, cover, set in refrigerator for 5 minutes.  Stir in whipped topping, store in refrigerator.

Chocolate Ganache

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil.  Pour over chocolate chips in bowl, whisk together until chocolate is melted.

Whipped Topping

Frozen Whipped Topping, thawed

Putting It All Together

Here’s the fun part (well, besides shoving these little bad boys into your mouth).  Using a pastry bag (or ziplock bag, or a spoon), pipe the pastry crème into the cooled tart shells.  Don’t pile it up too high though, you still gotta save room for that chocolate ganache.  It’s not Boston Crème without the chocolate ganache.  Don’t cheat yourself out of that.

**FROM SCRATCH RECIPE**

Sweet Tartlet Shell Recipe (modified from epicurious.com)

2 1/4 sticks cold unsalted butter

3 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large egg yolks

6 tablespoons ice water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cut butter into small chunks, place in a small mixing bowl and back in the refrigerator. In a large mixing bowl (or food processor), whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.  Add cold butter.  Using a pastry tool (or pulsing if in food processor),cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl whisk together yolks, ice water, and vanilla until combined well and add to flour mixture, tossing with a fork or pulsing until incorporated. Form dough into a ball and divide into 2 pieces. Form each piece into a ball and flatten to form disks. Wrap each disk separately in plastic wrap, chill for at least 1 hour and up to 1 week.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Form 1 dough disk into twenty-four 1-inch balls, keeping remaining disk wrapped and chilled. Press dough balls into bottoms and up sides of mini muffin pan (about 1 3/4 inches across top and 1 inch deep) using a tart press. Prick bottoms of shells with a wooden pick. Chill shells 15 minutes, or until firm. Bake shells in middle of oven 12 minutes, or until golden, and cool in cups on cooling racks.

Pastry Crème Recipe (modified from allrecipes.com)

2 cups milk

1/4 cup white sugar

2 egg yolks

1 egg

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/3 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a small saucepan, stir together the milk and 1/2 cup sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg.  Stir together the remaining sugar and cornstarch, then whisk them into the egg until smooth.  When the milk comes to a boil, drizzle 1/2 cup into the bowl in a thin stream while whisking constantly so that you do not cook the eggs.  Return the mixture to the saucepan, and slowly bring to a bowl, stirring constantly so the eggs don’t curdle or scorch on the bottom.  When the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, remove from the heat.  Stir in the butter and vanilla, mixing until the butter is completely blended in.  Pour into a heat-proof container and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled before using.

Chocolate Ganache Recipe

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil.  Pour over chocolate chips in bowl, whisk together until chocolate is melted.

Whipped Cream (modified from food.com)

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form, using electric mixer.  Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form.  Make sure not to over-beat, cream will become lumpy.  People don’t like cellulite on their bodies, so they certainly won’t want it in their pastries.

Putting It All Together

Here’s the fun part (well, besides shoving these little bad boys into your mouth).  Using a pastry bag (or ziplock bag, or a spoon), pipe the pastry crème into the cooled tart shells.  Don’t pile it up too high though, you still gotta save room for that chocolate ganache.

Wedding Cakes and Other Wedding Goodies

The following cakes were made for wedding events…whether it was a cake for the groom, bride, bachelor/bachelorette party, bridal shower, or the actual wedding itself.

Bridal Shower Cupcakes

bridal shower (white almond with white truffle)

Earlier this year, when my neighbor came knocking at my door to ask me if I could make some bridal shower cupcakes for her, I was more than happy to help.  She wanted to stick with the simple colors, so we just went with white and silver.  Traditional, yet elegant.  These are white almond cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream icing, edible silver sprinkles as a garnish and white chocolate wedding bells that I made with a chocolate mold and used them as a topper.

Groom’s Cake

Jess's Groom's Cake

Several months ago, I went to a friend’s bridal shower.  As we sat there chit chatting, she asked me if I could make them a cake for the rehearsal dinner…as a surprise for the groom.  This guy loves, and I mean LOVES…the zoo.  Any zoo.  They have season passes to the local zoo, and travel to other cities to check out their zoos as well.  Quite the animal lover.  So, off I went on looking at some other zoo cakes to get ideas of putting this cake together for them.  I gave her the option of two flavors, since it was going to be a larger cake, and she picked red velvet and dark chocolate.  The rock cave is made out of rice krispie treats, surrounded by Twix bars, a mixture of piping gel and icing as the pond, and graham cracker crumbs as the sand.  I just used plastic animals to go on top, the Zoo sign is made out of fondant, and I used skewer sticks to hold it up.  The sign was made ahead of time, and the sticks were attached with chocolate to the back.

Groom’s Cake

Ashleigh's Groom's Cake

While sitting at the computer one day, I received a text message from my super creative friend, asking if I could make a groom’s cake for her friend who was getting married…and in a panic, because the rehearsal dinner was in a few weeks and she didn’t have anyone making the cake.  When the bride and I started talking about what she was looking for, she wanted the theme to be around the fact that her groom loved to play Ultimate Frisbee…so she wanted an Ultimate Frisbee cake.  While doing some research, I got the basic idea of what would be something simple, yet obvious that this is what the cake was representing.  She sent me pictures of his jersey and the Frisbee that they normally use, so that’s what I based the colors on here with both.  The Frisbee is made out of gumpaste, the jersey is made out of fondant, along with the end zone lines.  The cake is dark chocolate with chocolate chips, and covered with cream cheese icing.

Wedding Cake

Leah's wedding cake

One of my childhood friends was having a very small wedding, and she asked me to make a cake for them.  She looked at several different cakes, pointed out the things she did and didn’t like about them, so I went off the information from her on what she wanted.  The top tier is 6 inch, and the bottom tier is 10 inch.  I bought the red icing roses, because I was concerned about all of the roses looking identical (yes, I’m that particular with some of this stuff).  Since I don’t make a lot of icing roses, making sure they were identical and uniform was a requirement in my head.  So, we went with the classic white icing all over the cake, black fondant ribbon as a base, and the red royal icing roses.  The entire cake is white almond, covered in buttercream icing.

Wedding Cake

ellen's cake

This cake was for my aunt.  The colors she wanted to go with were white and light blue, and since this wasn’t her first wedding, we decided to do something a little different than the traditional white cake…and switched it up!  Blue icing covered with white royal icing flowers and icing.  She wanted a square cake, so the bottom tier is 12 inches, and the top tier is 10 inches.  The bottom tier is two layer white almond cake, and the top tier is four layer chocolate caramel cake with chocolate filling.  There was literally one piece of the top tier left, and 2/3 of the bottom cake left…and that was only from 30 people eating it!  I did up cutting a bunch of pieces of cake for people coming back for seconds, and who also wanted both flavors.  The spiked pillars are separating the tiers, and I loved it this way.  Since the cake was traveling (and the church was in the middle of nowhere, and we made 4 u-turns trying to find the place), it worked out perfectly that the cake wasn’t put together until we got to the site.  I didn’t want a repeat of the Alice in Wonderland Cake, especially since this was the same side of the family.  😉

Girly Bling Cake

IMG_4827

This wasn’t made for a wedding, but honestly I think it would be amazing for a bachelorette party or some sort of bridal shower for a girly girl.  This is a 10 inch 4 layer yellow cake with buttercream icing ruffles, bling border, plastic tiara, edible silver glitter, and a gumpaste high heel.  I actually used a high heeled shoe mold to make this shoe, and LOVED the way it turned out.

Also, the Girls Night Out Cake I made a while back would also be great for a bachelor or bachelorette party.  And I’ll be honest…I’ve actually made some R-rated chocolate lollipops for bachelor and bachelorette parties in the past, but I don’t think it would be exactly kid-friendly to post the pictures on here…but it’s definitely an option if you’re looking for something to add.  😉

And if you want a REALLY girly cake that’s covered with all kinds of girly goodies, check out the 40th Birthday Girly Cake.  Just take away the 40 topper, and you’ve got a killer bachelorette party cake!