foods and cuisines

Boston cream doughnut | The taste of Boston

The Boston cream doughnut (or Boston cream pie doughnut, also spelled donut) is a round, solid, yeast-risen doughnut with chocolate frosting and a custard filling, resulting in a doughnut reminiscent of a miniature Boston cream pie.

The doughnut was inspired by the Boston cream pie which was, in turn, created by chef M. Sanzian at Boston’s Parker House Hotel in 1856. The cake consists of vanilla-flavored custard sandwiched between two-layers of sponge cake and topped with chocolate glaze and has been popular in Massachusetts since its creation. The doughnut adaptation of the pie is popular not only in Massachusetts but throughout the United States and Canada.

Alternative names Boston cream pie doughnut
Type Doughnut
Place of origin United States
Region or state New England
Main ingredients Dough, chocolate icing, custard

Ingredients used to make Boston Cream donuts

Doughnut Dough: You’ll need one batch of my doughnut dough recipe.
Cornstarch: This will help thicken the creme pat filling.
Sugar: Be sure to following the cooking steps accurately because you want to get the mixture boiling so the granulated sugar melts and incorporates into the cream. This will ensure a smooth filling consistency.
Milk: You’ll want to use whole milk or 2% milk for higher fat content to get the right texture on the Boston cream doughnut filling recipe.
Large Eggs: You’ll just need the egg yolks. This will make a type of vanilla custard filling. The eggs are tempered, so they won’t be raw!
Butter: Room temperature. You’ll need butter for the filling and for the chocolate frosting.
Powdered Sugar: Sift the powdered sugar on its own before sifting it with the cocoa powder. This will provide an even smoother texture. The Boston cream doughnuts are iconic for the shine on the chocolate, which is hard to get if there are lumps in the mixture.
Cocoa Powder: Using chocolate chips and cocoa powder will give us a richer chocolate flavor in the glaze.
Heavy Cream: This will loosen up the frosting mixture. You can use more or less to get the desired consistency.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  • Make the doughnuts. Follow along with my Doughnut Dough Recipe. While the doughnuts are doing their last proof, make the cream filling.
  • Make the Boston cream doughnut filling. Whisk the egg yolks together in a small bowl. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk, stirring constantly until it begins thickening and bubbling. Reduce to simmer and simmer for 2 minutes and remove from heat.
  • Temper the egg yolks. Take 1/2 cup of the mixture and slowly stream it into the bowl of egg yolks, whisking constantly. Now the eggs are tempered. Add the egg mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, always stirring. The mixture will be thick! Remove from heat
  • Add butter and vanilla. Strain and chill. Add the butter and vanilla and stir until smooth. Strain the mixture with a fine mesh strainer. Cover and and chill for 3-4 hours.
  • Make the chocolate glaze. Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa together in a small bowl. Set aside. Place the chocolate chips and butter in a separate, medium-sized bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it bubbles along the edge of the saucepan. Pour the cream over the chocolate and butter. Do not stir! Let sit for 1 minute. Now whisk until fully melted and combined. Whisk in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder mixture. Add in the vanilla. The consistency will be like hot fudge.
  • Fry the doughnuts in hot oil. In a medium saucepan or pot, heat oil over medium heat until the oil reaches a temperature of 360°F-375°F. Fry the doughnuts, flipping them over when the bottom is golden brown in color. Remove and place them on paper towels on a plate or baking sheet.
  • Fill the Boston cream donuts. Take the filling and place it in a pastry bag. Using a chopstick (or something similar), poke a hole in one side of the donut. Fill with about 1-2 tablespoons of cream filling. Repeat with each donut.
  • Dip in chocolate glaze. Dip the top of the donuts in the chocolate coating until halfway submerged. The chocolate should coat the top. Let cool, glaze side up, on a wire rack until the glaze is set.

Recipe Tips

Use a good quality vanilla! After all, it is the main source of flavor in the creme pat.

When chilling the pastry cream filling, press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a film developing on top.

I always run my pastry cream through a fine mesh strainer to ensure a velvety smooth texture.

I almost always sift my powdered sugar (unless I’m making muddy buddies) because I don’t want any lumps or bumps in whatever recipe I’m making.

You can use semi-sweet, bittersweet, or milk chocolate chips. If you opt for milk chocolate chips, note that the glaze will be extra sweet! I used semi-sweet chocolate chips in this Boston cream donut recipe.

When it comes to making the chocolate glaze, it’s important you let the hot cream sit with the chocolate chips and butter because this time brings down the temperature of the heavy cream while slowly melting the chocolate chips. Stirring prematurely will result in a gritty texture.

When filling the doughnuts, they’ll begin to swell slightly. If you are looking for an even fill across all your doughnuts, I use a kitchen scale for accuracy.

Don’t make the cut-out donuts or else you won’t be able to fill them!

If your glaze was a bit runny and you find it dripping down the sides of the doughnuts, you can thicken it with a bit of sifted powdered sugar. Last some parchment paper under the cooling rack to catch any chocolate drippings.

If you have any questions about making the homemade doughnut dough, see my Doughnut Dough Recipe for step-by-step instructions, tips and more!

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

You can make the doughnuts a day in advance and store them in the fridge in an airtight container to fill and glaze the next day.

Store the donuts in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days. Once filled and glazed, they are best enjoyed within a day or two.

If you want to freeze the donuts, I recommend freezing them unfilled and unglazed. Let them cool completely and then wrap individually in plastic wrap. Store in an airtight container or Ziplock bag in the freezer for 1-2 months. Let thaw in the fridge overnight. Let come to room temperature the next day and proceed with filling and glazing.