Bewitching Boston Cream Pie

Boston Cream Pie

By now you’ve probably figured out that Boston Cream Pie isn’t a pie at all. Invented at the Parker House Hotel in Boston – and now the official dessert of Massachusetts – the dessert is so named because it was more common back in the day to bake a cake in a pie tin rather than a cake pan. Honestly, it’s hard to find a good piece of Boston Cream Pie – even in Boston. Like the whoopie pie, there are a lot of terrible reproductions.

A good piece of Boston Cream Pie should be light, almost cloud-like, with a fluffy cake, a creamy but airy filling and topped with fine bittersweet chocolate.

boston cream pie collage

This year, Boston Cream Pie is our anniversary cake.

So tell me, whether you’re married or not, what does your ideal anniversary look like? Does it involve dessert?

This is by far the best recipe I’ve tested. I’ve adapted it a bit, so that it’s more authentic to the region. I know you’ll love it as much as we do.

Boston Cream Pie (Adapted from Chef Bo Friberg)

Cake Base
4 egg whites
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) half and half
455 g cake flour
455 g sugar
16 g baking powder
2.5 g salt
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla extract
340 g melted unsalted butter
1 whole egg
1. Grease and flour two 10″ pie pans. You can use any size pans you want. I happened to use square pans because I wanted individual square slices. I also usually make the cake a day or two in advance to make the process easier.
2. Stir together the egg whites and one third of the half and half.
3. Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the vanilla, melted butter, remaining 2/3 of half and half and the whole egg. Beat at high speed for a 2-3 minutes. Gradually stir in the egg white mixture and mix until combined. Divide between cake pans.
4. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until the cake springs back when you press it lightly with your finger.
5. When cake cools, cut of all crust and brush the base layer with rum syrup.
Rum Syrup
1/4 c (60 ml) dark rum or Grand Marnier
1/4 c (60 ml) water
2 tbs. sugar
Combine all ingredients. Cook until dissolved.
Pastry Cream
1 pint whole milk
30 g cornstarch
115 g. sugar
1 g. salt
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
55 g unsalted butter
1/2 c. heavy cream (120 ml)
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the cornstarch, sugar and salt together with a fork until well-blended. Using the whisk attachment, add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.
2. Boil the milk.
3. Slowly add about 1/3 of the hot milk to the egg mixture while whisking rapidly. Pour the tempered mixture back into the pan and stir.
4. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Stir in the vanilla and the butter.
5. Pour into a bowl to cool and cover with waxed paper to prevent skin from forming.
6. When completely cool, whip 1/2 cup of heavy cream and fold into the pastry cream. Refrigerate.
Chocolate glaze
455 g dark chocolate
140 g unsalted butter
40 grams cocoa powder
1/4 c (60 ml) rum or grand marinier
3/4 c (180 ml) corn syrup
1. Chop and melt the chocolate. Add the butter and stir until blended.
2. Stir in the cocoa powder. Stir in the corn syrup and alcohol.
3. If glaze hardens, heat in microwave until desired consistency is achieved.
Assembly
Trim cake crusts.
Brush base layer of cake with rum syrup.
Place pastry cream filling between the cake layers.
Press down gently so that the cream comes to the sides.
Top with chocolate.
Serve immediately.
That’s it.

Bon appetit!

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42 Comments
  1. love the story, LOVE the cake! you and your husband are exactly how my fiancee and i are. we’d much rather celebrate an anniversary with a meal made together, a day outdoors all to ourself or some project we’ve both been looking forward to. nice on the pocketbook!

    cheers,

    *heather*

  2. Of course it involves dessert:) We prefer to stay in and make our own special meal. Our anniversary is in a few weeks, I better start planning the menu.

  3. I’ve just finished dinner and now I’m craving your Boston cream pie! Oh, the last photo is very provocative! I will have to take a look in my cupboard if I find at least some chocolate! 🙂
    We mostly don’t celebrate our anniversary as we both often forget it and remember one or two weeks later. If we occasionally don’t forget, we usually have a nice dinner together.

  4. Oh how lovely!!! What a wonderful dessert to celebrate each other with. 🙂 I’ve never made this or eaten it, but you’ve inspired me to try very soon. 🙂 Happy Anniversary! 🙂

  5. I LOVE Boston Cream Pie, and you’re absolutely right about how frequently it’s not all that great. People throw some custard in between a few layers of cake and call it a day…I’m really, really excited to try this recipe. Trying to remember where in Boston I had really mind-blowing Boston Cream Pie…when it comes to me, I’ll let you know!

    Happy, happy anniversary. Anniversaries and every milestone, in my book, deserve a special dessert!

  6. Oh I am soo sorry about the garden! Such a sweet idea!!

    For us, food makes our anniversary. We make something special leisurely multicourse meal, which ALWAYS includes dessert! :DD can’t without a little sweet ;-))

  7. Yummy looking cake. I may give this a try this weekend. What kind of chocolate do you suggest? Will it ruin the flavor if I don’t use alcohol?

  8. We were in Boston for the first time last March. Gorgeous. So was the pie. But it is a cake? That has always been my surprise. Love your post and the story… and, with your recommendation, I will try this recipe to see if it congers up memories of last Spring in Boston.
    🙂
    Valerie

  9. I remember occasionally eating Boston Cream Pie for dessert in the cafeteria at the college I went to (in MA). It was tasty enough, but this looks so much above and beyond any ordinary version. I’m not sure what my ideal anniversary looks like, our first anniversary is in July. We had a potluck dessert for our wedding which was amazing, so I suspect a dessert on a smaller scale will be involved.

  10. Happy Anniversary! Sounds like a wonderfu day in the gardens. And what a heavenly way to ends- with dessert! I haven’t had Boston Cream in so long….mmmm

  11. Looking good! Happy Anniversary to you. I like the roses, chocolates and fancy dinner kind of night!!

  12. El, what a bewitching dessert and I love your story. I don’t believe in gifts as well as “little things” speak/say so much more. I love the story.

  13. Amelia, any kind of good quality chocolate will work. I used Callebaut. You can make it without alcohol but I definitely suggest making a simple syrup by boiling equal parts sugar and water and using it to brush on the cake. It adds a lot of moisture. Good luck!

  14. Woww !!! Thanks for letting ME know your blog !!, both blogs actually !!

    Incredible energy, food, phtography AND blue skies (I miss that here in Paris…)
    With all my admiration,
    un beso,
    Cristina

  15. This is a combination of love at first bite and love at first sight. I found your blog by chance and had planned only to say hello and then move on. I, instead, started reading your earlier posts and stayed far longer than I intended. This is a wonderful place to visit. I’ll be back as often as I can. Blessings…Mary

  16. The pie looks delicious and the garden tour, oh, I’d like to visit it too, I’m just really too far from there…but I really enjoy your pictures…What a lovely idea to design a garden for you…I’m not very good with flowers and plants but I’d really like to have a garden, so relaxing…

  17. As someone commented, virtual love at first bite indeed, it’s bewitching El! The high point of our anniversary {or birthdays etc} is always the dessert, which HAS to be home made. Like you, I’m not one for diamonds, crystal and gifts. I’d much rather pluck a few stalks from my garden, buy vintage stuff, and make dessert! Great post!!

  18. My first anniversary is coming up in a few months, and yes, it will definitely include dessert. Something chocolate. 🙂

    I love the idea of not buying gifts and doing something meaningful. I may have to tell Mr Mélanger about your anniversary garden. Roses and lavender are my absolute two favourites. I’ve got the lavender, just waiting on the roses. Perhaps for our anniversary? Speaking of gardens, you sure have made me miss the lovely Beacon Hill with your other blog. I loved that little stretch of Boston when I lived there. Gorgeous photographs!

  19. this blog is just as beautiful as your other one! i have never had Boston Cream Pie, but i think i’m going to have to try your recipe along with many others on this blog. everything looks so decadent. i love to cook and making desserts is at the top of my list. i love good quality desserts made with the best ingredients and yours look amazing! i love how you and your husband make things for each other for your anniversary (the (garden/desserts). i know that garden was breath taking and meant a lot to you. i’m not married but dessert is always one of my favorite ways to celebrate anything. thanks for sharing!

    God Bless,
    Charmaine

  20. Now I feel like I’ve been missing something all of my life. Seriously! The only “Boston Cream Pie” I’ve ever eaten has come from a box at my grocer’s freezer section. Your description of the cake makes me painfully aware that I have been missing out on an extraordinary taste sensation…I must resolve this problem…and soon!

    jessyburke88@gmail.com

  21. Looks terrific! I want a slice!
    My perfect anniversary involves a good dinner, a wonderful dessert and romance. heavy on the romance. I don’t need a fancy gift, but I do need love and appreciation.

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