Thursday, January 21, 2010

Boston Cream Pie - It's One Wicked Pissah of a Cake

I'm so glad I can't do a decent Boston accent, otherwise this video recipe for Boston cream pie would have probably been really annoying because I would have done the entire voiceover in it.

This is my quick and easy version of Boston's Pa
rker House Hotel's famous cake. Why is it called a pie? Your guess is as good as mine, but what I do know is that a real Boston cream pie is comprised of two layers of sponge cake, not a yellow cake from a boxed mix.So technically this is only two-thirds of a Boston cream pie, but trust me, it's the most important two-thirds. In the video, I joke about the cake in this recipe simply acting as a pastry cream and chocolate ganache delivery system. I wasn't joking.

A Boston cream pie is all about the cream and ganache. In fact, here's a tip in case you want to take that idea and run with it – instead of two cakes, just use one. Use a long, serrated knife to split the cake in two, and proceed with the recipe as shown.

By the way, in a testament to just how busy I am, I completely forgot to mention those hairless hands you'll see stirring, whisking, and pouring, belong to my wife – the lovely and talented Michele.

Enjoy!



Ingredients:
yellow cake mix, prepared according to directions
For the pastry cream:
1/2 tbsp butter
1 cup whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
6 tablespoons sugar (upon further review we've added another tablespoon of sugar)
2 tablespoon cornstarch
3 eggs
1 or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or to taste
big pinch of salt
For the chocolate ganache:
4 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, preferably bittersweet
1/2 cup cream
1 teaspoon butter


View the complete recipe

103 comments:

Healthy and Homemade said...

YUM.

Need to make this, like now. Or actually like 1/2 an hour ago so I could eat it.

BigStupidFingers said...

Boston Cream Pie is NOT one of my favorites... yet it looks amazing and I know I'm going to make this... and inevitably... love it. sigh Chef John you're the best.

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

Wicked cool (that was said with a Rhode Island accent) lol. Love the cake!

Attila said...

I'm so making this at my next dinner party!

franiqueblack said...

+1 recipe!
:]

connieemeraldeyes said...

That looks so good.

Kurdistan said...

wow cant wait to try it my husband will love it so much

DeLynn said...

MY FAVORITE. Thank you!!!!

Raina said...

I am droolin' all over my keyboard now! got to try it ASAP.

Thanks

Flour said...

Food porn alert!!! LOL
Must bookmark this to make later. Looks so yummy!

PukaDog said...

Wow!

Tkriger said...

Is there any difference between the 1 cup of whipping cream in the Pastry cream and the 1/2 cup cream in the ganache? IE, do I need to buy two different types of cream?

Chris K. said...

I just ganached all over my keyboard.

Sorry.

Chef John said...

yes, same cream in both

Chris K. said...

Chef, I truly hope you were replying to Tkriger. For both our sakes.

Denise Drake said...

WHAT?!?!? We can use a BOXED cake mix????? Yippee! I'm free at last. Seriously- that Boston Cream Pie looks easy AND fantastic. Thank you so much Chef John.

Anonymous said...

How is this a cream pie--when you use cake. Also I missed the Boston ingredient--what part of boston do you put in? :)

I know--chef john does the jokes..but I couldn't resist. Thanks for the eye candy of a great dessert--you should do more desserts!

BGM said...

A box cake mix? How lazy can you get?

Eliza said...

Hi again, Chef John. Could i use the cream in this recipe to fill mini eclers, and the ganache as icing? i have a good dough recipe, but i've been looking for a good filling, and an icing that doesn't have fondant in in. Thank you!

Chef John said...

Yes u can , it's perfect for that.

Chef John said...

BGM,

I usually don't publish the really stupid comments, but I made an exception for you.

Ana said...

Hi Chef,
I have struggled with making a good pastry cream, and am definitely going to try your recipe!
Do you think it would affect the recipe if I substituted whole milk for the cream in order to lighten the recipe a bit?

Chef John said...

yes, it wont be as rich and creamy, but some prefer it that way

Something Different said...

Chef John, I love your site! I came across it a while ago (linked via lifehacker on the how to eat wings post) and have been following your blog ever since. The recipes are amazing and the videos are clear and easy to understand and follow.

I have a request though. I am on a diet and can't eat any of your recipes! (Or, barely any of them.) Can you please post some low calorie/diet recipes?

Ana said...

Help. I made the recipe exactly as directed (I didn't even sub cream for milk) and it really doesn't taste that great. The texture is ok, like pudding, but its pretty bland.. not something I'd eagerly dive into. Even boxed pudding mix would actually taste better.

Chef John said...

are you talking about the filling only? did you add salt? also it's not meant to be eaten alone, but with the sweet cake and lots of chocolate ganache

Ana said...

Yes, I did add the salt. I did the recipe exactly as written.
I was hoping to use the filling recipe with some farmers market fresh berries for a little dessert (although mainly I wanted to test the recipe to see if I could use it to fill cream puffs from a pate choux).
I guess I could try adding a little more salt. I was going to give it a night to meld the flavors and then see if I could jazz it up with a spritz of lemon juice or more sugar or something.

Chocolate Shavings said...

That's quite the luscious photo!

Chef John said...

there you go, this isn't really sweet enough to go with berries I think. Like I said, it's not super sweet here because of the other ingr. You can add sugar to it, but i wouldn't add too much more acid. good luck!

TasteStopping said...

I don't know if I've ever had a really good Boston Cream Pie. Which probably only means I have never made one from scratch, so all of my test samples have been store-bought, stale, cloyingly sweet specimens with suspect ganache! I'll have to try it now. Oh, and another tip for splitting one cake into two: unflavored dental floss. Wrap around cake, cross ends and pull them in opposite directions. Sometimes I find it easier than dragging a serrated knife through a moist cake. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration!

Best,
Casey
Editor
TasteStopping

Kristen said...

I just want to take a bite out of that photo! Yum!

Jamie Cooks It Up! said...

Loved the video...you have done a great job with it. Thanks for all of the tips. I'm going to give it a try!

jessica said...

This post happened to appear days before my father's birthday, so I went ahead and made it for him. It turned out he had been badgering my mom for a boston cream pie for years, so now I'm a hero. Mom never made it because she'd never had it herself. She loved it too. Thanks Chef John!

Danielle said...

Chef John,
I made this recipe yesterday
(and today) for Valentine's day, and though it was super good, however the cream never thickened. I watched the video a hundred times to see what I did wrong, and all I can think was that altitude might have had a factor, I live in Utah. But I let it boil, turned down the burner to low and slowly added the egg mixture... after a good ten minutes of it never thickening and my arm going tired, I added more corn starch, to no avail, then I thought I would let it hang out int he fridge over night (since i started it yesterday) but today it was the same. I put it on the cake anyway, and it tasted good, it just looked bad. Can you tell me what might have gone wrong?

Chef John said...

when you pour the egg/cornstarch mixture in it will thicken within 1 minute. No idea why yours didn't. I know if you continue to boil cornstarch it actually loses it thinking power, so that must be it. Did you measure right? Sure its Cornstarch?

danielle said...

Yeah, it was cornstarch... I'll try to make it again sometime, maybe it was just a weird string of chemistry... I'll let you know if it turns out right the second time. Thanks, chef john.

sadia said...

hey chef...this luks absolutely yummy...gonna try it out2day...but just wanted 2 ask u, can i use milk chocolate for the ganache instead of the bittersweet 1???coz i don like the taste of dark chocolate

Chef John said...

I've never used milk chocolate, but i hear you can. I know the recipe does change. You don't see a lot of recipes for it, but this one looks OK. No guarantees though!!

1 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
10 ounces milk chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Add butter to the cream and bring to a boil over low heat. Remove from heat and add chocolates. Shake pan to submerge chocolate and allow to stand 5 minutes. Whisk smooth, then cool to room temperature. Ganache will thicken to spreading consistency.

P.S. Is this the same Sadia that I think it is??

sadia said...

thanku sooo much chef....:)
yup im the same sadia who made ur delicious mac n cheese..woow u remember???..:D
iv tried out many other recipes of urs n evrything turned out to b superb...luv ur recipes...its jus amazing...

Gayle said...

Made this yesterday and it was awesome. BTW I live in Utah too and noticed that it took a little longer to thicken which I chalked up to the altitude but as soon as it bubbled it was done took about 4 minutes instead of 1.

Lisa said...

hi chef john. if i want to make this recipe (which i do!) should i used 6 or 7 TB or sugar?

Chef John said...

I used 5 then changed it to 6 after testing. So 6 is what i use. depends if u like sweet, some recipes use up to 8.

Davewinps said...

One of my favorite adaptations to a cake mix is chiffinoise-ing: separate the eggs, make the batter with the yolks, and whip the whites to firm peaks. Fold the whites into the batter and bake in a angel-food cake pan.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chef,
I saw this recipe yesterday and knew I had to try it, well went to get the things today and accidentally grabbed regular baking chocolate instead of the dark baking chocolate. Is it going to change the ganache if I use it or will it be okay? Also I was wondering if it would make a difference using light cream instead of heavy cream?

Chef John said...

should be ok, but I've never tried so youre on your own!

Anum said...

Hi Chef,
My chocolate thickened up fairly quickly after leaving it out to cool. Is there something I can do next time so that this does not happen.
Very delicious recipe btw. :)

Chef John said...

you just have to spread it on before it cools too much. You have to stay there and stir it and when it feels perfect pour it on. You can always very slowly soften over a very low double boiler or on very low in micro.

Anonymous said...

I just made this cake after watching the video over 20 times during the past month.

Bad news, I mucked it up! My cream was not thick enough, and I have no skills with chocolate so I messed up the drips.

Hopefully it will taste OK, but now I know how to do it better next time. Well, at least I tried...

Josh said...

Hey Chef John, this cake looks fantastic and I'm planning on making it in the near future. For the pastry cream does it have to be 1c of whole milk or can it be 2%?

Bonnie said...

Chef John, thank you so much for this recipe! I love Boston Cream Pie, but it's slightly hard to find for some reason. Anyway, to my surprise and great relief, everything turned out perfectly, except (ironically enough) the boxed cake mix! It boiled over in the pan and I had to throw it out, hahaha.

bananafoot said...

Hey, just wondering what kind of cream (%fat) that you used for the ganache...Im from Canada so im not sure what type of cream you are referring to. Thanks

Laurie Alves said...

Chef John, What a great recipe! Going to use the pastry cream as an addition to my Boston Cream Pie Cheesecake! Thanks again

Anonymous said...

hw mch milk shud i add ?coz i messed it up with that 1 cup thing.. so could some1 help me with converting that to milliliters.

Thank you .

Chef John said...

Just type "1 cup is ow many milliliters" next time and you'll have your answer in seconds. (it's 240ml btw)

Dave said...

Chef John - My cream filling never thickened even after 1 day in the fridge. Disappointed. I followed everything exactly too.

Tiffany said...

Chef John I am in the process of making one a heart shaped one of these right now for Valentine's Day! I think my hubby should love it (he's a huge fan of Boston Cream doughnuts) If the cream doesn't thicken like I have read in others comments, I have the fortunate circumstance of being Canadian and having Bird's Custard Powder readily available to me...it certainly wouldn't be as delicious as your pastry cream (I sneaked a little taste before I put it in to chill...yum!!) but it will be my last resort so Valentine's Day will be guaranteed to be a success :) I cannot wait to taste this all together!

Rachael PDX said...

my pastry cream did not thicken either...I even cooked it longer than 1 min. (more like 3) and I too followed the directions to a T. We seriously considered waiting on the cake and having pudding for dessert, but we went ahead and made the cake anyway. It is soooo good....but a soupy mess.

Chef John...how thick should the pastry cream be when we take it off the heat?

Thanks!!

Chef John said...

sorry, but i'd say take a look at the vid again. You'll see it's pretty thick even when hot. I have no idea! If measured properly, should thicken as seen in the clip.

Rachael PDX said...

I think my heat wasn't high enough (even though I did bring it to a boil) when I added my egg/sugar/cornstarch mix.

You were so right when you said "I know you are scared"!

Well, I guess I will just have to make it again! oh darn ;) But seriously, if anyone doubts their pastry cream is thick enough after cooling for a few hours. I say eat the pastry cream with some fresh berries and make another batch for the cake because that pastry cream is seriously delicious--even in pudding consistency.

Your rock Chef John!

Mike said...

I too had problems with the filling not setting up and so I tried again same results. There is something regional or ingredient based going on here.

Mike said...

Foolishly I forgot to mention that it was Sooo delicious anyway.

Chef John said...

Mike, i have no idea! The thickness you saw in the vid was based on the ingr. above. Did it look like mine when it was hot? I'm really not sure, regional would have nothing to do with it. Sounds like you need to cook longer maybe?

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,
It seems like a deliocous and easy recipe. I plan to make it for my Massachusetts state report. Thanks!

Fazila said...

I was wondering if the ganache is supposed to be sweet becuase if youre using bitter sweet chocolaten then cream wouldnt it be very unsweet ? And if i let the pastry cream cool overnight would tht be too much

Chef John said...

The ganache will be as sweet as the chocolate you use. You make pastry cream the day before no prob.

Melanie said...

Not to beat a dead horse, but I attempted this recipe determined to offer the 'secret' on the pastry cream. Tragically, mine failed also - twice. I somehow thinks it's in the eggy mixture. I mixed it to light and lemony yellow fluffiness, then turned to the cream concoction. When it was time for the eggy mixture to be combined, I turned to see a separated and less lemony, fluffy mix. Maybe we're not beating the eggs enough?

Anonymous said...

Although this recipe did taste good, I could not get the filling to set up very well and followed the recipe to a tee. Not sure what I did but I could not get the filling to stay together and it spilled over the edge. Oh well, just bothered me because it never got that firm.

lynn said...

I have made this several times, it's my son's favorite cake. 22 May he graduates from college and following graduation we will celebrate with friends at home. Instead of buying a cake, I am making this, since it's my son's favorite. And, yes, it is soooo easy and delicious!

SARAH MARTINEZ! said...

CHEF HELP! IF I MAKE THE PASTRY CREAM AND ITS IN THE FIRDGE FOR ABOUT 5 HRS AND DOESNT THICKEN UP, CAN I RE HEAT IT TO TRY THE PROCESS AGAIN?

Chef John said...

not really, as u may scramble the eggs.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef, I was just wondering would this recipe hold up if I cut one of those cake layers in half and used both sides instead of using two separate cakes or would it be too awesome?

Rose said...

Hi Chef John!! I love your pastry cream and mine too didn't thicken. I added 1 T. geletine and some extra corn starch and it thickened up a bit but I would like it thicker. Do you have a secret weapon for making it thicker?? Thank you from the bottom of my bowl (heart)!!

Jenna said...

A few things I can suggest to those having problems with pastry cream. 1.) Make sure all your ingredients are fresh/in code. 2.)Make sure your egg yolks are room temp. and 3.) Make sure your milk mixture is hot enough before you add the yolk mixture. Cornstarch needs heat to activate. Heat is your friend here so don't be timid! The worst that can happen is that you end up needing to strain it or take the blender to it!

Anonymous said...

Helppppppp! Chef John I made this for my husband last night boston cream pie. I follow the directions right and my pastry cream didnt thicken in the fridge but it thicken in the pan when i mix it. Do i put whipping cream or heavy whipping cream? Whats the differences? I left the pastry cream overnight and thought it would thicken! Please give me some advice! Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

You give it a little wiggle, a little jiggle and a little wiggle. About half jiggle half wiggle…eeeever so sloooowly glaze the top…keep drizzlin’, keep drizzlin’… Porn… Epic. Food. Porn!

disgusted said...

Hi chef John!!
I tried this today and it turned out amaaaaaaazing!! I followed the instructions and my pastry cream was as thick as in the vid.. :))The cream pie was so easy and delicious.. thank you chef :D

Saba said...

HEYYYYYYYYYYY CHEF JOHN ;)

love the recipe and the pastry cream tastes great!! one prob im having is that even though i kept the heat on low and cooked the mixture for about a minute it curdled up a bit and wasn't smooth even when i sieved it ;(....what did i do wrong?

Chef John said...

Sorry but no way to know for sure with watching you do it.

oma kaat said...

Hi, after reading those cries for help with the pastry cream: I have seen a friend make a sauce thickened with cornstarch,then taste it, and taste it again with the same spoon. After a couple of hours in the fridge the sauce had dissolved into watery soup. The enzymes from saliva will deteriorate the firmness. Sorry, I am Dutch, so my English is not so great.But I think you will get the idea. Otherwise: great food blog! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Ahh! Finally, the perfect recipe! This is so much more easier than all the others I have found!! Thanks so much, I can't wait to make it! Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving! :)

Heather B said...

Chef John,
I made the recipe and let it sit in the fridge for four hours but it still turned out a little too runny. I made two mistakes, first I forgot to add sugar so I ended up adding it right before I strained the cream while it was still hot. Second, I forgot to add a pinch of salt. Would these mistakes affect the consistency that much? Other than that it tasted great.

Anonymous said...

love the recipe:-) made it a few times. turned out great each time. thanks for sharing

Trying to cook in TAMPA said...

The filling came out soooo runny it was like a soup. I had let it sit overnight. When I poured thru the strainer it was like putting a pudding thru. Maybe I cooked to long?? I will throw it out and give it another try.

Annie said...

Hi Chef John ..

So gonna give this a go.

I was wondering...the 'cornstarch' of nowadays, sold in the supermarket , contains a lot of actual wheat flour..not pure corn starch. Could that be what is causing some people's attempts to fail?

Chef John said...

I'm not sure, but that could be!

Chef John said...

I'm not sure, but that could be!

Anonymous said...

I tried this recipe and it came out amazing! thanks Chef John you are the best!

Anonymous said...

Chef John,
I just found you last Thursday. I made your Boston Cream and it was so good. Some guests were having seconds. I'm a want to be cook and your recipe with video get the credit for my dessert. Thank you for your time and effort. ;-)

Anonymous said...

love this receipe.

Anonymous said...

Hello Chef John!

So I decided to give this scary recipe a whirl. I as well failed at the creamy filling.
one thought, is it a PACKED tbs of cornstarch? when I added and whipped up the eggs, my eggy mixture did not ribbon like yours did, until I added about 1/2 tbs more cornstarch. then while cooking it, it did not get as thick as your, and left to sit overnight, did not thicken up. i SLOWLY reheated (took over 10 min constantly wisking) and added more cornstarch and it finally thickened up. tasted great, but now its too thick and looks yellowish. I will try again, because I feel I am thisclose to getting it right. Thanks!

Kara said...

I'm making this cake as a surprise for my husband, so when he gets home he'll have some nice cake for his birthday.

Thanks Chef John, I always make your recipes for "fancy" dinners and special occasions. They always turn out amazing.

Chef John said...

Enjoy!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,

Help!!! with ganache

I have made your valentine's day chocolate mocha pot de cream, and I loved it. I'm going to make the ganache from this boston pie recipe for a chocolate cake and am wondering how come you call for only 1/2 cup of cream? Isn't it supposed to be 1 cup? Also, in your video, it seems like you are using more than 1/2 cup of cream.

Chef John said...

It's much firmer, so yes 1/2 is correct.

Anonymous said...

you're the BEST! I'm making a birthday cake right now and I want to use your ganache on top. Love.

Sherri

Anonymous said...

No idea if the cream not thickening is an altitude, cornstarch or other issue here in Utah, but after the same issue happening to me TWICE and being absolutely sure I was doing it all correct per the video, I got it to thicken up great by doing the following....and Chef John feel free to i-slap me if this is just a bad idea, but I added a little more cornstarch to the egg mixture, and turned UP the heat when I added the egg mixture till right at the simmer point, then quickly turned it down to low. (stirring the whole time) I did get a few extra lumps in it but they strained out nicely and it all thickened up just like in the vid.

Anonymous said...

Hello Chef John

I found your website today when I was searching for onion rings. I'll be trying you baked rings soon and the fried ones, too. I wonder if Australian supermarkets have Panko breadcrumbs. I have looked at a bunch of your recipes and they look good.

This Boston Cream Pie looks very tasty. I'm too lazy to cook 3 separate items for 1 dish. I can get sponge cake layers at my local supermarket and double thick custard. The custard probably won't be as good as yours but it won't fail on me. That leaves the ganache to make. I'll use the milk chocolate version you provided for Sadia. This will do very nicely at Sunday's afternoon tea. I'm sure everybody will love it.

Thanks for all the lovely recipes.

Gina

Leils14 said...

Hi Chef John :) How long do we freeze the pastry cream for?

Chef John said...

Not freeze, refrigerate. Until cold, a couple hours.

Me said...

Is it 6 or 7 spoons of suggar not clear if you changed the text or just added a comment?

Anna Berman said...

Me, Chef John is away on a well deserved vacation, so I am answering his questions meanwhile. The original recipe was written for 5 tablespoons of sugar and has been revised to 6 tablespoons. So 6 tablespoons it is. Enjoy!

Jaroslav Kouba said...

Hello Chef John.
This is very serious matter. Tonight I´m gonna try to bake this pure awesomeness for my mother´s birthday tomorrow. Do I have your approval to use golden sparkling topping to create big "heart of gold" on top of that beautiful ganache?
Love you channel,
thank you for what you´re doing.
Jaroslav

Chef John said...

Of course! :)