This is a Valentine’s Day post, but I’m going to take it back a few weeks to the NFL playoffs. Romantic, I know.
Before I knew I’d be spending Super Bowl Sunday on a plane, Joe and I started planning for our gameday treat tradition during the playoffs. While the Seahawks were duking it out with the Packers, Garlic Fries were head-to-head with Beer Cheese Soup. When the Patriots were killing Indianapolis in Deflategate, Boston Cream Pie was earning its title over Fried Pork Sandwiches. Clearly I was elated for that outcome. It was our own Food Feud!
And then my trip overlapped the big event and our showdown of Garlic Fries and Boston Cream Pie never became a reality.
But that dessert lingered in both of our minds and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, and with the Patriots win and all, we thought we’d better just go ahead and make it. It’s my version of taking one for the (winning) team.
My mom made me a Boston Cream Pie…which, for the record, is a cake…for my 15th birthday. Somewhere in Oklahoma I have a photo of me holding the cake plate in my hands with a big smile on my face, shadowed by flickering candles, and my now-brother-in-law smiling over my shoulder.
I remember thinking…”wow, this looks like a lot more work than our normal birthday cakes!” I loved the oozing chocolate and creamy filling. I can vividly remember how content I felt and how delicious it was.
It would be the last time I would eat a slice…until now.
File this under “worth the wait.”
When planning to make the cake I looked no further than Joanne Chang, my Boston-based baking guru, who is responsible for Joe’s favorite cake. When I saw that her recipe, while gorgeous, was three pages long and called for a pan I didn’t own, I then looked to the next best thing: the boys of Baked. (They’ve also never let me down when it comes to cakes.)
Their version looked strikingly similar, but bakes up in regular pans I already had on hand. So I paired their cake with Joanne’s pastry cream and ganache and figured it was the best of all the worlds.
Boston Cream Pie consists of a bouncy sponge cake–a lighter, m-word crumb that pairs beautifully with the dense, rich pastry cream filling and chocolate topping.
Is it weird that I want to keep typing “creme” instead of “cream?” That’s how fancy this cake makes me feel.
Boston Creme Pie.
Once those layers cool completely you have two options: You can slice each layer in half, creating a towering four-layer cake (which I would recommend doubling the cream filling for), or you can leave them whole. Since the original recipe called for 8-inch cake pans and I used 9-inch, I decided to leave them whole. So many options…all of them delicious.
Now that I know how easy pastry cream is to make, I feel like I’ve reached a danger zone. I could easily have eaten the entire chilled bowl. It was like the most glorious of vanilla puddings.
You want that ooze factor. This cake is anything but ooze-free.
Time to prep for what will send it over the edge.
Oh, hello, semisweet chocolate. Always nice to see you.
You know what’s better than baking a cake for your Valentine? Having your Valentine in the kitchen to help you.
Magical, isn’t it?
You don’t want to pour the ganache over the entire cake. Pour directly in the center very slowly and then use a butter knife to gently coax it to the edges. Gravity (and the weight of that luxurious chocolate and cream) will do the rest.
I put it in the fridge for a
hot cold minute to let the chocolate set while we ate dinner. You want it to be firm, but don’t leave it in too long uncovered or the sponge cake will start to dry out. (Eventually you’ll want to store all leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge…that is, if you don’t consume it all in one sitting like I wanted to do.)
I can officially say that 18 years after that original bite, this cake is just as wonderful as I remember.
Perfect for Super Bowl wins. Perfect for birthdays. Perfect for Valentine’s Day. Perfect for anyone you love.
Go forth and get your creme on! (I’ll be back later this weekend with the rest of our Valentine’s Day meal.)
Boston Cream Pie
1 3/4 c. cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 c. whole milk
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
Pastry Cream (double if making four-layer version):
1 1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cake flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
1/2 c. heavy cream
Pastry Cream (make a day in advance of cake):
In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high heat until small bubbles form along the sides of the pan. While the milk is heating, stir together the sugar, flour and salt in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture. It will be thick and pasty.
Remove the milk from the heat and slowly add to the egg-mixture using a half-cup measuring scoop, whisking constantly. When all of the milk is incorporated, return the contents to the saucepan and heat over medium heat. Whisk continuously and vigorously for about 3 minutes, or until it thickens and comes to a boil. (Once it thickens, stop whisking every few seconds to see if it has come to a boil. As soon as you see bubbles, whisk for 10 seconds and then immediately remove the pan from the heat.)
Pour, push and scrape the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the vanilla and then place plastic wrap against its entire surface. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325-degrees. Butter two 8- or 9-inch cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the pans with flour and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together the butter and milk until the butter is just melted. Do not overheat. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
Set aside. Set aside. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla on medium speed until the mixture is pale and has tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and sprinkle a third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture. Gently fold the two together, using a rubber spatula. Add the rest of the flour mixture and fold again.
Add the warm milk mixture (if it cooled, reheat slightly) to the batter and gently fold until just incorporated.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.
Once cool, place on cake plate or stand and spread pastry creme between layers. (If slicing layers, it’s easier to cut when the layers are slightly frozen.)
Place the chocolate in a large measuring glass (I used a 4-cup glass). In a small saucepan, heat the cream over high heat until small bubbles form along the sides of the pan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Slowly whisk the chocolate and cream together until mixture is completely smooth.
Let ganache cool to room temperature. When ready to use, pour slowly on center of top cake layer and use a butter knife to gently coax it to the edges, covering the entire top and letting it drip down sides.