Boston cream cakes do not sound Italian, but this recipe was given to me by Italians. At Scialo Brothers Bakery the day we arrived we found Patty di Genso who is the second generation running the bakery, daughter of the original owner. They still have the old brick ovens that they line up for their bread and cakes. The day we arrived there were trays upon trays of little chocolate covered spheres. I thought they were some version of a cassata, but instead they were individual Boston cream pies. French chef Sanzian, who worked at the Parker House Hotel (now the Omni Parker Hotel) in Boston is credited with having invented Boston cream pie. Italian or not they were delicious.
- For the pastry cream:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- Pinch kosher salt
- 2 cups milk
- 2 large eggs
- For the cakes:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons softened butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- For the glaze:
- 2/3 cup light corn syrup
- 2 tablespoons dark rum
- Pinch kosher salt
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1. Make the pastry cream: In a medium pot, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. While whisking, pour in the milk. Set pot over medium-low heat and heat mixture to just below boiling. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Pour the milk slowly into the eggs, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Pour the mixture back in the saucepan. Stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens and just begins to simmer. Immediately scrape the mixture into a clean bowl. Let cool slightly, then cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, until chilled and thickened.
2. Make the cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-space cupcake pan with paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt onto a piece of parchment. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well between additions. Mix in the olive oil, vanilla and zest. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes to lighten and smooth the batter. On low speed, mix in the flour in 3 additions, alternating with the orange juice, beginning and ending with the flour. Once everything has been added, beat the batter on high speed for about 20 seconds.
3. Divide the batter evenly in the cupcake liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
4. Make the glaze: In a small pot, combine the corn syrup, rum, salt and 2 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil, simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Put the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Pour the syrup over the chocolate and stir until the glaze is smooth and shiny and all of the chocolate is melted. Let cool until thickened and just warm to the touch.
5. To assemble the cakes: Remove cupcake liners from the cakes. With a serrated knife, split the cakes at the base of the muffin top. To serve, place the muffin top on a plate, top with some of the pastry cream, then the cupcake base. Drizzle with the chocolate glaze, letting it run down the sides of the cake. Repeat with remaining cakes, pastry cream and glaze.