Bourbon Boston Cream Pie and Macarons

14 May

Bourbon Boston Cream PieWhen cooking at school (I take classes at ISMM), everything usually turns out pretty damn good. The teacher is there to help you, you’ve got all the right equipment and ingredients, the oven thermometer is accurate, a big plus is pastry making. So when we made chocolate macarons in class, I was convinced they were the easiest things in the world! Fast forward a few weeks to a frustrated cook peeling wax paper off the back of cracked and sunken macarons…I can now tell you it’s pretty fucking hard.

But really, why is it so hard to get the macarons perfect? Why do we even need it to be perfect? Leave it to the French to create a complicated, impossible recipe that only a select few can make when the wind is blowing at just the right speed. Reminds me of the fact that there is only one man in all of France, in all of the world (!) who can put an apostille on your document to make it official…sorry, expat ranting.

But in the face of disaster, there is always hope! My hope was a large bowl of bourbon-spiked ganache…which should have been the filling for my macarons, but instead turned out to be the perfect icing on my cake….or rather, Boston cream pie.

For me, the Boston cream pie is a total diner pie, sitting on some shelf in a rotating refrigerator, slowing defrosting. But, damn, even that frozen cake had created some great memories for me. Boston cream pie is the perfect pie to inhale. The soft sponge cake and layers of pastry cream all covered in a semi-sweet chocolate glaze….mmmm…it just goes down so easy.

Let me warn you, this ain’t no walk-in-the-park cake. It’s complicated. But it’s damn worth it.

Bourbon Boston Cream Pie

(adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

Yield: 8 to 10


For the pastry cream:
2 cups half-and-half
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
Pinch table salt
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into four pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
For the glaze:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
few splashes of bourbon

For the pastry cream:
Heat half-and-half in medium saucepan over medium heat until just simmering.  Meanwhile, whisk yolks, sugar, and salt in medium bowl until smooth.  Add flour to yolk mixture and whisk until incorporated.  Remove half-and-half and, whisking constantly, slowly add 1/2 cup to yolk mixture to temper.  Whisking constantly, return tempered yolk mixture to half-and-half in saucepan.

Return saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens slightly, about 1 minute.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, whisking constantly, 8 minutes.

Increase heat to medium and cook, whisking vigorously, until bubbles burst on surface, 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove saucepan from heat; whisk in butter and vanilla until butter is melted and incorporated.  Strain pastry cream through fine-mesh strainer set over medium bowl.  Press lightly greased parchment paper directly on surface and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

For the cake:
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly grease two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment.  Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl.  Heat milk and butter in small saucepan over low heat until butter is melted.  Remove from heat, add vanilla, and cover to keep warm.

In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip eggs and sugar at high speed until light and airy, about 5 minutes.  Remove mixer bowl from stand.  Add hot milk mixture and whisk by hand until incorporated.  Add dry ingredients and whisk until incorporated.

Working quickly, divide batter evenly between prepared pans.  Bake until tops are light brown and toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 20 to 22 minutes.

Transfer cakes to wire rack and cool completely in pan, about 2 hours.  Run small plastic knife around edge of pans, then invert cakes onto wire rack.  Carefully remove parchment, then reinvert cakes.

To assemble:
Place one cake round on large plate.  Whisk pastry cream briefly, then spoon onto center of cake.  Using offset spatula, spread evenly to cake edge.  Place second layer on pastry cream, bottom side up, making sure layers line up properly.  Press lightly on top of cake to level.  Refrigerate cake while preparing glaze.

For the glaze:
Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat and add chocolate.  Whisk gently until smooth, 30 seconds.  Let stand, whisking occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Whisk in a few splashes of Bourbon.

Pour glaze onto center of cake.  Use offset spatula to spread glaze to edge of cake, letting excess drip decoratively down sides.  Chill finished cake 3 hours before slicing.  Cake may be made up to 24 hours before serving.

One Response to “Bourbon Boston Cream Pie and Macarons”

  1. Pamela Foye May 15, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    Sounds like a lot of work, but I’m inspired.

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