Boston Cream Cakes Recipe

An sweet Italian-inspired dessert from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. "Boston cream cakes do not sound Italian, but this recipe was given to me by Italians. At Scialo Brothers Bakery in Rhode Island, we found trays upon trays of little chocolate-covered spheres. I thought they were some version of a cassata (a Sicilian dome-like cake stuffed with ricotta cream), but instead they were individual Boston cream pies. The French chef Sanzian, who worked at the Parker House Hotel (now the Omni Parker House) in Boston is credited with having invented the Boston cream pie. Italian or not, these were delicious."


Pastry Cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
Pinch kosher salt
2 cups milk
2 large eggs

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp orange zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2/3 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp dark rum
Pinch kosher salt
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped


Pastry Cream

Step 1: Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium pot. While whisking, pour in the milk. Set the pot over medium-low heat, and heat the mixture to just below boiling.

Step 2: Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Remove the pot from heat, and pour the milk slowly into the eggs, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, and stir constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens and just begins to simmer.

Step 3: Immediately scrape the mixture into a clean bowl. Let it cool slightly, then cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or overnight, until chilled and thickened.


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a twelve-unit cupcake pan with paper liners.

Step 2: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt onto a piece of parchment.

Step 3: Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Step 4: Crack in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions. Stir in the olive oil, vanilla, and zest. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes, to lighten and smooth the batter.

Step 5: Mix in the flour in three additions on low speed, 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.

Step 6: Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.


Step 1: Combine the corn syrup, rum, salt and 2 tbsp water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Step 2: Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and pour the syrup over the chocolate. 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.

To assemble the cakes: Remove the cupcake liners from the cakes. Split the cakes at the base of the cap with a serrated knife. Invert one cake, and place the cake cap on a plate, cut side up. Spoon the pastry cream onto the cake top, then top with inverted cake bottom, like an upside-down mushroom. Spoon the hot chocolate glaze onto the base facing you, letting the glaze run down the sides of the cake, spooning on more if necessary. Repeat with the remaining filled cakes.

Try another recipe from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.

Reprinted with permission from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italy in America (2011 Knopf).