Boston Cream Pie

A disturbingly large portion of the population has never eaten Boston Cream Pie.

It's very sad, because this is the sort of dessert that could prevent nuclear war. It make friends. It promotes peace. It illicits lots of contented sighing and belly rubbing and groans of pleasure and faces of awe. At least, it does at my house. If you don't believe me see picture below:

Yes. It's that good.

For those who don't know what a Boston Cream Pie is, allow me to explain.
It's a cross between a cake and a pie. Sort of. (Why it's called a Pie when it's technically a Cake is one of the great unsolved mysteries of life.) Two light cake layers are sandwiched with a rich eggy custard, over which a luscious chocolate ganache is poured. It's essentially a massive eclair. Or as my dad likes to call it, Eclair Cake.

This recipe is a bit fussy, best saved for a rainy day or Sunday afternoon. This cake/pie is essentially three different recipes, it's not tricky, but the assembly takes time. Also, this cake dirties lots of pan. And you must be very, very careful not to overmix the batter once the flour is added, other wise the cake will be rubbery and tough. But I doubt that that will deter even the most perfection-demanding eaters from consuming vast quantities of this so-worth-the-trouble massive morsel of delight.

Boston Cream Pie
from Martha Stewart's Comfort Foods

For Hot-Milk Sponge Cake:

unsalted butter for cake pan
1 cup sifted cake flour (not self rising, plus more for pan)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean, split, or 1 generous teaspoon vanilla extract

To Make the Cake:
1. Heat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9x2 inch round cake pan. Line with parchment (if you're anal), set aside.
2. Sift together the cake flour and the salt. Sift again, two more times; set aside. IN the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, ix the eggs and sugar until well combined. Place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water; whisk until the mixture is warm, about 110 F, and the sugar is dissolved, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat; plave bowl on mixer. Whisk the egg mixture on high speed until thicked and pale, about 6 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla bean or extract. Place over medium heat until hot, being careful not to let boil. Remove and discard vanilla bean, if using. With egg mixture beating, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream. Turn off mixer. Transfer to a medium bowl; fold in the flour mixture. Pour into prepared pan.
4. Bake until the cake is golden brown and sprinks back when gently pressed, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.

For the Custard-Cream Filling:
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
6 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

To Make the Filling:
1. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in the milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks while whisking. Return mixture to saucpan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture beings to bubble, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in the vanilla extract.
3. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap against the filling to prevent a skin from forming; chill in refrigerator until firm, at least 1 hour.

4 ounces excellent quality semisweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup heavy cream

To Make the Glaze and Assemble the Cake:
1. Split the cake into two layers, by slicing through the cake very gently with a long serrated knife. Spread the bottom half with chilled filling. Place in the refrigerator to set, about 30 minutes. Wrap the remaining half of cake with plastic wrap; set aside.
2. In a medium size heat proof bowl, or top of double boiler, set over a pot of gently simmering water, combine the chocolate and the heavy cream. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside to cool for 10 minutes. A bit whisking helps chocolate and cream combine more easily.
3. Remove cake from refridgerator; top with the reserved cake layer. Transfer cake to a serving plate; pour the chocolate glaze over the top. Allow to set 20 minutes before serving.