Pi Day Boston Cream Pie Pie
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Hi friends! If you’re reading this right now, please pause and wash your hands. For real. This blog post will still be here after the 60 seconds it will take you to get to a sink and back. Here are some COVID-19 resources!
Alright, now that that’s out of the way, how are we all doing? I’m nervous. I’m in a high risk group, and given the state of my lungs and immune system I really really do not want to get this virus. So I’m pretty much washing my hands and bathing constantly. I put all of my prescriptions on auto-refill and set everything for delivery so I don’t have to physically go to the pharmacy to get them. I have an N-95 mask that I wear when I do leave the house (if for no other reason than people are way more likely to stay at least six feet away from me if they see it). I’ve cancelled my physical therapy appointments for the next two months. On an upside, I’m already used to this amount of social isolation so...yay? I hope all of you are doing alright with all of this fear and uncertainty and isolation. Social media helps, right? Right now I’m on a telecon with my congressperson, which honestly makes me feel a little better. He’s got some experts on the call and is really paying attention and working hard to keep us safe here in San Diego. I’m planning on baking as many things as possible in the coming months, and to write extra clever blog posts to go with them (apologies in advance because I will in no way be more clever than usual, and my usual amount of cleverness is questionable). If you follow along and make any of the recipes, please tell me about them! Even better, show me! Take some photos and tag me on instagram! It’ll be fun!
And now- pie! Pi Day was this week! Pi Day is one of my favorite days of the year. 1. It allows me to dazzle my friends and family by reciting pi to 20 digits (and by dazzle, I mean they very politely listen and validate my feelings...my feelings are that still knowing pi to that many places is cool and fun and you cannot convince me otherwise), and 2. It’s an excuse for pie.
I am a big fan of pie. I wasn’t always! It’s a fairly recent development, but I’m all in. So I was thinking about what to bake for Pi Day and what I decided was...cake. Yes, cake. Boston Cream Pie is actually a cake (called pie because it was initially made in pie pans for what I’m sure are very good and interesting reasons, but I’m on information overload and cannot possible google one more thing right now I’M SORRY). But I figured, you know, why not! This is a custard pie with a cookie crust and a nice soft layer of ganache on top. One hung that I especially enjoy about this recipe is that all of the components can be made separately and then assembled after you’ve napped. You can also use any of the components individually for other things (you also don’t have to include all of them in this pie; you can use a store bought crust if you want, or pour chocolate sauce over each slice as its served- totally up to you).
But! Before we go any further, we have to have a talk. It’s about this crust. Sigh. Instead of a graham cracker crust, I decided to use Girl Scout cookies. Before you get on me about wasting delicious Girl Scout cookies on a pie crust, hear me out. These cookies. These ones in particular. They are not good. I KNOW. They’re the only gluten free option and I hate them. They taste and feel like sand. It’s not enough that I can’t have Girl Scout cookies anymore. Instead, I have these HORRIBLE IMPOSTERS that I’m supposed to be grateful for. Well, I refuse. You tried, Girl Scouts of America. You failed. Please stop forcing these children to peddle your lies. The only positive I see in these cookies is that they are fun and easy to smash into dust for pie crust formation.
You can use a food processor, sure. But you can also put the DevilCookies in a plastic baggie and crush them with a rolling pin. Or the bottom of a pan. Or your bare hands, as if you were crushing the bones of your enemies. That’s what I did. Obviously.
What I learned is that you cannot just sub them into a graham cracker crust recipe. Of course not, that would interfere with their plot of deception. The cookies themselves have a whole lot of butter, which means you don’t have to use nearly as much butter as you ordinarily would. I used way, way too much butter. So much that I almost threw the whole pie out. More on that later. Other than the butter mishap, the dough came together quickly and easily. You just mix everything together and press it into a pie pan, and then bake it for about 10 minutes. You don’t even have to bake it, honestly. If you’re making a no-bake pie, this is a great crust option. The cookies are way better in non-cookie form, I promise.
This custard is one of my favorite things. texturally, it’s somewhere between a thick custard and a pastry cream. Which is honestly something I could eat with a spoon. It’s good chilled, it’s good baked, and it’s good hot. It’s also very low stress as far as custards go.
You start by whisking up your egg yolks with about half of the sugar (separate your yolks and whites and then hold onto the whites to use later). I’d highly recommend doing this with a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or with an electric hand mixer. Or, if you’re extremely fortunate, you can ask the handsome man with tattoo sleeves who just happens to be in your kitchen to do it for you.
Whisk them until they’re a paler yellow (there is a lot or room for error here, seriously don’t worry about the exact color). Then heat up the cream, milk, cornstarch, salt, and the other half of the sugar on the stove. Let it come to a simmer and then take it off of the heat and let it sit for a minute or two. Next, you temper the eggs. That means you take a little bit of the milk mixture and slowly pour it into the egg mixture while whisking. What that does, is lets the eggs heat up to a temperature that’s closer to the milk mixture. Otherwise, the eggs would cook as soon as they hit the milk. Gross.
So after you’ve tempered the eggs, it’s safe to pour them into the milk. Turn the heat back on and bring the whole thing to a simmer, stirring continuously. Let it (while writing this I got notification that Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued a “mandatory stay at home” order; not sure if it’s an order or an Order but I guess we’ll find out) simmer for 2-ish minutes while whisking. Then remove it from the heat again and stir in the butter and vanilla. At this point, you can put it in a bowl to chill (with plastic wrap touching the surface) or put it directly into the pie crust to bake. You might have extra (oh darn), in which case you can store it in the fridge until you want some ten minutes later because it’s just that good.
Pour the custard into the pre-baked crust and bake on 350 for...awhile? This is where things got a little dicey.
Because of the butter content, the pie just wasn’t cooperating. So much butter was seeping into the custard that it pooled on top and became a gross meatly mess. I spent a very long time sticking paper towels into it to soak up the butter, but it was slow going. The custard appeared to have curdled and I was ready to toss the whole thing and call it a loss. Thankfully, I then remembered that there was already butter in the custard, so I thought maybe if I just stirred the remaining butter in and hoped for the best, everything would be fine. And it was! After putting it back in the oven, it set up and calmed down. It never got a nicely browned top, but it the top just gets covered in chocolate anyway. The crust definitely ended up overdone but the next day, after it soaked up a bit of the custard, it was excellent.
Once it’s out of the oven and has cooled for a few minutes, you can pour on that silky, silky ganache. Combine heavy cream, vanilla, and milk chocolate in a measuring cup and microwave it in 30 second increments, stirring each time. You want it to end up somewhere between water and pudding, consistency-wise. It needs to be pourable, but not too thin. It should set up to be a semi-solid.
You don’t want the snap you get with tempered chocolate (in candy bars), but you also don’t want it to remain fully liquid so that it pours off the top when you cut into it. You can add more cream or chocolate as needed to get the right ratio.
Chill. I mean, chill the pie. Chill yourself too if necessary, but mostly the pie. It should be refrigerated for a few hours in order to let each of the layers bond to each other.
And then eat it! A pie dress isn’t mandatory, I guess, but it does make the whole endeavor more exciting...
For the Crust:
🥄; makes 1 crust
2 boxes Toffee-Tastic gluten free Girl Scout cookies
1/4 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Crush cookies into crumbs.
3. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.
4. Press into an ungreased pie pan.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
For the Custard:
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whip the egg yolks with half of the sugar until it turns a paler shade of yellow.
3. Combine the cream, milk, cornstarch, salt, and the rest of the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Then remove the mixture form heat and let sit for a couple of minutes.
4. Temper the eggs- while whisking, pour some of the milk mixture into the egg mixture, increasing the temperature without cooking the eggs. Then pour the eggs into the rest of the milk.
5. Turn the heat back on and bring it to a simmer, whisking continuously.
6. Let it simmer for about two minutes, still whisking continuously.
7. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.
8. Pour custard into pie crust.
9. Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the top has browned slightly.
10. Cool slightly before adding the ganache, then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
9. Pour custard into a bowl or jar and cover with plastic wrap that is touching the surface of the custard.
10. Refrigerate a few hours and use as needed.
For the Ganache:
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1. Put all ingredients in a measuring cup.
2. Heat in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring after each.
3. Add more cream or chocolate as needed.
4. Pour over pie or refrigerate until use.