We’ve finally finished unpacking all of the boxes, putting everything into its proper place and assembling all of the furniture we bought thinking we could totally build everything ourselves. Why did we think this was such a great idea? It isn’t so much all of the difficult instructions made entirely out of hard to decipher pictures that gets us, but more so all of the manual twisting and turning of the screwdriver. We really should invest in a power drill. Thankfully, it’s all taken care of now with only a minor amount of cursing under our breath (not a single one from me, mind you).
We’re currently in that state of not wanting to leave our home because it’s just so nice, and it still seems so unreal to us. Like we’re vacationing in someone else’s house. Do you know the feeling? I’m also currently in the state of making sure nothing is out of place. I’m positive I’ve started to get on Julian’s nerves walking around dusting everything, vacuuming, mopping and sweeping all the time. I can’t help it, I’m a perfectionist. Sue me.
This is officially the first post I’ve shot in the new place and I have to say that it’s been a fun and exciting adventure, to say the least. It has been a little weird, though, mostly because I have to get accustomed to everything all over again. It’s funny how one can get so comfortable somewhere and feel so out of place the second you find yourself somewhere else. I was moving so slowly making and shooting this, for some reason, trying to adjust to my new surroundings, familiarizing myself with the kitchen and forgetting where exactly I put everything away. “Where did that spoon go?” “What cupboard did I shove that bowl in?” “Is it time for a drink, yet?” The answer to which is always, YESSSSSS! It’s always time for a drink…and chocolate. Luckily for us, this here post happens to involve dark chocolate and pistachios. Two of my favorite things.
I know this recipe might seem daunting at first and you’re right, it’s just a tad bit intimidating…but believe you me, you can do it! I wouldn’t post anything that wasn’t achievable. And when you think about it, it’s really not all that complicated. Sure there are a few extra steps here and there, but in the long run, it’s totally worth it. Chocolate and pistachio are always worth it.
We’re going to start by making the pastry cream, which is just fancy talk for the filling. Place the sugar, salt, cornstarch and vanilla bean seeds (the pods too for extra flavor) in a pot. Whisk together and then slowly stream in the milk, while continuing to whisk.
**Tip: To remove the seeds from the vanilla bean, split it in half, lengthwise. Using the edge of a pairing knife, scrape out all of the seeds. Add the seeds to the milk mixture.**
(Special thanks to Julian for being my hand model, milk pourer extraordinaire). He should quite his day job already and spend all his time at home pouring things into pots and bowls for me.
Throw in the egg yolks and whisk rapidly.
Continue to whisk until the custard has come to a boil and has thickened, about 10 minutes.
Once the mixture has thickened, remove from the heat (discard the vanilla bean pods), and add the cold butter and vanilla extract. Whisk once again.
The last thing we’re going to add to the pastry cream is the pistachio.
**Note: In order to achieve this awesome pistachio paste, I added a bunch of shelled pistachios (about a cup and a half) into a food processor, you can also use a blender, with a splash of water. Then I puréed it until it formed a thick paste.**
Add half of the pistachio paste to the pastry cream and whisk until completely incorporated.
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic wrap to actually sit on top of the custard, directly.
**Tip: Placing the plastic wrap directly onto the pastry cream will prevent it from forming a skin. No one wants that. That sounds gross, right? Gross and creepy.**
Place in the fridge and allow it to chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Let’s now turn our attention to the cake batter itself. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition.
Add in the vanilla extract and the remaining half of that pistachio paste we made earlier.
Cream once more, until evenly combined. The next thing to add, are the dry ingredients along with the buttermilk (aka wet ingredients).
**Tip: Start and end with the dry ingredients, alternating between the two. So, dry, mix, wet, mix, dry, mix, wet, mix, dry, mix. This will allow for a perfect crumb on your cake.**
After each addition, only mix until just combined. You don’t want to run the risk of over-mixing. Then you’ll end up with dry, tough cake that could double as a lethal weapon. Hey, at least you’ll be safe.
Pour the batter into a 9-inch square baking pan that has been greased and floured.
**Tip: Lightly drop the pan a few times, on the counter, to release any air bubbles lodged in between the batter and pan. Let out all that frustration.**
Bake in a preheated 350ºF oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. It should also be lightly golden brown all over, as cakes usually do.
Remove from the oven and then allow to cool down for about 15 minutes. Them, invert the cake from the pan and place it on a wire rack to cool down completely. Cut into quarters.
We’ve arrived at the best part now, we can finally make the dark chocolate topping. Let’s all rejoice.
Place the dark chocolate pieces in a small heat-proof bowl. Pour the hot cream over the top and allow to just sit there for a few minutes. Don’t do anything to it. Don’t stir it. Don’t even look at it (turn away!) Just let it do it’s thing. It’ll be the hardest part of this recipe, resisting the urge, but I have faith in you. I know you can do it. Don’t let me down.
After about 5 minutes, you can stir until the chocolate has fully melted and is glossy.
Using a large circle cookie cutter, about 4-inches in diameter, cut out each square of cake so you end up with 4 large circles.
**Note: So as to not waste the cake scraps, you can go right ahead and nibble on those while we assemble the cake. They’re the ultimate snack.**
Slice each cake circle in half getting two thin layers out of each. Spoon a bit of the chilled pistachio pastry cream onto the bottom part of each cake slice (so on four of them). That was confusing. I apologize. Look! A picture.
Place the top slices of cake on each to sandwich them together. Chill the cakes in the freezer for about 5 to 10 minutes to firm up the cakes and prevent them from slipping and sliding.
Top each cake with the chocolate glaze, making sure to spread it out evenly to the sides. If it drips down the sides a bit, that’s okay.
Then, lastly, sprinkle the center liberally with chopped pistachios.
You can serve them right away, or pop them into the fridge for a bit to allow the chocolate to set. Or if you’re saving them for later (good luck), like for a party or something, store them in the refrigerator until ready to serve. How anyone can resist them for that long, though, is beyond me.
I actually have to confess that the very first time I had Boston Cream Pie, was barely last year. Clearly I wasn’t living my life properly and that’s okay because at least I finally did try it. That has to count for something. It was everything I had hoped for (and then some). And yet I realized that I couldn’t live without it. So here we are. Deep in a Boston cream pie coma.
I’m a really big fan of pistachios. They’re my second favorite nut, the first being cashews which I think I could seriously eat all day everyday of my life. But this isn’t about cashews, no. This is about pistachios. You know who else really loves pistachios, probably more than I do? Chocolate. That’s right, chocolate.
Chocolate and pistachios are like two peas in a pod. They were meant for each other. Those two flavors just seem to enhance one another, ya know? It’s not even rocket science. Pistachios should only be invited to the party if chocolate is also making an appearance. These mini pistachio Boston cream pies, kinda prove just that.
Like I said earlier, this recipe might seem a little daunting. And I know that there are quite a few steps that maybe, perhaps stop you from thinking you can attempt it. Now, I’m not saying it’s the easiest recipe ever, or that you should totally make it all the time, but it’s a great dessert for when you’re having company over. If you’re throwing a dinner party and want to impress. Or if you want to make something ultra super special for that person you’re crazy about. They would totally appreciate it. Plus, they’re super cute! Mini cakes are just the bee’s knees. You can quote me on that. Enjoy!
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1½ cups shelled pistachios
- ⅔ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- pinch of salt
- 1 vanilla bean
- 3 large egg yolks
- ¾ cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and diced
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup chopped pistachios
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan, and set aside. Throw the 1½ cups shelled pistachios into a food processor or blender, with a splash of water. Purée until it forms a thick paste, set aside.
- Make the cake: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set to the side. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract and half of the pistachio paste. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle, comes out clean. Let cool for about 15 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack and cooling down completely.
- To make the pastry cream: Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and vanilla seeds (scraped from the vanilla bean) in a small sauce pot. Stir in the milk and egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it has thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the butter, vanilla and remaining half of pistachio paste. Stir until well incorporated. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the cream directly. Chill in the fridge until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
- To make the glaze: Bring the cream to a simmer in a small pot. Place the chocolate in a small bowl and pour in the hot cream. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes without stirring. Stir until the chocolate has fully melted and is glossy.
- To assemble the cakes, cut the cooled cake into quarters (four even squares). Using a 4 inch round cookie cutter, cut each cake square into a circle. Eat the scraps. That's important. Cut each circle in half so you end up with two thin layers for each. Spread half of the circles with the chilled pistachio pastry cream, top with the remaining cake layers. Place in the freezer and allow to chill for about 5 minutes to speed up the firming process. Spread the melted chocolate on top of each and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Store in the fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy!
- Yields: 4 mini cakes