I have never been much of a cake-eater, but if there is a Boston cream pie somewhere close by, you had better believe I am going to seek it out. Layers of light, buttery sponge cake sandwiched together with a generous slathering of pastry cream then topped with an equally generous layer of chocolate ganache glaze- there is nothing not to love. It’s hard to imagine a time of year when this particular dessert would ever be out of place, but since we are firmly footed in Autumn, I thought I might add a little seasonal flare, with chestnuts, rum, and milk chocolate. Not to worry- no pumpkin spice was used in the making of this dessert.

 

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Autumnal Boston Cream Pie

Sponge Cake (adapted from Tish Boyle’s The Cake Book:

 

1 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted

1¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

½ cup whole milk

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 Large eggs

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch cinnamon

 

Preheat oven to 350F.

Sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt twice. Combine milk and butter over medium heat just until butter is melted.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with a whisk attachment until well combined and foamy. Gradually add in sugar and vanilla extract and continue

beating at high speed for 6 mins until pale and tripled in volume.

Sift one-third of flour mixture over egg foam and gently fold it with a rubber spatula. Repeat with remaining flour mixture in 2 more additions.

Heat up milk mixture to just under a boil. Add it all at once to the egg mixture and gently fold it in to combine.

Immediately pour the batter into a 9″ cake pan lined with parchment paper.

Bake the cake for 20 to 25 mins , or until it springs back when touched and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool

the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then gently flip it onto a cooling rack to cool completely

 

 

Chestnut Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk

2/3 cup sugar

4 Tbsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

Pinch salt

2 large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 tsp vanilla extract

5 oz unsweetened chestnut puree *

 

Heat the milk and 1/3 cup of sugar  to a scald in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot.

Whisk the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, cornstarch, flour, salt, eggs and egg yolks in a medium-sized bowl until well-combine and no lumps remain.

Gradually add the milk mixture to the eggs and whisk vigorously. Return to the pot and bring to a boil, whisking continuously until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Allow to boil gently for one minute to cook the starch completely. Stir in the vanilla.

Add a small amount of the finished pastry cream to the chestnut puree and whisk until smooth. Add to the remaining pastry cream and stir until completely combined.

Cover with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly on the pastry cream and allow to cool completely before using.

* If the puree is dry and/or crumbles, soften it with a paddle attachment on the lowest speed of your electric mixer. Add a tablespoon of milk if       it remains dry.

Cinnamon-Rum Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 cup dark rum

Bring the sugar, water, and cinnamon to a boil in a small pot. Allow the cinnamon to steep in the syrup for 30 minutes. Once cooled, remove the cinnamon stick and stir in the rum.

 

Milk Chocolate Glaze

12 ounces good quality milk chocolate, finely chopped

1/4 cup heavy cream

Small pinch of salt

 

Place the chocolate and salt in a small bowl. Bring the cream to just below boiling. Pour evenly onto the chocolate and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Allow to cool and thicken to a pourable but not too watery consistency.

 

Assembly:

 

Split the cake into two layers. Brush with the simple syrup. Spread the pastry cream onto the first layer, being careful not to spread it past the edge of the cake. place the top layer of cake onto the pastry cream. Gently flatten the cake so that it adheres. brush a little simple syrup onto the top. Allow the cake to sit for a few minutes to absorb the syrup. Pour the Glaze onto the cake, starting in the center and moving outward. Allow the cake to chill for 30 minutes before serving.

At the risk of being a teeny bit annoying, I’m just going to let it out: pumpkin season makes me want to shriek with joy. Yep, I have sipped my pumpkin latte (I waited until September), noshed on pumpkin-flavored bagels, and have tried more than one brand of pumpkin yogurt (all with varying degrees of satisfaction), and I am soooo not even close to being done.

Feels a little early for pumpkin pie, though, no?

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Savory Pumpkin Tart

Instead, I am celebrating my favorite gourd with a savory tart- creamy, cheesy, herb-y, and delicious, redolent with all the pumpkin flavor I can pack in, but without spoiling my appetite for the sweet version I will be enjoying  around Thanksgiving. FYI- there is another National Pumpkin Pie Day, on December 25 th.

Savory Pumpkin Gruyere Tart

Crust:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Pinch ground black pepper

10 Tbsp (5 oz) cold butter, cut into pieces

2 Tbsp cold water

1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

 

Filling:

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 small-ish sugar pie pumpkin, peeled, insides removed, and chopped into 1″ cubes

1 tsp fresh sage, minced

1/8 tsp cayenne

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tsp dark rum

1 1/4 cups grated Gruyere

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan

2 Tbsp raw pepitas

 

To make the crust: Combine the flour, cheese, baking powder, salt, pepper and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the pieces of butter are approximately the size of peas. Sprinkle in the water and vinegar and continue to pulse until evenly distributed and a rough dough begins to take shape. Do not overmix. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap loosely in plastic wrap, and flatten. Store in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.

To make the filling: Heat the oil in a deep-sided saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute, stirring often, until the onion becomes translucent. Add the pumpkin, salt and pepper, cayenne and sage, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and allow to cook gently for 10 or so minutes. Stir and check the moisture. If the pan has become dry and the pumpkin is beginning to take on color, add a 1/4 cup water, stir, and cover. Simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the pumpkin pieces have cooked through and are easily squished with a fork. Uncover the pan and allow any moisture to cook off, stirring gently. Add the rum, then the cream. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of the Gruyere and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, being careful not to mash the pumpkin as you stir. Allow to cool.

Roll out the crust to 1/8″ thickness and line a 9″ tart ring with it. Cut away any excess dough and reserve for future snacking. Chill the dough for a few minutes. Add the filling to the crust, being sure not to leave any air pockets between the crust and filling. The result should be a fairly tightly packed tart. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and pepitas on top.

Bake in a 375 oven on the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling in the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before removing the ring and serving.