Thursday, April 23, 2009
Boston Creme Pie: The Official State Dessert of Massachusetts
I’ve visited Boston a few times, but can’t recall ever tasting the official state dessert- Boston Crème Pie. The dish looks like it would be perfect for a pie-throwing contest; firm enough to throw and not fall apart, but gushy enough to make a sloppy mess.
The pie is actually much more a cake: two layers of sponge cake with custard filling in the middle, similar to donut crème. There is no crust. The top is frosted with a thick chocolate glaze, like a ganache. When served, the dessert is cut into wedges.
Naturally I was curious about the pie’s history. Apparently early American colonists lacked cake pans and used pie tins to make pudding-cake.
The Parker House Hotel, now the Omni Parker House Hotel, claims to have served the pies since their opening in 1856. The story says that French chef M. Sanzian, who was hired for the hotel’s opening, created Boston cream pie. But, his cake was originally served by the names Chocolate Cream Pie or Parker House Chocolate Cream Pie.
Back in 1996, a civics class from Norton High School sponsored the bill to name a state dessert. Boston Cream Pie was the winner: the official Massachusetts State Dessert. Interestingly, the pie beat out the toll house cookie and Indian pudding. Can surely understand the latter.
Anyway, here I was shopping in Sudbury, a Boston suburb (with the zipcode 01776) and the freshly baked pie-cakes were being put on display. I decided the time had come for a taste test.
Debi’s Taste Test
I made myself a cup of tea, choosing Orange Pekoe over English Breakfast- just didn’t feel right or patriotic recalling the Boston Tea Party. Then cut myself a slice and photographed it.
The chocolate frosting was smooth and yummy, pretty much overpowering the cake. The sponge layers, which resembled yellow cake, were very moist but didn’t have much flavor. And, honestly I didn’t taste much of the crème filling either.
Being one who has a savage sweet tooth, yet still tries to watch calories, I’d forgo Boston Crème Pie in the future. The concoction just wasn’t delicious enough compared to other New England specialties: cranberry bread, apple pie or cobbler. Ah-hem. Pass me some Florida state pie, please. That would be Key Lime.