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Mocha Boston Cream Pie

Who says you can’t make a good thing better? While purists don’t like their desserts messed with, this Boston Cream Pie, version 2.0, is as delicious as the classic, and even more stunning.

Perhaps a surprise to you, Boston Cream Pie isn’t actually a pie at all. It’s an East Coast staple hailing from the famous Parker House Hotel in Boston. Regardless of who you talk to, the parameters for qualifying as a Boston Cream Pie are fairly standard across the board. Two rich, yellow sponge cakes sandwich a luxurious vanilla pastry cream, and a silky, shiny chocolate glaze tops it all off.

How do you improve on that? Instead of two layers of sponge cake, stack it high with three. It gives the “pie” more visual appeal, but let’s be honest, there’s twice as much room for pastry cream. And speaking of pastry cream, this mocha variation not only contrasts the yellow cakes beautifully, it’s ultra chocolatey with just enough espresso to grab your attention.

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Preheat oven to 325°. Coat three 9×2-inch-round cake pans with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and coat with spray again.

For the cakes, sift together flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Whisk together 6 yolks, milk, oil, butter, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth; whisk in flour mixture just until combined for the batter.

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, 5 minutes; increase speed to medium-high. Gradually sprinkle in remaining ¼ cup sugar and beat until whites are stiff and glossy, but not dry, 3–4 minutes more.

Fold beaten egg whites into batter in four additions, adding more when no streaks remain. Divide batter among prepared pans.

Bake cakes until golden and they spring back when lightly touched, 30 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Let cakes cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn onto racks to cool completely.

For the pastry cream, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, ¼ cup sugar, and liqueur until frothy.

Heat milk and remaining ½ cup sugar in a saucepan over medium, and simmer, about 12 minutes. Off heat, whisk in chocolate until fully incorporated.

Whisk half the chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture, then slowly whisk back into pan. Cook pastry cream over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, 2–3 minutes.

Combine vanilla and espresso powder. Whisk into pastry cream along with butter and salt. Transfer pastry cream to a bowl, press plastic wrap over surface, and chill until cold, at least 2 hours.

For the ganache, heat cream and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium to a simmer. Off heat, stir in chocolate; let stand 8 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla.

To assemble, arrange 1 cake round on a serving plate. Spread 1½ cups pastry cream over cake, leaving a ¼-inch border; arrange second cake round on top. Repeat spreading pastry cream and arranging last cake round on top. Pour ganache over top cake layer and gently spread toward edges. Let ganache set at least 30 minutes before serving.

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