There is no arguing that Boston Cream Pie is a delicious thing. Where the confusion comes in is why a layer cake is called a ‘pie.’ While we can’t totally solve that conundrum (more on that later), we have managed to make a super easy poke cake version of the Bostonian favorite. Translating it to a poke cake means that the vanilla custard permeates the crumb throughout, so every bite is moist and luscious. (And it takes a whole lot less work too.)
Normally a Boston Cream Pie involves a couple of layers, and making a custard, and a chocolate glaze – that’s to say, there’s some substantial effort involved. But we got you. This poke cake uses just a few ingredients and a couple of shortcuts for a sublimely easy cake that has all the flavor of the original.
You start with a box of yellow cake mix and prepare it according to the package instructions. Once it’s baked, you poke it all over with the handle end of a wooden spoon, making sure it’s thoroughly dotted with holes. If you haven’t made a poke cake before, this is what allows the filling to soak down into the cake and flavor every single bite, so poke well!
Our ‘custard’ relies on a quick mixture of instant vanilla pudding and milk and a little extra vanilla extract to up that vanilla flavor a bit. You pour it over the cake and let it hang out in the fridge to settle in while you go put your feet up. (The laundry can wait. Promise.)
Our chocolate glaze is a simple ganache made of chocolate chips and heavy cream that’s poured over the top before it – once again – goes into the fridge for a bit to set up. (Okay, there’s some waiting involved. But all good things are worth waiting for. Grab a book. The laundry can keep waiting.)
All that’s left to do is slice and serve and eat. And that’s the best part.
So why is Boston Cream Pie called ‘pie’ when it’s really a cake? Well, it dates back to a time when pies and cakes were baked in the same kind of pan and the words were used interchangeably. Our version certainly can’t claim that kind of history, but whatever you want to call it, you can be assured that it’s seriously good eatin’.
1 box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients called for on package
2 (3.4 oz) boxes instant vanilla pudding
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 oz bag chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Prepare yellow cake in a 9×13-inch baking pan according to package instructions. Let cool completely.
Once cake has cooled, poke holes all over the cake using the end of a wooden spoon.
While cake cools, whisk together the instant pudding, milk, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Before the pudding has a chance to set up and thicken, pour it evenly over the cake. Place in refrigerator to chill for one hour.
Once cake has chilled, make the chocolate ganache:
Place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and heat cream until simmering on the stovetop over low heat. (You can also heat it in the microwave.)
Pour hot cream over chocolate chips and let sit for 5 minutes to soften the chocolate. Stir until smooth and let cool for 10 minutes.
Pour chocolate over cake and smooth with a spatula. Chill in refrigerator at least 4 hours and up to overnight before slicing and serving. Enjoy!