Celebrate National Boston Cream Pie Day by Trying the Original Recipe

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iStock/bhofack2

Every October 23, Bostonians, bakers, and dessert aficionados across the country celebrate National Boston Cream Pie Day. But keep in mind that when you're whipping up your own favorite version, you might not have the original recipe on hand.

The dessert was first dished out in October 1856 at Boston’s Parker House–a historic hotel on Boston’s Freedom Trail that’s now known as the Omni Parker House. Sold in Parker’s Restaurant, the cake was referred to as “Chocolate Cream Pie.” What distinguished the cake from other restaurant fare was its innovative use of chocolate icing—a rarity at the time, since chocolate was mostly used in drinks and puddings. In any case, the sweet treat became so sought after that it was made into a Betty Crocker boxed mix in 1958, and sold until the 1990s.

In 1996, the Boston Cream Pie was named the official dessert of Massachusetts, cementing its place in our cookbooks—and taste buds—for good. But over time, the recipe has been changed and varied by countless bakers.

You’ve likely encountered a version of Boston Cream Pie that’s similar to a Washington pie, which is a two-layer, jam-filled yellow cake covered with confectioner’s sugar. (In this adaptation, the jam is swapped out for pastry cream.) There are fruit-filled and caramel-drizzled sweets, and you’ve most likely encountered Boston Cream Pie doughnuts, cheesecakes, and yogurts as well. But if you're hankering for the real thing, you can scope out the original recipe—which will yield two layers of golden sponge cake separated by pastry cream and covered with chocolate fondant and toasted almonds—over at the Omni Parker House website.

Canned Pumpkin Isn’t Actually Pumpkin

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iStock

We hate to squash your autumnal dreams, but baking a pumpkin pie might not be as easy as you think. That’s because the canned pumpkin that normally makes pie prep such a breeze isn’t made of pumpkin at all. Food & Wine reports that cans of pumpkin puree—even those that advertise "100 percent pumpkin"—are actually made of a range of different squashes.

Most pumpkin purees are a mix of winter squashes, including butternut squash, Golden Delicious, and Hubbard. Meanwhile, Libby’s, the largest pumpkin puree brand, has developed its own unique brand of squash called the Dickinson, which is more closely related to a butternut squash than a pumpkin. The FDA is vague about what counts as "pumpkin," which allows companies to pack unspecified squashes into their purees and still list pumpkin as the sole ingredient.

While it’s a little unsettling to find out your favorite pie is not what it seems, pumpkin puree brands have a good reason for their deception. While pumpkins are a quintessential part of autumn, they don’t actually taste that great. Most pumpkins are watery and a little bit stringy, and turning them into a puree takes more work, and involves less reward, than other, sweeter winter squashes.

[h/t Food & Wine]

What's the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?

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iStock

For carbohydrate lovers, nothing completes a Thanksgiving meal quite like stuffing—shovelfuls of bread, celery, mushrooms, and other ingredients that complement all of that turkey protein.

Some people don’t say stuffing, though. They say dressing. In these calamitous times, knowing how to properly refer to the giant glob of insulin-spiking bread seems necessary. So what's the difference?

Let’s dismiss one theory off the bat: Dressing and stuffing do not correlate with how the side dish is prepared. A turkey can be stuffed with dressing, and stuffing can be served in a casserole dish. Whether it’s ever seen the inside of a bird is irrelevant, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong and should be met with suspicion, if not outright derision.

The terms are actually separated due to regional dialects. Dressing seems to be the favored descriptor for southern states like Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, while stuffing is preferred by Maine, New York, and other northern areas. (Some parts of Pennsylvania call it filling, which is a bit too on the nose, but to each their own.)

If stuffing stemmed from the common practice of filling a turkey with carbs, why the division? According to The Huffington Post, it may have been because Southerners considered the word stuffing impolite, and therefore never embraced it.

While you should experience no material difference in asking for stuffing or dressing, when visiting relatives it might be helpful to keep to their regionally-preferred word to avoid confusion. Enjoy stuffing yourselves.

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