Celebrate National Boston Cream Pie Day by Trying the Original Recipe

iStock/bhofack2
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.

Scientists Built a LEGO 'Electrospinner' to Improve the Texture of Lab-Grown Meat

iStock.com/Ekaterina79
iStock.com/Ekaterina79

A group of food scientists who are working to create lab-grown meat have found inspiration in an unlikely source: LEGOs. According to Food & Wine, researchers from Pennsylvania State University and the University of Alabama used LEGO components to create a device capable of improving the texture of the meat they were cultivating. Their findings were recently published in the journal Food Hydrocolloids.

Any protein that comes from “stem or stem-like animal cells” that are cultured in a lab can be considered lab-grown meat, according to Penn State. While lab-grown meat can be labeled a meat substitute because it requires far fewer animals for its production, it remains to be seen whether vegans and vegetarians will be willing to eat it.

Lab-grown meat is still very much in the development stages, and scientists are working on ways to improve the texture. Because cultured muscle cells don’t have any particular structure when they grow, the meat generally comes out resembling ground beef. That’s fine if you’re hoping to make more humane tacos, but it presents a challenge when trying to create, say, a lab-grown steak.

This is where the toy bricks came in. Researchers used LEGO Power Functions to create an electrospinning device that was capable of turning starch fibers into a structured meat “scaffold.” The plastic pieces were ideal because they weren’t conductive, which was crucial because the researchers were working with water and ethanol.

Unlike scaffolds that produce plastic fibers for biomedical purposes, the LEGO device was capable of spinning corn-derived fibers. In other words, what's going into the meat is entirely edible. “The idea is we could make a nice, edible, clean scaffold for our clean meat,” Gregory Ziegler, a Penn State professor and director of graduate studies at the university's Department of Food Science, told Food & Wine.

Scientists are now looking for ways to improve their equipment in order to churn out larger amounts of starch scaffolds.

[h/t Food & Wine]

This Macaroni and Cheese Meatball Recipe Is Easy Enough to Make in a Dorm Room

iStock.com/LauriPatterson
iStock.com/LauriPatterson

It's hard to make creative meals when you're working out of a dorm "kitchen," but Daniel Holzman, the chef/co-owner of The Meatball Shop in New York City, proves that college students don't need to limit themselves to energy drinks and instant ramen noodles. Using just a coffee maker and a toaster oven, he's found a way to prepare an easy recipe for macaroni and cheese meatballs.

The video below is the fourth episode of "The College Try," a new series from Food & Wine and Spoon University that challenges chefs to create meals using dorm equipment and ingredients. Holzman starts by "brewing" his macaroni in a coffee maker. Once the pasta is cooked, he stirs in one tablespoon of butter and transfers it to a plate. To start making the cheese sauce, he adds two cups of milk and two tablespoons of butter to the coffee pot before retuning it to the warm burner.

Holzman prepares the meatballs by mixing ground beef, breadcrumbs, cheddar cheese, salt, and the cooked macaroni in a bowl. After he shapes the meat mixture into 2-inch balls, he bakes them in a toaster oven preheated to 450°F for 12 minutes.

The last step is the sauce. The chef whisks a packet of cheese powder from a box of macaroni and cheese into the milk and uses that as the base for his plate of meatballs. In about half an hour, he makes a meal that looks a lot better than what you can find in most college dining halls.

From microwaved omelets to mug cakes, here are some more cooking hacks for dorm life.

[h/t Spoon University]

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