The Original Boston Cream Pie: History and Recipe

Let me start by saying that I had no idea there is such a thing as the official dessert of the state. Let me also further embarrass myself by saying it took me just a little over a year to try the official dessert of Massachusetts, although I live mere 50 miles away from Boston and have been there multiple times. It’s Boston Cream Pie we are talking about! It was proclaimed the official state dessert in 1996.

Boston cream pie |

You can find Boston Cream Pie in many bakeries and restaurants around the country, but does it get any better than trying it in the place where this pie was invented? Boston Cream Pie is a culinary creation of Boston’s Parker House, now widely known as Omni Parker House. According to their website,

“the recipe was originally called the Parker House “Chocolate Cream Pie”, and was created and served at Parker’s Restaurant from the opening of the hotel in October 1856”. 

The Omni Parker House home of Boston cream pie

The Omni Parker House in Boston |

After a little research on Internet I found many reviews saying it is not the best one in Boston, and that at $8.56 it is ridiculously expensive, but it’s more than a piece of pie for me – it’s a piece of history. My first ever Boston cream pie had to be the original one. That would set a bar for all the other versions I was going to try afterwards. That would be my reference in the world of pies that are not really pies but cakes. For that’s what it is.

Boston cream pie is a cake made of two layers of sponge, filled with rum infused custard cream and topped with chocolate ganache frosting. Why is it called pie then? As Yankee Magazine points out,

“at that time, pie and cake tins were often considered interchangeable, as were the words themselves. This lax approach to labeling is likely why Sanzian’s French-inspired concoction débuted as “Chocolate Cream Pie” in 1856, and why subsequent versions continued to be called pies rather than cakes”.

But there’s still more to its unique history. The use of chocolate icing on top was revolutionary.

“When the Parker House opened, chocolate was mainly consumed at home as a beverage or in puddings. So the Parker House cake might have become well known for its rather innovative use of chocolate”.

Can you believe that before this timeless dessert was invented the words “cake” and “chocolate” didn’t belong together? Can you imagine a world without chocolate frosted cake? What a sad world that would be!

Today these individual sized pies are still served in Parker’s Restaurant. One last “did you know” fact, I promise! The hotel states that it is in this restaurant at the table 40 that John F. Kennedy proposed to Jackie Bouvier. You can request the table for dinner. Although, there is also Martin’s Tavern of Georgetown that claims the proposal happened in their booth 3. Where is the truth?

The hotel is gorgeous and worth a visit  just to marvel at the beautiful architecture. Right now it is decorated for Christmas so being inside is even more exciting.

The Omni Parker House Christmas deco |

The Omni Parker House Lobby |

Inside the Omni Parker House |

Christmas tree at the Omni Parker House | thefoodiemiles  

If you don’t want to sit for a dinner at the restaurant you can visit a little gift shop inside the hotel called Morsel’s. They have coffee and a variety of desserts, including Boston Cream Pie. I chose this option since a dinner at Parker’s Restaurant costs a pretty penny.

Morsel's gift shop at the Omni Parker House |

I grabbed this baby to go and enjoyed it in a nearby coffee shop. What can I tell you? It’s a genuinely good cake: moist sponge, not overly sweet cream and delicious chocolate ganache. Almond flakes add a beautiful nutty note to it. A good old classic that you can rely on but it won’t blow your mind away.

original Boston cream pie

boston cream pie omni parker house

I was a bit underwhelmed at the first bite, but after giving it some thought I realized: maybe this pie isn’t supposed to blow your mind away? Since when has a piece of good cake stopped being enough? This is the traditional recipe; this is how the pie used to be made 160 years ago. It’s delicious – what else can you ask from it? So I say when in Boston, definitely head down to this historic site and have a bite of the legendary dessert!

The Omni Parker House

Address: 60, School St, Boston, MA 02108

Morsel’s gift shop

Hours: Mon – Fri: 6.30 am – 10.00 pm, Sat – Sun: 7.00 am – 10.00 pm

Or you can try and create history in your own home. The recipe of Boston Cream Pie was kept a secret until 1933 when Franklin Delano Roosevelt requested it for a state dinner. Now you can easily find it in Internet. Below is the recipe as it is published on the Omni Parker House website.

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Yulia is a Russian food and travel blogger who found home first in Sri Lanka for 3 years, then in Brazil for a year and is currently based in Austin, Texas. She is the kind of person who starts a research of the new country by googling “what to eat in…” instead of “what to visit in…” Yulia is a self-proclaimed “food nerd” who will spend hours reading on the origins of pecan pie before trying it and who doesn’t consider waiting in line of 50 people to get a cronut a waste of time. She finds it hard to keep her delicious findings to herself and that is the reason why this blog exists.

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