Bob’s Red Mill’s United States of Cookies: Boston Cream Pie Cookies (MA)

 Massachusetts’ cookie has a vanilla blancmange sandwiched between two cake-like vanilla cookies, the top smeared with chocolate ganache and sprinkled with rainbow nonpareils.

Recipe Source: https://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/how-to-make/boston-cream-pie-cookies-vegan-massachusetts/

Massachusetts skipped the obvious Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie in favor of a vegan sandwich cookie imitating Boston Cream Pie. Although I think they should have been saddled with the Molasses Cookies, since they (not NH) were the ones who had a Molasses Flood, I’ll allow it. Besides, my husband loves Boston Cream Pie.

I waffled back and forth on whether to follow the vegan ingredients for this recipe.  I had no problem buying almond milk and vegan spread, but when it got down to getting the vegan chocolate chips, organic sugar, etc, I began to see my imaginary grocery bill rocketing up. I decided to be a jerk and un-vegan-ify the whole thing.

A blancmange family portrait.

 
Whether you make it with dairy milk or an alternative milk, a pudding (American definition) is essentially thickened milk or cream, sweetened and flavored. You can thicken it with eggs and call it a custard. You can thicken it with gelatin (decidedly un-vegan, unless you get agar or another “vegan gelatin”) and call it a panna cotta. And you can thicken it with starch and call it a blancmange (though as this source says, the thickener has changed and varied over the years; it’s not always cornstarch). You can also cook rice in it and call it rice pudding. And apparently a junket is thickened with rennet. Now I know what those old classic stories were talking about.

If I end up in hell, an ideal punishment is to put me in charge of constantly stirring a pot of something that will never thicken.

I cooked for about 4 minutes on low because I wanted a thicker cream that maybe wouldn’t soak into the cookie if assembled ahead of time, as the recipe warned.


Now on to the cookies. Note that my “sifter” is just a mesh strainer. I do have one of those sifters that looks like a big can with a handle and a crank, but you can’t fit much into it and I’d rather just use this. It also fits nicely in a bowl for measuring things that need sifting instead of using two bowls. It’s easier to find, and most people already have one lying around.


I’m not entirely sure why the recipe used powdered sugar in the cookie. Does the cornstarch lead to better binding? Because creaming butter and granulated sugar creates air pockets for egg to fill, and there’s no egg? Anyway, it was looking pretty much like pie dough in progress until finally:


Then I messed up and added cold milk. Tip: you can microwave milk to take the chill off instead of leaving it sitting out for a while. I forgot to do that and the butter clumped.


So I pulled out the trick one of the chefs at school used on curdled buttercream:

Hello, torch, my old friend.


And because I was trying to keep my toddler from running up and getting burnt, did poorly on the “keep the flame moving” part.

This scorch mark is only on the inside but may be permanent.


This is why a hair dryer on hot and low is better, but I was out of plugs (I had my crock pot going, and had to have the mixer running while heating the bowl).

I also ignored the “chill in freezer, roll into balls and flatten” because I thought, “I don’t need perfectly round cookies. The scoop makes them almost balls without rolling.”

Only they didn’t spread at all.


I flattened the rest with the pan-sprayed glass bottom technique I used last time.

Look at the difference. The flatter cookies also made them easier to fill and have them sit straight instead of rolling.


The filling set up very well. Blancmange and panna cotta are often molded, after all. I should have whisked it before using it, so it didn’t keep the scoop shape.

Note the rolling and filling falling out.
It turns out that I have a ton of sprinkles, hidden away in my cake decorating supplies in a plastic bin in my basement.

Overall Impressions

Since I didn’t do the vegan version, I have no idea if the qualities I note are due to me not using the vegan ingredients in a recipe formulated to the properties of those ingredients, or if they are qualities intrinsic to the recipe.

The cookie itself is not fluffy, most likely due to the lack of egg. It is dense, almost clay-like in its mouthfeel like the Arizona Prickly Pear cookies were. It lacks the crispness or chewiness of other cookies.

The blancmange, while a delicious vanilla pudding (which doesn’t seem to have seeped into the cookies at all, at least overnight), of course lacks the custardy flavor of an egg-filled pastry cream, which is essential (in my opinion) to a Boston Cream Pie. I’ve had plenty of them filled with essentially vanilla pudding, no custard to speak of, but they aren’t as good that way.

These cookies are tasty (and the sprinkles are a nice touch: pretty, plus I love the crunch of the nonpareils) but as my husband said, “They’re just not Boston Cream Pie.”

When I first saw this recipe, I really did think these were whoopie pies masquerading as cookies; I was wrong. What it makes me want to do is make vanilla whoopie pies with a pastry cream filling and ganache topping. I have a feeling my husband would think those are closer to a “real” Boston Cream Pie.

Tips and Suggestions

  • Make sure all your ingredients are room temperature. If you have to warm the bowl up to uncurdle your batter, use a hair dryer instead of a torch.
  • Flatten the cookies prior to baking as they do not spread.
  • Whisk your filling before using, and pipe instead of scooping.

Next Time

Caramel apple cookies from Michigan. Yum! I hope I’m more pleased with those than I was with the apple fritter cookies.

All photos by Amber Sutton

Originally posted at bakeonthru.wordpress.com

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