Thursday, August 19, 2010



It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Off we flew to Florida, hearts heavy thinking of leaving Marty behind, yet hearts light assuring ourselves that we had left him in good hands, highly recommended, a place where he could spend his days out of doors, dashing in and out of the trees with furry companions, getting dirty to his little heart’s content, basking in the warm summer sun of Nantes. We said our goodbyes, turned away and left for vacation.

Marty with Simon during the best of times.

Fast forward 24 hours or so. Open the door and walk into mom’s house to be greeted by Buster, her own little Boston terrier. Pudgy butterball to Marty’s spindly elegance, Buster barrels through the house, little clown face barely large and round enough to contain his toothy grin, he is a happy little dog basking in the joy of four weeks of constant attention, tummy rubs and playing companions. Yes, we feel just a little guilty each time we snuggle with Buster, toss the ball with Buster, pamper and spoil Buster, feeling guilty that at that very moment our own poor Marty is in some cage, all alone on the other side of the Atlantic without our constant show of love, without his daily ration of treats, but we smile and reassure each other that he must be having a ball.


And Buster deserves this attention. Poor little Boston is an orphan; he was my brother Michael’s dog and after having lived through the horror of my brother’s illness for close upon two years, of having been neglected and abused by one who could do no better under the circumstances, who knew no better as he was, he was welcomed into my mother’s house a year ago last June when they brought my brother home. He lost his master and gained a mistress; my mother the self-proclaimed dog hater clung onto this little creature as a way to hold onto her son. And she has fallen in love. My mom, independent and set in her ways, is in total sync with pudgy Buster now: their daily rhythm filled with doggie treats given like clockwork, ball toss sessions in the backyard, even walks around the block! She takes him to work where he lies at her feet only jumping up to greet visitors. He is a good little dog, calm and funny. As we watch him plod through the house then plop down onto the cool tile floor, legs splayed out looking for all the world like a large black and white frog, or suffer through one of his sneezing fits that lifts his entire body off of the floor, or laugh as he juggles his little red ball, rolling it across his back and down his nose, we realize how lucky the little devil is to have ended up in this funny Odd Couple relationship with my mom, to have found peace… the Spring of Hope.

Simon and Buster

Close to four weeks of activity, constant attention and spoiling, we left Buster content, happy and having to go back to finding his daily rhythm again with mom. Anxious to get back home to our own beds, our own kitchen and our daily habits, we suffered through the long three flights and airport layovers with only one thought in our minds: bust Marty out of prison…er, um, I mean: pick Marty up from camp! We arrived home 24 hours later, dropped our bags in the hallway and rushed out to the car and off we dashed! And then… heartbreak…

To make a long story short… I had started to tell the whole disturbing story but will spare you the gory details. Needless to say, while we were pampering his cousin, Marty was suffering. While it was the Best of Times for Buster, it was heartrendingly the Worst of Times for Marty: on close inspection once we arrived home, we saw that his body was littered with bite marks and scars, he was limping in obvious pain, bleeding still from fresh bites and he lay down on a clean sheet and cried for 24 hours. Some of it may have been for show, to make us feel our guilt, milk it for all it was worth, but poor baby did not enjoy camp, did not make friends, did not have a good time. He had been bullied and bitten; it was indeed his Winter of Despair

Marty on his first day home... despair and one paw in the air

A week has gone by and his wounds are healing and he seems close to normal. It is his turn to be spoiled and pampered,, cuddled and hugged. But our hearts have been ripped out of our chests and we swore on his tiny, scarred head that he will never be left alone again. He is part of the family and vacations will be planned accordingly.

Marty most definitely being pampered

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

I have made one fabulous Boston Cream Pie before, traditional in it’s light-as-air sponge layers, its luxurious vanilla pastry cream filling, it’s dark chocolate ganache icing. In honor of Marty’s pudgy cousin Buster, in all of his clown-like glory, I have made tiny, plump, individual Boston Cream Pies, baking the sponge in muffin tins, filling the split cakes with a wonderful, rich chocolate pastry cream and draping each in a fantastic orange-infused semisweet chocolate ganache frosting. For the ganache I used a special Dark Chocolate with Orange Zest made by Monoprix Gourmet which gave these cakes, as it says on the package, “un petit air de fête”, a festive quality, like our time spent with Buster.

The sponge batter made 12 individual Boston Cream Pies. I baked a dozen mini-Bundt sponge cakes with the rest of the batter, delicious and delightful at breakfast or as a light snack.

So, here is to our Bostons, those charming, loving, funny little dogs, so different yet so alike.

With Chocolate Pastry Cream Filling and Dark Chocolate Orange Ganache

Sponge cake:
5 large eggs
¾ cup (150 g) sugar, divided
½ tsp vanilla
3/4 cup (95 g) flour (I use cake flour)
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3 Tbs milk
2 Tbs (30 g) unsalted butter
1/8 tsp cream of tartar or few grains of salt + drop or two of lemon juice to stabilize whites

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter and line 12 muffins tins. Butter 12 mini-Bundt pans.

Carefully separate 3 of the eggs, placing the yolks in a large mixing bowl and the whites in a medium-sized mixing bowl, preferably plastic (ideal for whipping whites). Add the remaining 2 whole eggs to the yolks and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour with the baking powder and the salt.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the milk and butter just until warm enough for the butter to melt. Once melted, stir together, remove from the heat and set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the eggs and the yolks together with 6 tablespoons of the sugar on high speed for 5 minutes until thick, light and fluffy and the batter drops off in a slow ribbon when the beaters are lifted. Beat in the vanilla.

In a clean mixing bowl, preferably plastic, and with very clean beaters, whip the egg whites with either the cream of tartar or a few grains of salt and a drop or two of lemon juice on low speed until foamy. Increase the speed to high and continue beating, gradually adding the remaining sugar. Beat only until soft, moist, shiny peaks form.

Gently fold in half of the creamy egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining beaten whites. Sift or spoon half the flour mixture over the batter and gently fold it in before adding the remaining flour and folding that in just until incorporated. Do not over mix.

Make a well on one side of the batter and pour the warm melted butter/milk mixture into the bowl. Gently but thoroughly fold the butter/milk into the batter. Again, do not over mix.

Ladle the batter into the prepared muffin or mini-Bundt pans, filling about 2/3. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes. They should be puffed up, golden brown and set. Remove from the oven, loosen with a sharp knife and lift out. Allow to cool on a cooling rack before Filling.

Chocolate Pastry Cream:
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) whole milk
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 large egg yolks (keep the whites for macarons!)
¼ cup (50 g) sugar
1/8 cup (20 g) flour
Scant 3 Tbs (20 g) cornstarch
2 oz (50 g) semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature

In a medium bowl, stir the egg yolks and sugar together with a wooden spoon until thick and creamy. Sift the flour and cornstarch together then stir into the egg/sugar mixture until you have a paste.

Place the milk and the split vanilla bean in a saucepan and heat over a low flame just until boiling; the milk will start to foam up around the edges. Remove from the heat and add the melted chocolate, stirring until smooth. Add the hot chocolate milk mixture to the egg mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly so the eggs do not curdle, until all of the milk has been whisked into the egg paste. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds adding the seeds back to the chocolate cream mixture.

Place the chocolate milk/egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium low heat just until boiling, whisking constantly. When it comes to a boil allow it to cook, still whisking non-stop, for an additional 30 – 60 seconds until it becomes very thick.

Remove from the heat and immediately scrape out of the pan into a clean glass bowl or large measuring cup. If you like, you can stir in a tablespoon or two of Amaretto, Grand Marnier or whatever you like, to taste. But for this cake it really is not necessary.

Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic onto the surface of the pastry cream, and refrigerate until cool. You can keep the pastry cream in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Dark Chocolate Orange Ganache
4 oz (120 g) Dark Chocolate with Orange Zest, finely chopped *
½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
1 tsp unsalted butter

* Feel free to use any flavored dark chocolate

Place the finely chopped chocolate in a heatproof medium-sized bowl. Bring the cream and the butter just to the boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it comes to the bowl, pour the liquid over the chocolate and allow it to stand for 2 or 3 minutes. Stir until smooth and continue to stir until creamy and thick enough to spread. If you need to (as I did) place the bowl in the fridge until the desired pouring/spreading consistency is reached (not too thick or it won’t spread), taking the bowl out of the fridge and stirring every few minutes to check.

Individual Boston Cream Pies:

Using a serrated knife, carefully slice each sponge muffin in two horizontally. Gently spread a tablespoon or two – as much or as little as you like – of the Chocolate Pastry Cream on the bottom half of each cake. Sandwich. Drizzle Dark Chocolate Orange Ganache over the top of each cake and serve.

Serve the mini-Bundt sponge cakes with warm Dark Chocolate Orange Ganache drizzled over the top with ice cream for an elegant dessert or as is for breakfast or coffee break.


Anh said...

omg! I need to comment on how these beautiful pies look!

Okay, off to read your lovely writing now :)

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Ooh! I need to hug both Buster and Marty! They look like excellent kissers. And then I shall have some cake..

Jamie said...

@Anh - Thanks, honey bunch and a hug to you!

@Natashya KitchenPuppies - ROTFLMAO!! Cake for you!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Delicious little cake! Marty and Buster are sooooooooooooo cute!



Elle said...

Oh no--poor little Marty! :( Glad he's recovering nicely and being spoiled.

The cakes are divine! I'd like both, please!

Debugcooking said...

Aww Jamie...such beautiful pies...when can I come over for a slice?mary and Buster are toooo cute...

5 Star Foodie said...

The individual boston cream pies look adorable and just heavenly delicious!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Oooh, orange ganache :D, what a lovely twist.
*kisses* HH

elra said...

as always, anything you make look scrumptious. Your new site look very neat as well. I like it very much!

Juliana said...

Oh! What a great the individual cakes...not that it will stop me to have more...they look so yummie :-)

Su-yin said...

Poor Marty! I'm sure he's delighted that you're all back and he's being suitably pampered now. Due to the lack of pet facilities back home, we keep Max at home when we go on holiday - my aunts come to walk him twice a day, and if it's a long period of time they sometimes sleep over at our house so he doesn't get too lonely. You've made me really miss him with this post!

And now on to the food. I love the cuteness of the mini bundts! Lovely.

lisaiscooking said...

Poor, sweet Marty! We'll be leaving our kitties behind soon when we leave on a trip, and I'm already sad to have to do so. Hope he's happy again soon!

And, boston cream pies are my favorite thing. Love the idea of filling them with a chocolate pastry cream.

faithy, the baker said...

soo cute! both dogs are such cutie!
And the boston cream pies and mini sponge bundts look delish!! makes me want to bake bostom cream pies now..i have yet to try them you know..i wonder if i'll like it..but yours certainly look like something i would love.

Half Baked said...

Poor Marty...he's adorable and your cakes look amazing!!

Aparna said...

Mary. Hope he's recovered from the horrors! Befitting little pies to honour those two champions with.
Wouldn't mind being honoured with one of these myself. :D

tina_bakes said...

Boston Cream Pie!! my absolute favourite! :)

Jamie said...

@Aparna - I'll bake a whole Boston Cream Pie in honor of your 17th Wedding Anniversary xox

@Faithy - Go for it, girl! Your a fab baker and wow Boston Cream Pie is the best!

@Girlfriends all: thanks much! The cakes are fabulous and poor Marty is healing quickly. And being pampered like a king!

Deeba PAB said...

Heartbreak time Jamie... Marty must be so glad to have you back! Gosh, my heart sank when I read your mail yesterday! About these little beauties ... un petit air de fête ... absolutely! They are a celebration in themselves and I love the ganache. the pictures are dramatic and whimsical together ... gorgeous! And once Natashya's done kissing the pugs, we shall all have cake!!

Jamie said...

@Deeba: between you and Natashya my boy would be better in no time and forget all about his woes! You two better get here ASAP!

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Oh poor Marty! I hope Boston Cream Pie was one of his favourites!!! Great to see you back, I've missed you. xx

DebbieK said...

Jamie, just heartbreaking about poor Marty but hopefully all that love and spoiling is helping him heal 100%. As for your Mom with Buster, even people who don't think they can be dog lovers soon learn that dogs/pets are unconditional love...they are happy to love 24/7 <3 Nice to meet Buster even if he almost had an intimate encounter with Yasmin's leg ;-) Know Lee recently dogsat his son's dog and by the end of the week, wasn't sure he wanted to give her back. You do get very attached to our 4 legged friends. Recipe looks yummy...absolutely LOVE the fork :)

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

Hope all is getting better for you.

Your presentation is heavenly...very very crave worthy

Lora said...

I can understand having had a similar experience with my Shar Peis - they came back from doggie care scrawny and feeble. It was awful. oved your tale of two bostons and the pies look wonderful.

Fahrenheit 350° said...

I love mini anything! These are going on my menu this week!

Susan said...

I completely empathize with your story of Marty...we no longer leave our pups at "camp" either. But I was comforted by these gorgeous pictures and inspired to try them myself. Thanks for a lovely read.

Kudos Kitchen said...

Jamie your story made me cry for poor little Marty and his horrible experience! It also had me crying tears of happiness for little Buster! I feel such love for the breed and I can't imagine how you must have felt upon your return home to your baby. Soooo glad you can pamper your little guy once again and he can smell your wonderful baked goods safe in his own comfy bed.

Sippity Sup said...

Don't worry about Buster he's gonna bounce right back. Did I ever tell you we had a Pug named Buster! He lived to about 17 and was a pampered spoiled baby too. GREG

Barbara Bakes said...

How heartbreaking for poor Marty and you. We left our Yorkie at a kennel one year and he got out and was killed, so no camp for our Beagle now either. It's been too long since I've had Boston Cream pie. Your versions sound scrumptious.

Angie's Recipes said...

These mini sponge bundts look cute!
I bet your mom has more fun than Buster.

Jamie said...

@Angie's Recipes - Ha ha ha I bet you are right; my mom is having a ball spoiling Buster!

@Barbara Bakes - Oh my! What a horribly sad story about your Yorkie! Oh no! Big hug!

@Sippity Sup - Greg, why am I not surprised that you had a little roly poly dog named Buster, too?

@Kudos Kitchen - Ah, yes, you join Natashya and I in the I Love Bostons Club and he needs some of your Boston cookies!

Jasmine said...

Jamie, I love these cakes! Mini-Bundt sponge cakes, in particular, look amazing!!
Now I'll have to look for mini bundt tins in Italy, which will take forever, to be able to bake them!!

Eliana said...

Thank you so much for the sweet comment you left on my blog. And even more thanks for sharing these pies with us. They look FAB!!!

Jessica said...

Beautiful Boston cream pies and even more beautiful Boston terriers! I'm so sorry to hear about your poor little Marty. Glad he's feeling better now though.

mlaiuppa said...

How very lovely and delicious.

I had my dog DNA tested. Not a lab. No one drop. But of all the many dogs his is, the top two most dogs he is are Afghan hound and....Boston Terrier. I can see the Boston in his coloring and a bit in his gate when he runs towards me.

My baby will never see a camp or kennel. We all plan our vacations so we can dog sit each other's dogs.

The cream pie looks heavenly. And I love the chocolate cream filling and the tough of orange in the icing.

Raspberry may be the go to fruit for pairing with chocolate, but my personal favorite is orange and chocolate.

Sophie said...

Waw, those mini Boston cream pies look the max!!

These mini sponge Bundts look also the best!! You have certainly a sweet tooth!!

Buster & Marty are lovely dogs too!

gastroanthropologist said...

Oh dear. We sent our chocolate lab (who turned six today) once to a chi chi many years ago for a few days when nobody could watch her - never again. Now my parents have showered my neighbor with cheesecakes and lavish gifts so she will dogsit. If the neighbor or a family member can't stay with her the trip will get cancelled.

Linda V @ Bubble and Sweet said...

What lovely looking boston cream pies, they look so delicious and the pics of the mini bundt cakes are gorgeous.

asiangrrl said...

It's lovely how Buster and your mom have bonded, but oh, poor Marty! The pies, on the other hand, look heavenly.

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

OMG poor Marty! The GUILT!! Glad to hear he is on the mend though. The pies and the Bundts look phenomenal - light yet decadent :)

Gee said...

I clicked on the "next blog" at the top of mine and it brought me to here and saw your Boston Cream Pie photo and thought ohhh...I hope she has posted the recipe - Yes!!

Jamie said...

@Gee - that is too funny! But love it! Thanks for visiting and don't miss the recipe for my original Boston Cream Pie post and recipe:


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