Boston Cream Pie (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


I have lived in the Boston area for over 8 years. It’s longer than I ever lived in Phoenix or Vancouver, and it seems likely that my time here will come to surpass even the time I spent in the city of my childhood, Toronto. This surprises me somehow, that a city I knew little of or ever really cared about growing up is the city where I appear to have put down roots. The husband/kids/house kind of roots. Those aren’t the sort of roots that are easily transplanted on a whim. There is much to love about this area, such as the history and the culture that is visible almost everywhere. These things are part of the reason we chose to move here. There is also much about the area that frustrates me, such as the crazy driving and the lack of street signs. I often make my way to a destination more by feel than by proper directions. And try giving driving directions to an outsider! I always feel awful, wondering if I’ve sent the poor sucker on a wild goose chase.

One little bit of Boston culture that I hadn’t experienced until now is Boston Cream Pie, which according to Wikipedia is the city’s “official dessert”. And in keeping with the Bostonian way of making things confusing, it isn’t a pie at all, but really a cake. A cake filled with vanilla pastry cream and topped with chocolate. Okay, so they might be out to confuse outsiders with improper names and signage, but when it comes to dessert, Bostonians aren’t messing around! You can’t really go wrong with a cream-filled cake topped with luscious chocolate ganache. Now that I’ve made one and tasted it, it seems astonishing I never did this before.

And I probably never would have tried it, if it hadn’t been a special request by a reader. Here’s the problem, though – I can’t figure out who requested it. I know someone did, because I remember thinking it was a great idea and wondering why I didn’t think of it on my own. But when I look back over the comment fields of the posts where I opened my blog up to requests, I can’t find it at all. So if YOU were the person who urged me to try my hand at a low carb, gluten free Boston Cream Pie, speak up! I want to thank you. As it turns out, this was a fairly easy dessert to render low carb. I knew instantly that I would use my cake recipe from the Lemon Cream Cake, and in fact, I actually used the layer I had frozen when I decided that the Lemon Cake was going to be too big. This was my first time making pastry cream, but I’ve made plenty of other custardy things before so I was confident in my ability. After that, it just needed a thick, chocolatey, ganache type topping and I’ve certainly made plenty of those for this blog!

The Results: I think I hardly need to tell you that this was good – the chocolate dripping down the sides in the pictures should be proof enough. I was delighted by how the cake layer I’d had in the freezer thawed out, and cut nicely into two layers. The pastry cream was easy to make and tasted so good that I deliberately left a little in the bowl to eat separately from the cake. I will confess that in my impatience, I didn’t leave the pastry cream to set in the fridge long enough, so it did squish out a bit from the sides of the cake, but I kind of liked the way it looked, all ooey and gooey. Unlike some of my low carb creations, this cake was a hit with every single member of the family. In fact, I received multiple thanks from the kids for this one!

In this recipe, I used Safest Choice pasteurized eggs for the pastry cream. These are eggs that have been pasteurized in their shell and I like to use them when I know the kids will be eating my creations. The yolks in the pastry cream technically do get “cooked” from the heat of the cream, but it makes me feel a little bit safer when I know my littlest one will be tasting it.

Boston Cream Pie

Pastry Cream: (make this first and let it chill while making the other parts)
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated erythritol
pinch salt
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp butter, cut into two pieces
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
16 drops stevia extract

2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup granulated erythritol
1/4 cup whey protein powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz greek yogurt
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
10 drops stevia extract
1/4 cup almond milk

Chocolate Glaze:
5 tbsp butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp powdered erythritol or xylitol
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
16 drops stevia extract

For the pastry cream, bring whipping cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks with erythritol and salt, then whisk in cornstarch until mixture becomes pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.

Slowly whisk about half of the hot cream into the yolks to temper, then return the yolk/cream mixture back to the saucepan and cook until thick and glossy, about 1 1/2 minutes, whisking continuously. It thickens up suddenly and quickly, so watch carefully!

Remove from heat and whisk in butter, vanilla and stevia. Transfer to a small bowl and press plastic wrap flush to the surface. Chill in refrigerator at least 3 hours.

For the cake, preheat the oven to 350F and grease an 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, erythritol, xanthan gum, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt, breaking up any clumps with the back of a fork. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat yogurt and butter together until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla and stevia and beat until just combined. Add half of almond flour mixture and beat until combined, then beat in almond milk. Beat in remaining flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

Spread batter in prepared pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes or until edges are golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes and then flip out onto a wire rack to cool completely. When cake is completely cool, cut in half horizontally with a serrated knife.

For the chocolate glaze
, melt butter, chocolate and powdered erythritol together in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in cocoa powder, vanilla and stevia and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and let sit 5 to 10 minutes, while assembling cake, until glaze is thicker but still pourable.

To assemble, separate the two halves of the cake. Place the bottom half cut-side up on serving dish and spread with pastry cream. Gently top with the second half, cut-side down and lining the edges up carefully. Pour chocolate glaze over the top of the cake and spread with a knife or offset spatula, pushing to the edges and letting it drip down over the sides.

Let glaze set 1 hour before serving.

Serves 10. Each serving has a total of 10.2 g of carbs and 4.3 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 5.9 g.

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  1. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel says

    love the second picture! so pretty. I've made a cupcake version but never the traditional/original version. I should really get on that.

  2. The Mom Chef says

    Bless you, Allison, for requesting this. Wow, wow, wow. I'm not even gluten or carb anything, but I'll be giving this a go.

    That picture; it was definitely a one-chance taker, huh. I can't believe how perfectly it turned out. Share how you managed that. Who was pouring and who was clicking? :)

  3. Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having says

    This looks so good! Boston Cream is one my favourites. Love the ganache dripping down the side in your photos!

  4. Jeanette says

    I don't think I've ever had authentic Boston Cream Pie, but yours looks like the perfect low carb one. The cake looks really good – wouldn't guess it was made with just almond flour.

  5. Claudie says

    It indeed looks really good! I have seen Boston pies many times, but have never tried one. I think it's time that changes :)

  6. RavieNomNoms says

    You definitely don't need to tell me that this is good. Boston Cream is one of my favorite things. Whether it be a donut, cake, cupcake…you name it and I will eat it if it says "Boston Creame".

    Your cake looks positively sinful. That ganache and the cream…::swoons:: heaven.

  7. Nami | Just One Cookbook says

    Oh my. I love the photo of chocolate being drizzled… beautiful shot! I've been to Boston just once but never had Boston Cream Pie. Looks delicious!

  8. MikeVFMK says

    Love this cake, err pie. My favourite donut (even though I don't eat them very often) is Boston Cream so I can only imagine how good this would taste!!

  9. says

    say you didn't…. you did! love it, love it, love it! on the MUST TRY list! xoxo megan
    beautiful cake!

  10. Erin says

    Yes please! I have actually never tried Boston Cream Pie. I am really going to have to change that soon, this looks amazing!

  11. Claudia says

    Yes, you didn't need to mention that it was good. Your photos say it all. As a die-hard New Yorker who lives in MN – it's just funny where life takes you.

  12. Karen says

    Oh my! I've never been to Boston, but if this is the official dessert, I think I need to book a flight ASAP! This is absolutely stunning and gorgeous!

  13. Baking Serendipity says

    Gorgeous pictures! I have always wanted to visit Boston, but haven't made it there yet. Living in Phoenix now, where it's still 100 degrees, makes it seem like a fantastic alternate city to put down roots :)

  14. Kim Bee says

    Okay, it's final. I need to move down the street from you so I can "pop by" when I smell stuff like this cooking. This is just stunning Carolyn. I am so impressed.

  15. Ali says

    The chocolate looks good been poured on the cream pie. Great photography. Haven't heard of Boston cream pie but wow!! looks so delicious :)

  16. Parsley Sage says

    Boston is one of those cities I've always wanted to visit but haven't made it there yet :) If it's become home to you and yours I'm even more convinced its an awesome place :)

    Great cream pie! Fabulous photos!

  17. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. says

    I love Boston! Great shopping and food! This "pie" looks delicious! You did a great job! I love all that chocolate dripping down the sides!

  18. kita says

    I love talking to my friends about Boston – it is a whole other great north east city that stands out on it's own. I can't believe you had never tried this cake yet!!! I can't imagine a family get together where someone doesn't bring some version of it. Your Boston cream pie looks like it would hit the spot with a nice cup of caffeine right now.

  19. Liz @ Southern Charm says

    Excuse me while I currently wipe the drool from my face. This looks and sounds AH-MAZING!! Love that it's gluten-free too! Can't wait to try this :)

  20. Anonymous says

    Thank you for this delish creation. I can't wait to try it, only my cholesterol is high,can you please suggest alternatives for whipping cream and egg yolks in pastry cream?
    Thank you,

  21. Helene Dsouza says

    I d love to try your boston cream pie recipe, it looks very delicious.
    I could't think if I actualy ever tried or baked an american pie recipe.

  22. Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels says

    I LOOOVVEE Boston Cream Pie and yours looks so incredible! I would gladly eat the entire cake for you. :)

  23. Tiffany says

    Action shots of dripping chocolate = the perfect way for me to start my weekend! Viva la Boston Cream! 😀

  24. Luana says

    The cake recipe is similar to what I use to make shortcake, so I bet it's good.

    This is sure something I want to try!

  25. Jennifer says

    That looks so naughty … but nice!! I can see how the family would all like it so much. Don't worry it took a while before my sons warmed up to low-carb baking. I think they prefer my low-carb and gluten-free baking actually. :)

  26. renate says

    hi there:) just wanted to let you know that I will put you on my list of pages and blogs worth reading! -on my new food blog:) And off course Im a new follower of yours as well all the way from Norway actually- loving your blog and the way you write! Would love for you to stop by my new blog if you feel like it

    big hugs r

  27. Anonymous says

    Hello Carolyn, I need help!!!! I tried to make the cake. It turned out like a heavy semisweet bread with a gummy texture. Is the amount of xantham gum correct at 1 tsp.? As soon as it hit the other ingredients, the batter crawled up the beaters and almost out of my bowl!! The batter was very hard to spread into the baking dish and turned out ugly and lumpy on top. I've messed this up somewhere. Can you think of what I've done wrong?

  28. Carolyn says

    Wow, okay, I am not sure. yes, 1 teaspoon xanthan is correct and that's definitely not the issue here, because that's what I use in ALL my cake recipes and I've never had this issue. Did you alternate adding half the almond flour with the almond milk, and then add the second half? Something seems off here, like you had too much dry ingredients to wet, because the batter should not be that thick, but I don't know why. It just makes me think that some wet ingredient was missing.

    What kind of almond flour did you use? And if this happens again, add more almond milk, by the tablespoon, until you have a more spreadable batter.

    • Jenn says

      My bubbie made this for me today for my b’day and he had similar problems. I think it’s the variation in flours. Some are higher in fibre to total carb ratio that others and that seems to make a huge difference in how quickly the moisture gets taken up. Higher fibre, lower net carb, but also takes up the moisture like a wick. He also had a hard time spreading the batter. But the custard is amazing and while the cake fell when taken out of the over, so it is very very dense, it is also very very tasty! I’d change up the ganache in the future as I found it bitter and heavy, and am thinking I would probably add more sweetener and some heavy cream to thin it out(?) for the next time I make this. Yes, even though there were woes in making, it IS a wonderful cake and we WILL be making this again! Just a bit of a learning curve to low carb baking 😉 Thanks for the wonderful recipes and all your hard work, Carolyn!

  29. Stacy Wade says

    Carolyn – Thank you. We have tried 7 recipes this week in anticipation of my son’s upcoming birthday, and this is by far the best yellow cake recipe. I have a question, though. Have you ever tried replacing the yogurt with sour cream? Just wondering since that would lower carb counts a smidge. With the baking soda, I read that it tempers the “sour” of the sour cream, so I do not think it would alter the taste much.

    • Carolyn says

      I think sour cream would do just fine. What’s the protein count on the same amount of sour cream as the yogurt? Perhaps a little lower, but I think it would still give it good structure.

  30. Catherine H. says

    I chose this for my two year-old’s birthday, and It. Was. Amazing. I have never liked Boston Cream Pie, so I thought making this would help to keep me from polishing it off after everybody went to bed, but not really. I didn’t bargain on how delicious it would be. (I’m still sticking to my diet, but it’s now torture instead of easy–at least until my husband finises the third left in the fridge. He declared this “Winner, winner, chicken dinner,” which is an accolade really difficult to get from him. I liked it warm (the pastry cream, another thing I never thought I liked, is to die for), but the glaze was a little overwhelming. Cold, however, the chocolate flavor calms down and stops crowding out the lovely cream and mildly sweet vanilla cake. It’s like a giant donut, and I’m in love. Thank you. Now my second son is turning four in December–wonder what I’ll make for him . . .?

  31. Kelly says

    Do you think you could use something other than corn starch in the pastry cream? Would xantham gum work?

  32. Lia says

    I have the same question about replacing the corn starch- would “thick it up” work? It is a mix of gums. Thanks!

    • Carolyn says

      Oh boy, no idea. YOu’d have to experiment. Is it a mix of xanthan and guar gum? If so, make the custard the normal way and then put in a 1/4 tsp of the gum, whisk briskly to mix and let cool a bit. If it’s not quite thick enough, you’d need to add more, maybe 1/8 tsp at a time.

  33. says

    Almost two years late, but I just made this bad boy tonight. Holeeeeey crap this is GOOD! The cake was moist and perfect, but it was that pastry cream that seals the deal! I think I could eat it by the bucketful 😉

  34. leslie says

    Hi !!!! i’ going to make the cake but with lemon curd and italian meringue for tomorrow!!!
    i was wondering if I can replace whey proteine by more almonde flour????

    • Carolyn says

      The whey protein makes up for the lack of gluten (which is a protein). More almond flour won’t necessarily make it rise properly, but you can certainly try.

        • Carolyn says

          I am not sure any starches will help it rise. Try a bit of one of them (maybe a tbsp) and then add some extra leavening agent…maybe another tsp of baking powder? I can’t guarantee it!

  35. Judy says

    So many low carb recipes use almond flour, but I’m allergic to almonds…..what would you suggest as a substitution? I know it would be an entirely different recipe to swap coconut flour, but how about another nut flour, or sunflower seeds? This looks heavenly!!

    • Carolyn says

      Is it only almonds you are allergic to? I have a great cake that is made with hazelnut meal…you could try that although you’d probably still taste the hazelnuts a bit.

  36. Judy says

    As far as I know….in trying to reduce my levels of inflammation (just doing low carb/gluten free wasn’t doing it. No surprise, since I reacted highly to almonds, & I’d been doing almond milk, flour…) I’m doing a pretty regimented food testing process. Every now & then I take a day off & thought this looked soooo good. I haven’t tested hazelnuts yet. I will do them soon now! Thanks!!

  37. Cici says

    I’m out of powdered swerve. For the ganache do you think it would be better to powder my own in my coffee grinder or use more stevia? Also, this recipe is about 2 1/2 yes old. Is there anything you know now that you didn’t know then that would make this recipe better?

  38. Cici says

    I finally got the powdered Swerve & made this. It’s FANTASTIC!
    Kept my dessert addicted diabetic mother (& me) happy for a week!
    Well maybe not an entire week, but close! Thanks for helping me show my mother that quality desserts can be made without sugar or flour.

  39. charlotte says

    do you think i could omit the whey protein powder? i’ve used it before in recipes and they didn’t really turn out

    • Carolyn says

      No, the protein powder in my recipes is critical in making the cake rise and hold its shape. You can use powdered egg whites, though.

  40. Kerry Burgstaler says

    I had company that I had never met before coming to our place for dinner (some of our S-I-L’s family), and I usually NEVER make a recipe for the first time serving company.. BUT this looked so fabulous I gave it a whirl and I’m so glad I did.. it is seriously DELICIOUS, moist, rich, chocolatey .. all the YUMS you want in a fabulously ‘show off’ desert! Thank you soooooo much for creating this and your instructions are super easy to follow. The Boston Cream is simply elegantly excellent, the cake is moist and not so sweet that it competes with the Boston Cream which graduates your taste buds to the Chocolate Topping!!

  41. Loretta says

    I made this cake and it was absolutely wonderful. I will definitely make it again. My family had no idea it was sugar free until I told them. They were amazed! I had some trouble with the ganache. It was too hard. Not sure what I did wrong, but will add more cream next time I make it. In spite of the hard ganache, it was a success! Thanks for this recipe!

  42. Lance says

    Hi Carolyn, Can 1 replace the 1 tbsp cornstarch required in the pastry cream with 1 tbsp Arrowroot Starch (Bob’s Redmill) without affecting the result? thanks

      • Lance says

        thanks so very much. forgot, as to the Greek yogurt required in the cake, I regularly eat Fage 2% Greek yogurt. Did you mean the 2%, or is it the full fat or is it the 0%. Excited to prepare this!

          • Lance says

            hopefully last question, I won’t the Honeyville Almond Flour I ordered in time to prep the cake, but I do have Bob’s Redmill Almond Meal/Flour on hand. I know generally you say that Bob’s is only appropriate for muffins and quick breads, but in the instance of the Boston Cream Pie do you this Bob’s will work, or is it an absolute no?

          • Carolyn says

            It’s not an absolute no, but your cake may not rise as much and won’t quite have as fine a crumb – but it will work and will taste great.

    • Carolyn says

      You will want about 1/3 cup in the pastry cream and 1/2 to 3/4 cup in the cake. Then for the ganache, about 1/4 cup powdered sugar.

      • Amanda F says

        Thank you for your quick response! The pastry cream came out amazing last night. I will finish the cake tonight and let you know how it turns out!

  43. Melissa says

    Dear Carolyn,

    Your desserts are sublime. I loved this and high five for the low carb pastry cream…no easy feat! I’d like to use the cake and pastry cream for a low carb version of a layered gateau St. Tropez, flavoring one layer of creme pat with fleur d’orange and one with almond. As the St. Tropes is light, I’d like to try and and mix your creme pat with whipped cream to make it a bit airier. Kind of like a creme mousseline but without the uncooked butter. Do you think this would work? And if so, at what stage would you recommend adding in the whip cream?

    So thankful for any guidance you can give,

    – A huge fan in Vancouver BC

    PS: I so enjoyed your Just Desserts (Kits) story from the Nanaimo Bar post. I have happy early dessert memories from there too!

    • Carolyn says

      I’ve never heard of a Gateau St. Tropez but it sounds phenomenal. I think you don’t want to mix the pastry cream with whipped cream until it cools completely, otherwise your whipped cream will just melt into a gooey mess.

  44. Jenn says

    I am SO making this for my b’day next week! This is my BF’s favourite cake, but he can’t abide by the taste of stevia but is ok with Splenda (yes, I know, I know…but). Could I sub tsp’s of Splenda for the drops of liquid stevia? I know it will increase the count, but I really don’t want to eat this whole cake by myself….or do I? 😉

  45. Emma says

    I made this for my birthday! It came out delicious, but I messed up the baking a bit. A few questions for troubleshooting, please!

    1. When I used the called for amounts of liquid to make the batter, it came out super thick and stretchy (xanthan, whey) like silly putty/bread dough. I added like another 1/2 cup of almond milk to make it more like cake batter. Please add photos of the batter consistency – with low carb baking I find it very hard to know what it should look like without process photos :) I love your recipe writing, it is very clear, but batter photos would help immensely.

    2. I used a 9″ pan and baked at 350 convection for 30 minutes – it got quite brown on the outside and the tester came out moist but clean, so I took it out. It fell and wasn’t thick enough (3/4in) to slice in half, so I had to half it crosswise and stack it. It was very wet inside, like bread pudding. Should I reduce to 325 convection and bake longer?

    I also could tell I didn’t thicken the pastry cream long enough, that I can fix – I was nervous due to failed hollandaise so I pulled it too fast :) Also, my chocolate glaze hardened into… chocolate shell after being in the fridge, making it impossible to slice the cake, LOL! Should I add some heavy cream to it to prevent this?

    Thanks for the lovely recipes as always!!

  46. Patti says

    Carolyn, I made this cake as part of our St. Patrick’s dinner and hubby’s b’day party celebration. It was wonderful. Everyone loved it. Thank you for sharing.

  47. Heather says

    Love your site, your photos, your recipes…coming from someone that has a million food allergies. :) One question, if I wanted to try to sub the 6oz of greek yogurt in the cake, any recommendations (outside of another kind of yogurt). If I used 3oz of non-dairy milk of some sort would it “react” and work the same or would I need to add something else due to the yogurt causing a certain reaction element that I would be missing? (I hope that makes sense). Thank you for being amazing!

  48. Jessica says

    Any chance you’d have an idea how much Sweet Blend to use for the Pastry Cream? Should I just sub out the equivalent to the Erythritol, or the Stevia Drops too? I just ran out of Ery., but have the Sweet Blend and Vanilla Creme stevia drops. Advice?!

    • Carolyn says

      My recipe equates to about 1/2 cup sugar (including both the erythritol and the stevia) so use 2 to 3 tbsp Sweet Blend to match that.

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