Almost boston cream pie: light cake with a cool custard filling hits the spot

Sometimes nothing can satisfy you like a favorite comfort food, and Boston cream pie certainly falls into that category. Fitness-minded women deserve comfort foods, too, but we prefer those that are less likely to derail our physique goals. Making a lighter version of this delicious dessert proved a little tricky because typically there’s a science behind getting a cake to rise, and removing all the fat and sugar can ruin the balance. This recipe manages to keep the chemistry and flavor of the full-fat original while significantly reducing the guilt.

The traditional Boston cream pie uses sponge cake as the base; unfortunately, it uses a lot of egg yolks. I could have used an angel food cake recipe instead, but that seemed too far from the original. I compromised here with one yolk, which allowed for some color.

Sweetening the cake took a couple of attempts. I wanted to reduce the calories by using a non-nutritive sweetener, but too much of it gave the cake a chemical taste; just one-quarter cup was the right amount. The first time I altered the recipe, I didn’t take the cakes out of the pans right away and they shrunk to the size of pancakes. Don’t waste a second removing them to a cooling rack after baking. Parchment paper makes it much easier and saves a few calories from oiling the pans.

The filling was another challenge, and my first try using a sugar-free, fat-free instant pudding mix was unacceptable. Again, this had too much of a chemical taste. I finally decided on a filling that mixed an “eggy” taste with real rum, creating a Bavarian cream of sorts. I sacrificed calories by using real sugar but the taste was significantly better. Nondairy whipped topping acts as a thinning agent and mellows the flavor a little; spread this when the cake is completely cooled or the custard will absorb into the cake. This recipe doesn’t use all the prepared custard, but you could slice the cake into another layer or top the cake with more custard, then garnish with shaved chocolate.

The simple glaze can be made even sweeter with more Splenda or sugar; I think the slightly bitter taste is a good contrast to the sweet cake and custard. This dessert is best served chilled and makes a great summer treat. Sliced oranges or strawberries go well with it and boost the overall nutritional value. Be sure to cover the cake securely or it will dry out in the refrigerator.



  • 1 whole egg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Splenda sweetener
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. cake flour
  • 9 egg whites
  • 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two 8-inch-round cake pans with parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat the whole egg until light yellow and foamy. Add sugar, Splenda, vanilla, milk, salt and half the flour; mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff, then stir in baking powder. Fold egg-white mixture into flour mixture. Gradually stir in remaining flour, about one-quarter cup at a time.

Pour batter into cake pans and bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The tops of the cakes should be golden brown. Immediately remove cakes from pans and cool completely before assembly.


  • 1/4 pkg. Jell-O custard dessert
  • 3/4 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 Tbsp. dark rum
  • A cup fat-tree nondairy whipped topping

Bring custard mix and milk to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Refrigerate about five minutes, then mix in nondairy whipped topping. Chill. The custard should be the consistency of pudding.

Chocolate glaze:

  • 1 -oz. square unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 2 Thsp. powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Splenda sweetener
  • 1 Tbsp. light margarine
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


In a small saucepan, melt chocolate over low heat, then stir in remaining ingredients. Be careful not to heat the chocolate so much that it burns. Add enough water to achieve a nectarlike consistency.


Spread about a half-cup of custard filling onto one layer of cake (use remaining custard for another dessert). Top with second cake. Spread glaze over top and let drizzle over sides. Makes eight servings. Per serving: 234 calories, 9 g protein, 52 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat, 0.5 g fiber

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