This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge was a dessert I'd never heard of before: Bostini Cream Pies. Our host, Mary from Alpineberry, explained, "Bostini cream pie, like the name implies, is a twist on the traditional Boston cream pie. The dessert is vanilla custard topped with an orange chiffon cake and then drizzled with a chocolate glaze."
I think of it as a "special occasion" dessert -- rather involved, very decadent, extremely impressive and, naturally, delicious. The custard is unbelievably creamy with a luxuriously silky mouth-feel. The chiffon cake is bright and zesty with orange and while light and airy, it provides an excellent counter note to the custard and darkly rich chocolate sauce.
The recipe below yields "8 generous portions" but, because we threw a Halloween Dessert party this past weekend (more on that later) I wanted smaller individual portions as part of a dessert buffet. To that end, using the same proportions below, I baked the chiffon batter in a mini cupcake pan (this took about 12 minutes to bake), and put the rest of the batter in a 9-inch cake pan, baked for about 22 minutes, and then sliced into small square pieces of cake after the cake had cooled. (If I had to do it again, I would bake the chiffon only in the cake pan; I think the slightly larger size of my cake pieces stood up better against the custard and chocolate.)
Because this dessert is so rich, I think it lends itself to smaller portions. That way, you can savor each of the decadent components yet not be overwhelmed by size of the dessert.
Incidentally, I made the custard on Wednesday evening, the cakes Friday afternoon, and the chocolate sauce minutes before the party started Saturday afternoon. Everything came together beautifully.
Food at a Halloween party has to have an appropriate name...
Bostini Cream Pie
(from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala's Bistro)
Makes 8 generous servings
3/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 whole egg, beaten
9 egg yolks, beaten
3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean (EDITED: vanilla extract is okay)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3 to 4 yolks)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter
To prepare the custard:
Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl; blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into 8 large custard cups. Refrigerate to chill.
To prepare the chiffon cakes:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray 8 molds with nonstick cooking spray. You may use 7-ounce custard cups, ovenproof wide mugs or even large foil cups. Whatever you use should be the same size as the custard cups.
Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat.
Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Fill the sprayed molds nearly to the top with the batter.
Bake approximately 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the cakes from the molds. Cover the cakes to keep them moist.
To prepare the glaze:
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate and stir to melt. Pour through a strainer and keep warm.
Cut a thin slice from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place a cake flat-side down on top of each custard. Cover the tops with warm chocolate glaze. Serve immediately.