Daring Bakers Challenge: Teeny Bostini

October 29th, 2007

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One of the best aspects of being in the Daring Bakers is learning about new recipes you’ve never heard of or might never have thought of trying. This was the case this month, when our host Mary of Alpineberry unveiled our challenge: her favorite recipe for Bostini Cream Pie. This dessert was actually created in San Francisco by Donna Scala and Kurt Baguley of the Bay Area classics Scala’s Bistro and Bistro Don Giovanni. A twist on Boston cream pie, this recipe consists of a zesty orange chiffon cake in a pool of velvety vanilla custard, drizzled with a deep chocolate sauce. Every spoonful is pure creamy luxury in your mouth, a perfect comfort dessert for the cold winter months.

Since the recipe components were fairly straightforward and Mary gave us free reign to assemble them as we pleased, this was an opportunity to get creative with our plating techniques. My first thought when I looked at the fluffy cake, the pale yellow custard, and the rich dark chocolate was that this could be one of Pierre Hermé’s Emotions, those little test tubes in which gustatory delight are alchemized into museum-worthy perfection. I decided, what more elegant way to show off and contrast the various elements of the Bostini than layered in a glass?

Although the Emotions are presented in wider, rounder, glasses, I went with smaller, narrower vodka glasses because I liked the idea of displaying them all on ice, just like shots of vodka. Indeed, with a glass this small and narrow, you almost want to "shoot" the entire dessert at once – or at least make sure there is an appropriately tiny spoon handy!

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It’s not necessary, of course, to use shot glasses – be sure to check all the other Daring Bakers to get some other very creative and lovely takes on this recipe – but you should try out the recipe at least once, as I really loved the combination of flavors and textures. The only thing I might do differently next time is to bake the cake in a smaller pan; I spread the cake batter out in a half sheet pan and cut out circles for the glasses from it, but it wasn’t quite thick enough to get the depth I needed so I ended up having to layer several cutout circles. I probably should have used a smaller pan so it would have baked up thicker in the first place. Nevertheless, the cake was wonderfully light and moist, and the orange was a nice tart note to balance out the richness of the custard and the chocolate. Thanks Mary for giving the Daring Bakers another fun challenge!

Bostini Cream Pie
makes 8 generous servings
Custard:
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
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

Chiffon Cake:
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

Chocolate Glaze:
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.

To assemble:

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.

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