28 October 2007

Daring Bakers and the Bostini Cream Pie

After lurking a bit and finally deciding that I wanted to be a part of something brilliant, I joined the Daring Bakers, a group that takes on a pastry/baking challenge once a month.

This month's challenge (hosted by Mary at Alpineberry) turned out to be Bostini Cream Pie. (It differs from the original by being served individually instead of as a giant cake (orange chiffon instead of the typical vanilla or butter cake, by the way), and the custard is thinner and not as thick as in the regular version.) I must admit, this was my reaction upon reading it was custard-based:
"Upon seeing the recipe for the first time, visions of failed custards (in the shape of people, read: runny, unset bowls of custard with eyes, noses, and mouths, twig arms and legs dancing in circles with the custard sloshing around on account of it not being set properly -- of the past danced in my head, laughing..."

Right... So it goes without saying that I was more than a bit scared at the idea of making it.

As you can tell (you can't? Hang on, I'll explain the picture!), the custard is thick and creamy, but not uber gelatinous to the point where you poke it and it has a hole that doesn't fill in when you remove your finger. There were some minor lumps and I'm not sure why. I think I tempered the egg mixture properly, and I did strain it. What's really odd, however, was that it didn't have a texture of lumpiness, like tapioca somehow made it's way into my custard, it was just smooth. It was a bit eggy for my taste, though.

No, I forgot to run my finger down the middle to prove that it coats the back of the spoon -- in my case, the spatula. But believe me, it did. I just put this picture up to show you my shortcomings because if you look closely enough, you can see the aforementioned lumps.

The first is a picture of the chiffon batter. (I forgot to snap one before I put the batter into the pans, and before I stuck the pans in the oven.) It was kind of billowy and very light, with hints of orange (tangerine, actually, but it practically tasted like orange). The recipe said to whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, and if anything freaks me out as much as custard, it's whipping egg whites (followed by folding the eggs whites into the batter). I think these were whipped properly, but maybe it wasn't... and maybe I deflated it when I folded the egg whites into the batter... Whatever it was that I did, it didn't seem to rise much higher than the level it was at when I split the batter between to 9-inch pans. (The recipe did say to fill the molds nearly to the top, which I didn't, so perhaps the rise wasn't noticeable except that some of the other DBers' pictures proved otherwise. Which leads me to the conclusion, maybe it's me.)

The batter was supposed to be baked in ramekins, but not having any meant I would bake it in two pans and cut out circles. I chose a scalloped-edged round cookie cutter. There were enough circles to give two to each five servings, plus a few extra for snacking -- not to mention the scraps!

The texture was spongy, moist, not crumbly, and it was "kissed" with an orange flavor.

The best way I could think to properly show off the greatness was in mini goblets. A custard layer came first (which was allowed -- I'm so nice! -- to set in the fridge for a while prior to layering), then a cake round followed by some melted bittersweet chocolate with butter, then I repeated the cake/chocolate step and added enough chocolate to fall a bit down the edges in a star pattern (which impressed some people, actually!)

The servings spent the night in the fridge.

For presentation and to dress it up for the pictures, I topped it with shavings of tangerine peel. Besides the prettiness factor, it added an extra burst of orange to each bight.

The chocolate hardened to form a shell. It was the cause of this:

It sank like Titanic, the spoon being the iceberg. But I digress...

The chocolate-orange combination is one of my favorites, which made this dessert a win-win. The warm feel of the chocolate was contrasted nicely by the coolness of the chilled custard, and the sponginess of the cake upped it to a third degree -- creamy custard, hard chocolate pieces, spongy cake. (Side note, I didn't notice the egginess as much when combined with the other components.)

The only part I didn't quite like was the heaviness. Even though I halved the recipe, the custard contained nearly two cups of heavy whipping cream and 4 1/2 egg yolks plus half a whole egg. I didn't measure the custard amounts per serving, though I figure there was 1/2 cup per serving, which may or may not have been a large amount but I don't know. The chocolate itself aided in the heavy factor, so after a few bites I had a heavy feeling in my stomach. This is best eaten spaced out over, at the very least, half an hour.

All in all, my first challenge with the DBers was a success and I cannot wait until November to find out what I'll be paranoid about next!

While you're at it, click the link for the Daring Bakers' Blogroll on the side and check out how the others' faired.

The recipe below is for the whole version. I cut it in half and it still came out well. If I remember correctly, half of 3/4 cup is 1/3 cup, and half of 1/3 cup is 2 Tbsps. and 2 tsps. For the 1/3 tsp, I used 1/8 plus half an 1/8 tsp. I'm not sure how correct that was but I figured it was close enough.

Bostini Cream Pie
(from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala's Bistro)
(makes 8 generous servings)


Custard (pastry cream):
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

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.

(What I did: I greased and lined two 9-inch round cake pans with wax paper, greasing the tops of the paper also. I baked it for 25 minutes, as the recipe said and it came out nicely -- somewhat firm on top (it passed the fingertip test) and just starting to pull away from the edges. After cooling as per the recipe, I then cut out circles with a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, and I didn't slice the top off to create a flat layer. I also chilled the goblets overnight. You can do that without the chocolate glaze, pouring it over each portion just prior to serving if you want to make this ahead of time but don't want a hard chocolate shell.)


  1. congratulations on your first challenge! i agree that it was a bit rich, but i enjoyed it nonetheless.

  2. Congrats on your first challenge! Your bostini looks great in that glass -- it really shows off the dessert. And you're right about the richness...It's probably the most guilty I've felt eating a dessert.

  3. Great job on your first challenge! Your bostinis look beautiful!

  4. Congrats on a successful first DB challenge! Your custard looks much thicker than mine- well done!

  5. Hi Christina,

    Your bostinis look so good. The chiffon with a hardened shell is serendipitous! I think I will try that next time.

    You commented on my chiffon's rise, and I wasn't able to take a picture, but they did sink back slightly (about 15% loss in height... still high, but a flatter, not domed top). I was told that inverting them in the pan while cooling will prevent that from happening.


    Julius, the Occasional Baker

  6. I also really like the look of the hardened shell. Congrats on getting your first challenge done, and it's a good thing you do run as much as you do because this one was a rich, heavy killer of a dessert!

  7. Steph - Very enjoyable and a great induction into the DBers!

    Kellypea - I'm glad I remembered I had the glasses! I was thinking about what I could serve it in and not knowing exactly what it would be, but I knew it had to be glass.

    Anne - Thanks!

    Pille - I used a thermometer to gauge when the cream was close to the boiling point -- it started boiling a bit under 212 ˚F (100 ˚C), though there are variables, I suppose. Anyhow, briefly while tempering the eggs, I took the pan off the heat so it wouldn't overflow, then when I put the egg mixture back it, it thickened almost instantaneously. I was a little worried but it turned out fine!

    Julius - Thanks for the tip!

    Annemarie - I told myself it was super-fuel. I think I was right, too!

  8. It looked perfect. And yer, very rich. Yummy though.

  9. I Love chocolate shells. It looks wonderful. Congrats!

  10. great job on your first challenge!! It looks great : )

  11. The chocolate does set up really quickly, but it's delicious either way. Great job!

  12. Oh my goodness...your little custard people are so funny...very cute, in spite of the fact that they were not friendly custard people! And look how beautiful your Bostinis looked after all was said and done! :-)

  13. Great job! I think I would bake the cake in a pan and then cut out shapes the next time just for some variety. I agree that it was quite rich, and I made small servings. Congrats on your first challenge, and welcome to the Daring Bakers!

  14. Great job on your first Daring Baker Challenge! I love the idea of letting the chocolate sit in the fridge overnight and make a chunky crust!!

  15. The custard (and everything else) looks great to me!

  16. Welcome to DB! I think yours looks absolutely brilliant!

  17. I think this is great for small portion since everything is really rich... :) congratulations on the first challenge!

  18. well done on your first challenge, Christina! And you can always go for a run to get rid of all the eggs and cream :)

  19. Great job, they look perfect!
    You needn't have had any pastry cream anxiety it looks great-congrats on your first DB challenge.

  20. Great job on your first challenge!! It looks wonderful!

  21. Very nice bostinis! Great job on the challenge :)

    jen at use real butter

  22. great job on your first DBer challenge! It looks amazing!

  23. Those glasses make for an awesome presentation! I love the drawing too...looks like me when I do maths...my brain turns to mush!! Congrats on your first challenge!

  24. Welcome to the daring bakers! Well done!

  25. Lovely Bostini, your chiffon looks airy in the picture. Can't wait to see what the next challenge will be either, hopefully nothing to be paranoid about ;)

  26. Christina, fantastic job. Your post was extremely fun to read. I'll be checking back to read about your future baking escapades!

  27. Great job! I love your presentation!



  28. Your Bostinis looks great. Welcome to the group!

  29. I like your drawing :)

  30. I loved reading about your first DB challenge experience! Your bostinis looked wonderful.

  31. Great job! I enjoyed the chocolate more when it hardened.

  32. Megan - Thanks! It was quite rich but equally as delicious.

    Valerie - Some of my family's favorite part was the chocolate shell. Thanks for commenting!

    Brittany - It was a great first challenge, two of the components something that I hadn't really gotten the hang of. A great experience!

    Anita - Yes, I noticed that when I started pouring the glaze on top, right after it finished melting, it wasn't as runny as I thought it would be and needed help from my spoon to spread it.

    Belinda - A result of staying up late! But hey, some of my best work happened as a result of staying up late... Not that Mr. Evil-Custard-Dude is great work...

    Andrea - I did like the variety of cutting out the shapes how I wanted. If I made this again, I'd buy even smaller glasses to serve them in.

    Breadchick - Thanks! I got the idea for the hardened shells from Tina's (the kitchen kitten) early post on the DBers blog.

    Susan - Yes, that was the part I was most worried about but it ended up being easier than I thought.

    truffle - Thanks!

    anh - I agree. I definitely wouldn't have been able to eat one of the generous servings had I made them larger!

    inne - Yes, my run the next day was pretty good, actually! Super-fuel!

    gabi - This definitely has given me more confidence for the next time I make a custard. Thanks for stopping by!

    deborah - Thank you!

    jen yu - Thanks, and thanks for reading!

    April - It was a great induction into the DBers. Thanks!

    tartelette - I think my brain rather did consist of mush at that point!

    dagmar - Thanks! I'm glad to be a part of such a wonderful group.

    Linda - For not appearing to rise much, it did have a lovely airy texture.

    Don't worry, you, others, and I can be paranoid together if the next challenge is even more intense than this one!

    icook2live - Thank you! You have a great blog, too. I love the π reference!

    Rosa - Thanks! I wasn't sure how to plate these until I remembered about the glasses down in my basement. I'm glad they got some use, finally!

    Mary - I'm glad to be a member. Thanks!

    Maryann - Thanks!

    kitten - Thanks for stopping by! I have enjoyed reading about everyone else's experience, too.

    claire - Thanks! It did add another dimension of sorts to the dessert!

  33. ooh, I like the hardened shell idea! I might steal that!!

  34. It looks absolutely delicious. It's good to know you liked it. well done on your first challenge :)

  35. Great, absolutely great job! My chiffon muffin dunk sank like the Titanic too but I'm pretending to be Kate Winslet and I'm working with a soupy custard.

    I have a very bad case of custard envy.

  36. Ya know, my custard was slightly lumpy too even thought I strained it. Very odd indeed.

    Congrats on your first challenge, you did a fantastic job. They look great in the goblets!

  37. Congrats on your first DB challenge and your race finish over the weekend.You must be feeling really good! Looking forward to seeing your future DB challenges.

  38. ooh, i like the idea of a chocolate shell!

  39. You did a wonderful job on your first challenge. Lovely presentation. Welcome to the DBers!

  40. Your Bostinis turned out looking very nice! This first month being a DB'er was a lot of fun. Can't wait for November's challenge.

  41. Nice job on your first challenge! I like the little custard cartoon!

  42. Your Bostinis look really good. My custard did not set to the point where it could hold its own shape either but it tasted great anyways.

  43. Congrats on your first challenge!

  44. Actually, I like that the chocolate hardened to a shell. Pretty cool!

  45. HAR!! You are quite the artiste! I love your drawing.. heheeee!

    Your bostini is another one that makes me wish I had some in the fridge right now. I should have put mine together and put it all back in the chill again.. that hardened chocolate is looking SO GOOD right about now!

    Excellent first challenge!! I can not wait to read next month's.. to see how your paranoia is. heee!


  46. Your Bostini turned out fabulous, Christina! You jumped in on every step and did it even though you had reservations. . .YaY! BTW, I also loved the idea of the glaze hardening in the refrigerator. Well, our first DB Challenge is done and I think it was a total blast. =D

    Shandy (Pastry Heaven)

  47. the caked crusader - Steal away!

    Anne - Thank you! I had a great time making it.

    bc - You aren't alone, I have a bit of chiffon cake envy!

    Slush - What's even more odd was that it didn't taste any bit lumpy at all.

    Thanks, I remembered the goblets the day before I made them!

    glamah16 - Thanks, I was very stoked about the race! I almost wish I had some Bostinis left for post-race celebration!

    Abby - Thanks!

    sheltie girl - Thank you! I had a little difficulty with taking pictures because the glass did strange things because it had a slight swirling pattern on it, but they came out great.

    Elisabeth - Thank you! And I can't wait for November either!

    Kevin - Yeah, after reading the posts I found that the custards fell into three categories: Very set, thickly set, runny. Diverse results but each worked out.

    Carrie - Thank you!

    Marias23 Thanks! The chocolate pieces add another dimension to the dish, I thought.

    lis - My paranoia will be seen through whatever strange drawing I come up with next! =D

    Shandy - Thanks! I've come to develop a no reservations approach because I usually mess up if I'm too cautious. Somewhere, subconsciously, I figure I know the correct way to do it... That's what I keep telling myself!

    Yes, I cannot wait for November. Maybe it'll be something I can make for Thanksgiving!

  48. Christina,

    Thanks for visiting us! Yes, we use the Moka pot, it is great! Unfortunately we only use for company now as we got the Breville espresso machine - after 3 weeks in Paris last year we needed good espresso, daily! As well, we used the Moka in Paris on an electric stove and it was just fine! Here is a link for the one we like! http://astore.amazon.com/chezdenietlau-20/detail/B000CNY6UK/105-2610782-1490048

  49. Chez denise - Thank you very much! An espresso machine is out of the question for me at the moment, so it's good to know you've had success with the moka pot. I might just put it on my Christmas list!

  50. Haha, I'm glad your custard wasn't as scary as you'd feared! I really like your scalloped cake rounds! It's a fun plating, top to bottom. Congratulations on your first challenge!

  51. Well done and welcome to the group!

  52. Julie - Yeah, the most fun was the plating, I had a great time deciding how to do it and which angle to take the pictures.

    Dharm - Thank you!

  53. If your custard was like mine, then you got lumps 'cause of uneven heating in the pan - at least, that was my guess. Looks great, though!

  54. Great job on your first challenge! They look great!

  55. Why was it odd that your custard wasn't lumpy like tapioca? I think it looks good! This custard wasn't meant to be the really thick kind anyway. I agree that the star pattern of the chocolate over the cake looks nice, and topped with tangerine peel even better! And the fact that the cake sunk into the custard was a benefit (to me anyway), because I thought the whole thing tasted better the next day after the custard had time to soak into the cake.

  56. DaviMack - Oh, thanks! That would makes sense because either the pan was off to one side, though still on the burner, or it's the fact that there's a slight tilt in my house.

    Amy - Thank you!

    Eatme_delicious - I thought it was odd because I kind of expected the lumps to be noticeable when I ate the custard. I didn't want it to be lumpy, though. It set nicely and was thick without being runny or Jell-O-like (which is fine when I'm eating Jell-O, but not what I want for a custard).

  57. I had an extra serving which I stuck in the fridge...the chocolate hardened too and it became like some divine snack food...I'd like to try using the custard as a filling for the cake and coating it all in the chocolate then chilling it! :)

  58. Congratulations Christina... beautiful Bostini. I LOVE your "star" presentation. Welcome to the group!

  59. Sorry about the Titanic moment...but you did a lovely job.

  60. Great stuff on this challenge! Looks great!


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