I have to say that after the events of this week and a busy weekend - I'm a little bit numb - but I've missed a couple of challenges lately, and I had a good excuse to make this one since we hosted my parents for dinner tonight. We don't cook for them too often, so we wanted to do something nice. They brought steaks, and I made an heirloom tomato salad and some corn - sort of a "last hurrah" of summer. For dessert, we had the bostinis.
I have never made boston cream pie before, but I have always thought it reminded me of a doughnut - with the thick chocolate glaze on the top and custard filling - or an eclair, possibly. Essentially it's a chiffon cake, flavored with a little bit of orange, layered with a custard cream and a chocolate glaze.
I baked my cake in a sheet pan, and cut the rounds out with a knife, which worked fairly well. I am glad I took it out of the oven when I did - one or two more minutes and it would have been dry. We were allowed to substitute in a couple of areas - I didn't have orange juice, but I used orange oil and a little lemon juice - making up the difference in the liquid with 1/2 a cup of milk, and I thought it had nice flavor. The custard was also really good. I used vanilla paste instead of the bean, and I improvised with a mixture of cream, half and half and nonfat milk to make up the whole milk and cream called for, since I could only get my hands on one pint of organic cream at the market and already had the half and half and nonfat milk at home. It worked just fine and I had LOTS left over. (Then again, I only served four and the recipe is for 8.)
The cake layers were about one inch thick, so to plate the dessert, I spooned some custard into the cups, added a layer of cake, more custard, another layer of cake, and the chocolate sauce. (Actually, my mom and I had only one layer - as you can see on the right - but we got the gist of it.) There was double the amount of custard that I needed, but I would have had a hard time getting enough cake out of the recipe to fill eight ramekins.
There was nothing wrong with this dessert, and the chocolate sauce, the cake and the custard were each great on their own, but I'm not sure the dessert was more than the sum of it's parts. In fact, it might have been less. The cake soaked up the liquids and became a bit soggy, and I wasn't crazy about the look of the chocolate poured straight onto the cake. Maybe if it were a bit thicker. James thought the chocolate was overwhelming and suggested the cake and custard would be better with some fresh fruit or berries. It was a LOT of trouble to make, and is one of those recipes that uses up nearly a dozen eggs - 9 yolks in the custard alone.
Regardless, I have nothing but love and respect for Mary, the kind and generous administrator of our Daring Bakers site and pro baker who selected this recipe for the challenge this month. At least it was something that could be completed in a single afternoon, which is more than I can say for some challenges. Not that involved baking projects are a bad thing, but when you're as short on time and concentration as I was today, less is definitely more!