In Italy we use the English word dessert to indicate the course served at the end of a meal. From the dictionary I learned that dessert comes from the past participle of the French verb desservir, which means to clear the table, from des- (indicating removal) and servir (to serve). It is indeed true that we clear the table to make room for eating vessels and implements needed to enjoy the parting dish.
The title of this post is my translation of Mary of Alpineberry's choice for this month Daring Bakers' challenge: Bostini Cream Pie. Make sure you read the recipe for this sumptuous dessert and use the Daring Bakers blogroll to guide you to look at the masterpieces that were made this month around the world by my fellow darers.
According to my English-Italian dictionary, the word chiffon refers to a type of fabric and also (in America) to a dolce spumoso e leggero, a base di albume d'uovo (light cake made with egg whites). The creamy portion of the dessert was mostly made of cream (panna), plus some milk and lots of egg yolks (tuorli), and its consistency was quite fluid, even with the addition of cornstarch (amido di mais). In Italy we usually make crema with milk only. If there is no thickener, we call it crema inglese, and if we add flour we get crema pasticcera. When we add panna montata (whipped cream) to crema, the result is crema Chantilly. The glaze was made of cioccolato amaro e burro (bittersweet chocolate and butter) in equal parts.
The challenge for me was finding the time and space to make the recipe right after coming back from a three-week trip to Italy and while packing the house for an impending move (in two days'). The other part of the challenge was to get the right cooking and eating vessels for the dessert. The recipe, and Mary's additional notes, left a certain degree of freedom in this respect. I made a trip to the Sur La Table store in Berkeley to get what I needed. I ended up buying a rather irrational mix of things: an adorable set of four small loaf pans and three sets of four custard cups of different shapes.
For messy me, damage control is always a good part of the challenge of cooking and this time was no exception. The first batch of crema went to feed creatures living downstream, when I realized I had overstepped the fine boundary between ready and impazzita (literally gone mad, in this context means curdled) due mostly to my insidious multi-tasking bent. I was quite sorry about the mishap, because I had used all my vanilla sugar to make the ill-fated custard.
The second attempt was successful and I filled all the 12 small vessels with the aromatic hot crema. Making the orange-flavored chiffon cake was molto divertente (a lot of fun). To match the motley crew of custard vessels, I chose to bake the mini-cakes in the four small loaf pans and in the six large muffin tins I had. The little crisis came when I realized I had more batter than containers ready to accept it. Be creative, I said to myself. I grabbed two English muffin rings and a loaf pan and proceeded to empty the bowl of batter into the space delimited by the rings. The 12 mini-cakes of various shapes had the graciousness of cooking pretty much all in the same time frame, the 25 minutes specified by the recipe.
There is no way that a two-person family like ours can eat 12 portions of torta chiffon con crema alla vaniglia e glassa al cioccolato, so I decided to have a little dessert party, for which I gathered around our outdoor table the nice people who were doing various works around our soon-to-be-sold house. This, however, occurred after my husband, who is the manager of my quality assurance department, gave his seal of approval to the first completely assembled portion.
Many thanks to Mary for hosting the October challenge. By the way, I have had some of the chiffon cake by itself and it is delicious, so if you do not feel like executing the recipe in all its parts, make just the cake and you will be glad you did.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
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