Swan song Boston cream pie

This dessert was inspired by two things: my friend and (sadly, now ex-)coworker Christine, and Boston, the city I have come to love in the past four years, but had to part ways with. Christine and I would often talk about Boston, because she’s wanted to go for quite some time. Additionally, her nickname at work for a little bit was “eclair girl”, because she once brought eclairs over for a bake sale. When you really think about it, an eclair and Boston cream pie have a lot in common: some kind of pastry, a custard filling, and a chocolate glaze. I wanted to incorporate both Boston and eclairs into a dessert that really symbolizes the concept of moving forward, but cherishing the moments we have.

For this dessert, it’s a Boston cream pie, using layers of brown sugar-brown butter chiffon cake, Colombian coffee bavarian cream (hey, if Boston is the inspiration, you need to have caw-fee in there, right?), salted dark chocolate glaze, and a pate choux swan with a basic chantilly cream. I wanted to do a pate choux swan because pate choux is used both for cream puffs and eclairs, so the swan, when eaten with the rest of the cake, literally would taste of a coffee eclair. I garnished the dessert with butterfly pea tea sugar shards, which were meant to resemble waves or ripples in a pond (I used the tea more for the color than the flavor). The presentation was meant to resemble a swan making waves, something Christine will do in the hospitality industry since she got a promotion, hence why she left our workplace to begin with.

For the chiffon cake:
2/3 cups all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons unsalted butter; browned
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
4 egg whites
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup brown sugar; packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Whip the egg whites with baking powder, vanilla, salt, and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar to stiff peaks. Whip the egg yolks with the remaining sugar to ribbon stage as well. Slowly add in 4 tablespoons of the browned butter to the egg yolks while whipping to not break the emulsion. Sift the flour. Fold everything together. Use the remaining 1 tablespoon of browned butter to line two 4 inch springform cake tins. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool completely before removing from their tins. Level off the tops and slice the cakes in half.

For the bavarian cream:
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons gelatin + 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Colombian coffee powder
1 cup heavy cream
a pinch of salt

Bloom gelatin. Whip egg yolks with sugar. Melt down the water, gelatin, and coffee together with salt. Temper eggs with coffee reduction and whip over heat until the mixture thickens. Pass through a strainer. Allow to cool to room temperature. Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks. Fold into the egg mixture.

For the ganache:
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk
a pinch of salt

Combine ingredients and melt over a double boiler. Keep tepid for assembly.

For the pate choux swan:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg

Combine water and butter and bring to a simmer. Once the butter is fully melted, add in the flour. Stir to form a dough. Allow the dough to cool before adding in your egg. Whip into a glossy batter. Transfer 3/4ths of the batter to one piping bag, and the remainder into another. Pipe three 1 inch-diameter cream puffs onto a parchment sheet tray using the majority of the batter and then pipe the swan heads using the remainder. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes, and allow to cool in the turned off oven for 4 minutes before removing.

For the chantilly cream:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

Whip together to stiff peaks.

For the sugar shards:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butterfly pea tea flowers
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
a pinch of salt

Brew the tea into the water. Once the water reaches a deep blue, remove the flowers and add in the salt, syrup, and sugar. Reduce to about 300 degrees F. Pour onto a parchment sheet tray and allow to cool completely.

Line the springform cake molds with parchment, making sure to have the parchment be at least 4 inches above the tops of the molds. Press one layer of the cake into the bottom and add in 1/2th of the bavarian cream. Top with the other half of the cake, and the chocolate. Do the same with another cake. Allow both cakes to set in the fridge. Cut the cream puffs in half, cutting the tops in half again to form wings on the swan. Pipe in the chantilly to the bottom of the cream puffs and top the cake with the swans. Finish with the shards of butterfly tea sugar.

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