This dessert from Donna Scala and Kurtis L. Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni was the hands-down winning recipe for 1996 -- maybe for the entire 20 years. The Food and Wine staff enthusiastically dug into the individual desserts, and then the fun began. "Awesome!" "Terrific!" "Over the top!" and "Wow" were some of the comments. "This is the best thing I have ever put in my mouth!" A few people giggled. Spoons were licked clean and there were smiles all around. One word of advice, however: The portions are large; you may want to share one with a close friend.
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
The Orange Chiffon
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup extra-fine sugar
11/3 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 vanilla
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
The Chocolate Glaze
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter
INSTRUCTIONS: 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 chiffons: Preheat the oven to 325°. 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.
Per serving: 1,170 calories, 15 g protein, 75 g carbohydrate, 93 g fat (50 g saturated), 561 mg cholesterol, 275 mg sodium, 2 g fiber.