Monday, December 15, 2008

Buche de Noel - Yule Log

This is my favorite time of the year! Everyone is in such good spirits, town squares and shops are decorated. It is getting cold and we are all waiting anxiously for snow, although here on Cape Cod there is seldom any snow for Christmas, but we keep hoping!

White or green, Christmas is a time for decorating the house, inside and out, a time for shopping and party-hopping!

Christmas is also a time when I spend many an hour in the kitchen!!

On Christmas Eve, we usually have a late light dinner of Smoked Salmon over Blinis.

The feast is on Christmas Day! We might have an appetizer of more smoked salmon, with blinis if there are any left, otherwise on pumpernickel bread. We then have Duck Breasts, also known as Magrets, with Pomegranate Sauce, and a side of Mushroom Risotto.

And for dessert, the famous French "Buche de Noel", or Yule Log. It is a cake shaped as a log, filled with a cream and covered in a chocolate ganache. The log is then decorated to look like a real wood log you'd find in the woods. I sift powdered sugar over it for snow and decorate with small meringue mushrooms to give it an authentic look!!!

It seems like a lot of work and I will not lie, it does take some time to put it together. But the result is really worth it!!

Buche de Noel
Yule Log

Cake (Genoise):
6 large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
12 Tbsp sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 Tbsp

Vanilla Mousse:
3 dl milk
3 dl heavy cream, or whipping cream
100 g sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean
2 tsp gelatin powder (10g)

Chocolate ganache:
8 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
300 g heavy cream
50 g butter
5 cl liqueur (your choice!)

Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 15x10x1 - inch jelly roll pan, or a cookie sheet. Line the bottom with parchment paper, allowing a 1-inch overhang on the short sides. Butter and flour the paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the Cream of Tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add 6 Tbsp of sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/3 cup cocoa powder and the remaining 6 Tbsp of sugar until thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 of the egg whites to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining whites. Gently spread the batter in the prepared pan.

Bake the Genoise until the cake springs back when you press the center, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan the rack and let cool completely.

Unmold on a slightly humid kitchen towel. Peel off the parchment paper.
Sift remaining cocoa powder over the cake and roll tightly, lenghtwise. Set aside.

Make the vanilla mousse:
We start by making a "Creme Anglaise", or vanilla custard.

In a heavy medium saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla (cut lenghtwise and scraped), and half the sugar. Stir frequently to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

In a small bowl, mix the gelatin with a couple of tablespoons of the warmed milk. Stir to dissolve.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, mix the remaining sugar and the egg yolks until light and fluffy. Add half the warm milk mixture; stir and return to saucepan.
Cook over medium low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until thickened, or temperature reaches 85 degrees Celsius.
Remove the vanilla bean, add the gelatin, making sure there are no clumps. Let cool.

Finishing the mousse:
In the chilled bowl of an electric mixer - whisk should be chilled as well - whip the cream until stiff peaks form (you have now mastered a Chantilly!). Add it delicately to the custard.
Set aside while you get back to the cake!

Slowly unroll the cake and spread delicately the vanilla mousse on top. Roll the cake back. Cut a piece of the roll at an angle, about 3 inches. Place the bigger cake on a serving plate and place the short piece angle side touching the big cake. It should look like a real log. Set aside in a cool place.

Now prepare the ganache:
In a medium heavy saucepan, heat the cream. Add the chocolate, butter and liqueur. Whisk and remove from the stove. Let cool, whisking regularly. The chocolate mixture should thicken.

Finish the Buche de Noel:
Spread the chocolate ganache over the cake. With a fork, draw lines lenghtwise to make it look like a log.

It is ready and just needs decorations!!!

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