Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chocolate Vanilla Buche de Noel

Another Christmas, another Buche de Noel, or Yule log.
This year I have mixed a couple of past recipes, improved on the buttercream, and was pretty good!

Chocolate Vanilla Buche de Noel

Serves 12

For the cake:
6 large eggs
1/4 tsp cream of Tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder + 1 Tbsp

Vanilla buttercream:
5 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
1/3 cup water
1 lb butter, cut into cubes, room temperature

Chocolate ganache:

8 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
300 g heavy cream (1 1/4 cup)
50 g butter (1/2 stick)
5 cl liqueur (your choice!) - I used Scotch for this recipe

Prepare the vanilla buttercream:

Combine the egg whites and 1/3 cup of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean - you can keep the empty bean in your sugar container. The sugar will take in the flavor for your next dessert recipe!

Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil until a candy thermometer reaches 238F to 240F, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and use within 2 minutes.

While the sugar is getting to desired temperature, whisk the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. the mixture will be slightly opaque.

Increase the mixer speed to high and slowly pour in the hot syrup down the sides of the bowl and beat until meringue forms stiff peaks. Let cool to 100F. Do not beat.

Start beating meringue again on medium speed and add the butter, gradually. Make sure butter gets incorporated completely before adding more pieces.

Continue beating until smooth.
If the buttercream gets curdly or appears broken, reheat slightly and beat again).

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.

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, but not become too hard. 

Assemble the Yule Log:

Unroll the cake and dust with cocoa powder. Spread the vanilla buttercream evenly on the cake and, using the towel as an aid, roll the cake lengthwise (this time the towel should not be inside the cake!!).
When rolled, cut about 2 1/2 inches off both sides, diagonally, and place one piece on top of the cake, slanted side down, and the other on the side, slanted side against the main body of the cake. This should look like a wood log!

Spread the ganache on the cake, in an irregular fashion, and decorate with meringue mushrooms and other Christmas decorations.

For the buttercream, if the meringue has not cooled enough, the cream will become runny. Place the bowl on a bag of ice cubes and whisk; it should regain proper consistency.

It is a good idea if you like the biscuit a little more moist to brush it with an aromatic syrup (sugar and water and a liquor) before spreading the filling.

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Fall calls for pumpkins! Everyone has a great pumpkin pie recipe... What else can we do with pumpkin, besides carving it? Try these muffins! They are great, and kids love it too!

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

4 apples (Honeycrisp or Granny Smith), diced small
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 bag fresh cranberries

1 1/2 cup (200g) flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/2 cup (75 g) brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (120g) room temperature
1/2 15-oz can pureed pumpkin (75g)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp pumkin spices (I mixed nutmeg, cinnamon and ground clove)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder (optional)
2 large eggs

Mix together the apples, cranberries, sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Line the muffin pan with paper cups and spray with baking oil.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine the flour, brown sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer set with the whisk. Beat until mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside 2/3 cup of this mixture for the topping.

Add the pumpkin, sour cream, sugar, spices, baking soda and baking powder (optional) to the remaining flour mixture and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until well incorporated.
Add to the apple cranberries bowl and mix to incorporate the fruits evenly.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle with the reserved topping and bake for 25 minutes, checking after 20 minutes with a toothpick.

Remove from the oven and let cool and enjoy!

You can freeze in zip loc bags. Remove from bag and microwave for 1 minute.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pork Roast with Carrots and Potatoes

Season changes....Menu changes!!! As the leaves keep coming down, so do the temperatures. Nothing warms up the house like an oven full of a promising dinner!
This one is easy and quick to prepare. Then just let it do its magic in the oven.

Pork Roast with Carrots and Potatoes

Serves 5

One 4lb-bone in pork roast (make sure it has at least 5 chops)
3 lbs potatoes, washed and cut into 1-in pieces
6 carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
6 garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp Herbes de Provence + 1 tsp for the roast
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Make a few incisions in the roast and insert slices of garlic in the cuts.
Salt and pepper the roast evenly all over.
Set aside.

Place the potatoes and carrots in a large bowl. Add the olive oil and the Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Transfer to baking dish.

Place the pork roast on top of the vegetables (fat cap up), sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp Herbes de Provence.

 Bake at 450F for about 15 to 20 minutes, until top of the roast is slightly golden.

Reduce the oven to 350F and cook for another hour, or until the internal temperature by the bones reaches 160F for medium, or 165F for well done.

Serve and Bon Appetit!!!