Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Post-Christmas


What will you be doing on December 28th?

I've been spending a good part of my day throwing furtive glances around me. As I write this, I have one hand digging into a box of quince candied fruit squares (called pâte de fruit in France) because I just couldn't stand thinking about them anymore.

In front of me are three bowls. One is filled with lychees, and the other two are piled high with chocolate. If I round the corner near the fireplace, I head towards the cookie box. The kitchen is the riskiest zone in the house. You'll wish you were Shiva and had many more hands than you do now, just so you could dig into the box of candied chestnuts, the gingerbread house, caramel marshmallows, and a giant Toblerone all at once. I guess maybe I should put multiple arms on my Christmas list for next year.

Now, let's imagine you wanted to get a little work out by climbing up the stairs. Watch out! In my room are the contents of my Christmas stocking...more chocolate.

Some would say I'm living in paradise, and I pretty much agree. I must be dreaming, though. I think I need an extra chocolate just to make sure this is all real. Then again, my friends, this is Post-Christmas: time to eat vegetables, limit yourself to five chocolates a day, and stop putting your Christmas presents into piles just to look at them over and over again.

Who am I kidding? I do that with my Christmas presents all year long. I hope you had a wonderful holiday; I know I sure did. The days after Christmas make some people sad, but the only reason I can think of is that there's no more chocolate yule log left.

In France, the chocolate bûche is a classic--and usually my Maman's thing. I was always a big eater of bûche, but never tried my hand at making one until this year. And since I would rather eat something good than completely failed on Christmas day, I only did half of the work and teamed up with my Maman for the rest.

This would make a great dessert all throughout the holiday season, so if you're looking for a beautiful way to end a meal, give this recipe by the esteemed Jacques Pépin a try. It's tasty and light, so you'll be able to polish off the bowl of chocolates afterwards.

Sounds like a plan I would stick to.

Chocolate Yule Log
from The Art of Cooking by Jacques Pépin
serves 10 to 12

for Jelly Roll Cake:
8 eggs, separated
2/3 c. granulated sugar
1 TS vanilla
2/3 c. flour

for Chocolate Pastry Cream Filling:
3 egg yolks
1/3 c. granulted sugar
2 TB cornstarch
1 TS vanilla
1 1/2 c. milk
5 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces

for Rum-Chocolate Ganache:
4 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 TB dark rum

for Decorations (optional):
1/2 tube marzipan
food coloring

Make Jelly Roll Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.

Beat 8 egg yolks, 2/3 c. sugar and vanilla together until very fluffy and smooth, approximately 1 minute. Add flour and whisk until smooth.

Beat egg whites until firm. Fold yolk mixture gently into whites.

Butter a parchment paper-lined jelly roll pan (12 x 16 in). Spread cake batter evenly on top.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Cake will deflate as it cools.

Make Pastry Cream: Beat egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla together.

Meanwhile, bring milk to a boil. Pour boiling milk into yolk mixture, whisk, and return to saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and boil for about 10 seconds. remove from heat.

Add chocolate and stir gently until chocolate is melted and evenly distributed. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Assembly: When the pastry cream is cold, spread it on top of the cake (with parchment paper still underneath cake). Lift up the cake using the paper and roll it on itself. Wrap in parchment paper and refrigerate overnight or up to one day.

Finish Log: Cut off both ends at an angle--these ends will be used to make the "stumps" on top of the log.

Make ganache: Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Place cream and rum in a bowl and pour melted chocolate on top. Whisk for 15 to 30 seconds until mixture lightens slightly in color. Do not overwhisk, which would cause discoloration and hardening of the ganache. 

Coat cake with a small layer of ganache. Place "stumps" on top. Continue coating with ganache and using a fork, create a bark effect.

Optional: Using marzipan and food coloring, make marzipan leaves and mushrooms to place on log.

Refrigerate until serving. 

Print this post


Eleni said...

that looks so good! i'll have to make a bouche noel with my mommy next year instead of just buying one from the bakery here! maybe we should practice it over the summer or something--the recipe could be too hard to leave too close to xmas! ;)

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

Your bûche looks beautiful and is perfect (wow, for your first time helping out).

Enjoy your chocolates and Christmas goodies ;) Your bowls of lychees and chocolates sound dreamy.

Paris Pastry said...

Stunningly gorgeous!!! The wood looks so real! Maybe next Christmas I'll have the courage of making a bûche de Noel myself. For now, I'm enjoying looking at yours! Sounds like you had a delicious Christmas.

Sook said...

Love the shape of the cake!!

grace said...

i would agree--there's no better time than now to make a glutton of oneself...as long as you can still right yourself in a few days. :)

Mary said...

That is a masterpiece. It is really gorgeous. Let yourself enjoy the abundance around you. The New Year will soon be upon us and there will be plenty of time for vegetables. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Reeni said...

What a beautiful log! One day I shall try my hand at making one too. I hope it turns out half as good as yours!

Anonymous said...

How cute it this log? You did a faboulous job! It looks so yummy!! :)

Lucie said...

Thanks everyone! More collaborative mother-daughter cakes to come...

Gloria said...

I love this look amazing! gloria

Seo Services said...

nice ....

Seo Services said...

nice ....