Sunday, December 27, 2009

Yule Loggin'......

We were blessed to be able to share in Melinda's Christmas eve tradition and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with 30 of her friends and family!  She always makes Lobster di Frivolo, which is a time honored tradition in her family.  It is, by far, fabulousity at its best!

I had been doing alot of "surfing" about the delicious treats we'd find in Paris and came across lots of information about the Bouche de Noel (Yule Log), which is served on every French table at Christmastime....I'm told not having one is equivalent to not having a turkey at Thanksgiving!

I was concerned that we wouldn't get the opportunity to enjoy this tradition since we are arriving in Paris after Christmas, so I decided to make one to take to Melinda's house for Christmas eve.  At first, I was overwhelmed with the recipes, but after doing considerable research, I realized this was something I could do IF I put all else was worth the effort.

The Bouche de Noel is a genoise cake (sponge cake) with chocolate mousse or buttercream inside and covered with chocolate ganache.  It is light, fluffy and a little rich, but not too much!

My end result looked "okay".....but there are changes I would make.  I thought my genoise cake was too dry, so I've updated the recipe to add more moisture.  I also didn't think I had enough chocolate ganache to completely cover the log, so I'm doubling the recipe the next time.

So, without further ado, here is the process that I followed (with updated recipe):

The first thing you need to do is prepare your sheet pan by spraying with Pam, the cover with parchment paper, which I buttered and coated in sugar (it's something I learned from Mom and it really does keep the cake from sticking).

The next thing you need to do is beat the eggs.....the recipe I had called for 4 eggs, but I think you'd do better with 4 eggs and 2 egg yolks.  You'll need to beat them for 5 to 7 minutes until they are thick and pale and have doubled (or tripled!) in bulk.  Then I added my sugar (3/4 cup), 1 tablespoon at a time, then add 1 tablespoon of good quality vanilla.  Take the bowl off the mixer and fold in 3/4 cup of sifted cake flour, 1/4 cup at a time. 
Then drizzle 5 tablespoons of melted butter (cooled a little) and carefully fold that in.  Pour the mixture into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes....make sure it doesn't overcook....that's when it really gets dry!

While that was cooking, I started making my chocolate mousse filling.  I used Martha's recipe, which can be found here.  You start by melting the chocolate (semi-sweet) in a glass bowl set in the top of a pot with water at a slow simmer. 
Then you wisk in the egg yolks and set aside.  Put the egg whites in the mixer with the cream of tarter and whisk until they have stiff peaks.....fold in about a third of them to the chocolate mixture, then fold the rest.  Clean the mixer bowl and beat the heavy cream until it holds soft peaks and fold that in....then set in the fridge to chill for about an hour. 
Don't forget that cake in the oven!!!

Once the cake came out of the oven, I spread a clean dish towel over the counter, sprinkled with confectioner's sugar and turned out my cake onto it....make sure you loosen then edges of the cake from the pan first!  Then, using the towel to help, roll up the cake and let it cool.  Now for the ganache!

This part is EASY!  Again, I used Martha's recipe, but I suggest doubling won't need it all, but it will give a better coating than what I had. 

Chop up the bittersweet chocolate into pretty small pieces, then heat the heavy cream until it just comes to a simmer.  Pour the cream over the chocolate, let it sit for about 5 minutes, then whisk to blend.....set it aside to chill and get back to that cake! 

Time to fill it!  Carefully unroll the cake and spread the chilled mousse over the top to about an inch from the sides and bottom.....roll.....back to the fridge!  Once it's chilled, cut off about a 6 inch piece and trim the ends at an angle.......coat the larger piece in ganache, add the smaller piece, then coat that with the ganache and VOILA.....Bouche de Noel! 

You can decorate it any way you like.....from what I've seen on the internet, France has gotten quite creative with the ones they make now....most don't even resemble a log!  At the last minute I decided to brave making the meringue mushrooms.  They were also easier than I thought....but make LOTS....some just won't turn out quite right!

Again, I admit that I was a little intimidated at first....ok, alot intimidated.  But I'm glad I did was delicious!  I still hope that there are still some in the windows of the boulangeries in Paris.  If so, I'll let you know how they taste! 

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