Monday, December 27, 2010

Fashionably Late Buche de Noel

Merry Few-Days-After-Christmas, friends! Did you all have wonderful holidays full of eggnog and stockings and too many cookies and repeated viewings of Elf? I know I did.

I also had an awesome gift from Santa:

How great is that?! I guess he reads the blog! Sweeeet. A sassy shirt is all well and good, but next year I'm going to be dropping waaaay more hints about the VitaMix I'm currently coveting. Ahem.

But back to more important things! Like what I used all the ganache for. I'll give you a hint: it's chocolatey. I'll give you a second hint: it was seasonally appropriate, but now, two days after Christmas, it's woefully unfashionable. I'll give you a third hint: it rhymes with smoosh the po-elle.

If you guessed a buche de noel, you're right!

Most buche de noels, or yule log cakes, are made from a springy sponge or genoise cake rolled around a filling, then decorated to look like yule logs. This recipe was a bit different--and dare I say, much better--because it used a flourless chocolate cake that was more like a baked mousse in taste and texture. It was a little more finicky to work with, but the melting, creamy texture more than made up for a few more minute's work.

The cake was rolled around sweetened vanilla whipped cream, and then covered with simple ganache. I used a spatula and a fork to give it a little texture, and stole a few sprigs of rosemary from my parent's bush to decorate the plate, along with some freshly shredded coconut and fresh cranberries.

And the mushrooms. Let's not forget the meringue mushrooms! What should have been a simple accompaniment was made more interesting by the fact that I baked them on the day a big storm rolled into town, causing the meringues to get spongy and sticky. I was able to assemble about a third of them, held together with the most fervent of hope and the sharpest of toothpicks.

The mushrooms were a wreck by the end of the night, but they held together enough for the pictures, which is the important part. Plus, they're fun to make, even when they collapse in a gooey pile.

In the end it was a huge success. We took slices that were way too big, polished them off, and licked our plates clean. And isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Fashionably late--OR AWESOMELY EARLY FOR CHRISTMAS 2011--buche de noel recipe below!

Buche de Noel
Cake recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible

1/4 cup (50 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (28 grams) granulated white sugar
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces (112 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped in small pieces
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 17 x 12 inch (43x30 cm) baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and then butter and flour the parchment paper.

While the eggs are still cold, separate the eggs, placing the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Cover and bring to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes). Meanwhile melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and cool.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) place the egg yolks and 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about five minutes). (When you slowly raise the beaters, the batter will fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon.) Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add the melted chocolate and beat only to combine.

In a clean mixing bowl, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold a small amount of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture using a rubber spatula or whisk. Fold in the remaining whites just until incorporated. Don't over mix or the batter will deflate. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is puffed, has lost its shine, and springs back when gently pressed, about 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Cover the cake with a clean, slightly damp towel.

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Beat together all ingredients until the cream starts to hold firm peaks, but don't beat so long that it starts to curdle and have a buttery, overwhipped texture.


12 oz good-quality semi-sweet chocolate
1.5 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp softened butter

Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place it in a large bowl. Add the butter on top. Put the cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat and heat until it simmers and bubbles appear along the sides of the pan, but do not bring it to a boil.

Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and whisk it together until the chocolate melts and the mixture is shiny and smooth.

Cover with cling wrap and, ideally, let sit overnight at room temperature to firm up until it is a spoonable consistency, like peanut butter. If you don't have that much time, place it in the refrigerator and whisk it every 15 minutes until it is the texture of frosting. Do not leave it in the fridge too long, or it will get hard!

Meringue Mushrooms

Try my recipe here, or there's also a photo tutorial. Easy, yay!

Buche de Noel Assembly
Once the cake has cooled, spread it with an even layer of the whipped cream. Gently roll the cake, peeling off the parchment paper as you roll (the cake may crack).

Trim one end of the cake at an angle and set it aside. Then place the cake, seam side down, on your serving platter lined with strips of waxed paper. Take the slice of reserved cake and attach it to the top of the cake to resemble a branch growing off the log.

Gently spread the ganache over the outside of the cake. Once it's completely covered, use a spatula or a fork to create waves and texture in the ganache to resemble tree bark.

Finish the buche de noel with meringue mushrooms, powdered sugar or coconut for snow, and optional accents like leaves or chocolate shavings.


  1. I'd go with the awesomely early. They look great!

  2. That's an extremely pretty buche de noel. Definitely one of the very nicest I've seen. And your meringue mushrooms look perfect, despite the challenge they presented what with the stormy weather! I like your t-shirt, too--very cute!

  3. Now that is the prettiest buche-de-noel I have seen. I am too chicken to attempt.

  4. Definitely early! I never got around to making fruit cake for Christmas, so I'm going to bake some in January instead :) Love the log and the mushrooms. Happy New Year!

  5. That looks gorgeous! i think we're in the same time warp, because I did most of my Christmas baking after the big day, and still have more I want to do.

  6. Oh my gosh, the shirt rocks! I think you/he should start mass producing them!
    Love the buche!

  7. What a great gift!! Super sweet, and totally awesome!
    The yule log looks great, and the inside sounds really interesting. I've got to wait almost a year to try it :(