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Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Buche de Noel

Buche de Noel is my favorite of all time dessert for Christmas Day - or any time during Christmastide. 

First, it's chocolate. Chocolate Swiss Roll (Sponge Cake). Whipped chocolate Ganache frosting. And, chocolate "bark" to make it look like a log.

It is filled with whipped cream so, between the sponge cake, the whipped cream filling and the whipped Ganache frosting, it's also pretty light.

But, I did mention the chocolate, right? 

Still, with all that cream, it might be wise to serve it with a side of Lipitor. 

I'm printing my recipe here because I've been telling folks that the recipe is from The Pioneer Woman. Turns out, the frosting is hers but she doesn't whip it - she drips it over the cake like a "Little Debbie". Which you can totally do, but I think this looks much better. 

The sponge cake is actually her recipe for a Chocolate Swiss Roll, which I prefer. The instructions sound a little intimidating but if you just take a deep breath and act as if you've done this 100 times, you'll be amazed at how well it turns out. 

The bark is from yet another source, which also gives a recipe for Marzipan mushrooms, but that's a bit much, even for me. 

So, here's how I make the Buche de Noel. Except for the recipe for the roll, everything else in this recipe is enough for two logs because it feeds the crowd I usually have at dinner.  The roll only takes 5-6 minutes to bake, so you can turn around and make another as the first one is cooling.

Alas, there are fewer people round my table these days, but I still make two logs. I figure, if you're going to do this much work to make one, you might as well make two - one for Christmas and one for Christmastide when folks come by to visit or drop off a plate of cookies. It's wonderful to be able to offer a slice of this cake with a lovely cup of tea or coffee.

I hope it brings you as much delight as it does for me and my family.



Butter for greasing
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for sprinkling
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted (salted or unsalted)

FOR THE CREAM FILLING - enough for two logs

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE - enough for two logs

12  ounces (weight) chocolate (chips or chopped),I use semi-sweet but the tradition is to use bittersweet. Your call
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

FOR THE BARK - enough for two logs

6-8 ounces chocolate chips or chopped
4 Marischino cherries
Italian parsley or rosemary or basil stalks.
Optional:  Confectioner sugar to sprinkle on top.

Preheat oven to 425. Place a piece of parchment paper or a silicone mat on a 17x12 sheet pan, and rub butter on it to grease.
Combine the cocoa powder, flour and salt and pass this mixture through a flour sifter or fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl.

Bring an inch of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Combine the eggs and sugar in a heatproof glass bowl, then place over the simmering water (make sure the water doesn't touch the bowl). 

Using a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar together over medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the eggs are thick, pale yellow and warm to the touch. If you have a thermometer, you want the eggs to be about 120F. If you don't have a thermometer, just touch the mixture with your finger every once in a while until it feels like hot tap water. *Note: Do not be intimidated by this. It sounds a whole lot worse than it really is. Deep breaths.

Remove the egg bowl from the heat and continue beating at medium high speed for another 3 minutes, until it's thick and airy and has reached the "ribbon stage". That means that when you drag and drizzle a spoonful of the liquid, it shouldn't settle back into the liquid for a good 5-10 seconds. 
Mix in the melted butter. 

Add the dry ingredients to the mixture, and gently fold it into the eggs with a spatula, working quickly. Spread the batter onto the buttered parchment or silicone mat, leaving an inch from the edges. Bake the cake for 5-6 minutes, until springy to the touch. 

Place a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface and sprinkle lightly with cocoa powder. Flip the cake onto the parchment, then remove the parchment or silicone mat that the cake baked on. Gently roll the cake up into a log in the parchment paper while it's still warm. This is like muscle memory for the cake and it will roll easier again later. 

Combine the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl and whip with a hand mixer to stiff peaks, about 5 minutes on medium speed.

Unroll the cooled cake, then spread the cream all over, leave a 1-inch boarder around all edges. Roll the cake up gently (leaving the parchment paper behind), leaving generous room for the whipped cream, then place on a wire rack. If necessary, you may use a bit of the cream to "seal" the seam of the roll. Trim off the ends of the log so that the ends are clean. (This is a lovely treat for all your hard work.)

Pour the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate into a heat proof glass bowl. You may use the microwave or heat the heavy cream on the stove to just before boiling. Watch it carefully - DO NOT LET IT BOIL. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and continue to stir until the chocolate is completely melted and thoroughly incorporated with the cream. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover with plastic or aluminum foil and put into the refrigerator for a few hours until it is very thick. 
Once the mixture is ready, beat it with a hand mixer until it whips up light and fluffy. Note: I always make two logs at a time, so this frosts two logs. You can always use it to frost cookies or brownies or cake. Or, you can cut this recipe in half.

Place the log(s) on a serving plate/platter. Evenly spread a thick layer of the frosting on the top, sides and ends of the log. Don't skimp.

Melt 8 ounces chocolate bits or chopped chocolate in a double boiler. Spread on a baking pan lined with parchment paper to 1/8 inch thick. Put into freezer or refrigerator until it is set. Roll paper to break into pieces. Place on the frosted logs so that it looks like bark. 

Roll marichino cherries in sugar an allow to dry a bit so that the sugar looks like "ice". Garnish log with them (I use two at each end) with sprigs of Italian parsley or rosemary or basil. Keep in fridge, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to serve. 
OPTIONAL: Just before you serve, you may garnish with a dusting of confectioner sugar to make it look like a dusting of fresh snow.