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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Yule Log uh, Trifle

I love me some sentiment, tradition.. and yes, food!  Every year since I saw Jacques Pepin's Buche de Noel  (Yule Log) Christmas dessert years ago.. I have looked forward to making it once a year, every year. Chocolate genoise cake that is light and not too sweet which is then filled with a chocolate mousse (which is divine on it's own), rolled up (like a jelly roll) and then topped with a chocolate ganache icing or whipped cream. And then there are the meringue mushrooms that are scattered around. It is like art project and cake all in one.  It is fun to create, impressive to serve and decadent to eat!  
So, this year.. same as usual.. I have my plotting and plannings.. gingerbread house, sugar cookies,.. whoops! forgot the buche de noel! THE cake of christmas, yep.. forgot it. Lot going on this year, but anyway.. I am not superstitious. Ok, yes I am. Can't leave a kitchen with a cupboard open (people will talk about you), bathroom with the toilet seat up (money will flow out), salt spilled (have no idea, but i can't not do a little spritz over the shoulder).. ok, I'll stop. I am not superstitious.. I just feel the need to do these things just because. That's all I am saying and please leave my neurosis alone. Now back to that damn christmas cake already.  
So, this year I forgot. It's like a day or two after and I am all like, I can't believe I forgot. Well, I did. And then immediately start plotting (yes, I plot a lot) when I can make it before the window of the Christmas season is over!! New Year's day. perfect. life will go on. Yes!
Well, needless to say, my chocolate genoise cake crumbled. In the last 20+ I have made this has never happened... but it did. Hmm.  I won't read anything into that.
Anyway, trying to salvage some kind of yule log yumminess.. afterall, I had a crumbled cake and chocolate mousse, chocolate ganache and fresh whipped cream.. I couldn't think of anything better than to make a trifle. 
It must be a good omen that it's going to be a really, really good year.. coz this trifle was amazeballs. Yes, I said amazeballs. 

Take this recipe in 4 steps. Cake, mousse, ganache & whipped cream.  I like to make the cake and mousse the day before.. then it's just a simple assembly the morning of.  It is better if it can sit at least an hour in the fridge before serving.    None are difficult and pretty easy.
This could totally be made individually in dessert or wine glasses for a dinner party or buffet.. that would be quite lovely. 

Buche de Noel

Step 1. Make the Genoise Cake

Genoise Cake 
5 T. unsalted butter, plus more for parchment and pan
2/3 cup sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
1/3 cup sifted cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 t. instant espresso granules 
Pinch of baking soda
6 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Heat oven to 350º
  2. Butter a 10 1/2-by-15 1/2-by-1-inch jelly-roll pan. Line with parchment; butter and flour paper, tapping out the excess flour.
  3. Sift flour, cocoa, espresso and baking soda together twice into a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Skim off white foam, and pour clear yellow butter into a bowl, discarding white liquid at the bottom. Set aside in a warm place.
  5. In the bowl from your stand mixer, whisk together eggs and sugar. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water; stir until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, and place on stand and whisk on high speed until mixture is thick and pale and has tripled in bulk. Reduce speed to medium, add vanilla, and beat 2 to 3 minutes more.
  6. In three additions, sift flour mixture over egg mixture, folding in gently with a spatula. While folding in last addition, dribble melted butter over batter and fold in.
  7. Spread batter evenly in pan, leaving behind any unincorporated butter in the bottom of the bowl. Tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake until cake springs back when touched in center, 15 to 20 minutes. Don't overbake. Let sit in pan on a wire rack until cool enough to handle.
  8. Dust surface with unsweetened cocoa powder.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  (you can cut into pieces to make fitting in your fridge easier, if needed)
Step 2. Make the Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse
    4 ounces semisweet chocolate
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    4 large eggs, separated
    Pinch of cream tartar
    1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. In a double boiler, melt together chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat, and transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in egg yolks, stirring well. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff. Whisk a third of the whites into chocolate mixture; gently fold in remainder of the egg whites.
  3. Whip cream until it holds soft peaks, and fold into chocolate mixture. Chill until set, at least an 1 hour. 
Step 3. Make the Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Ganache
   1/2 cup heavy cream
   8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips  
   1 teaspoon instant espresso granules
1. Cook the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. 
2.  Set aside at room temperature, til cool but pourable.. stirring occasionally. 

Step 4. Make Whipped Cream
Fresh Whipped Cream 

   1 cup heavy whipping cream
   1 T. sugar

1. Place together cream and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.
To assemble the trifle.. 

1. Tear cake into large chunks and place casually in the bottom of a trifle dish. 

2.  Generously spoon over Chocolate Mousse.

3. With a spoon, drizzle with ganache and then a scant layer of whipped cream.

4. Repeat.. Cake, Mousse, Ganache.  Till you have no more cake left.  (if you have leftover mousse.. enjoy. It's very very good.) 
5. End with whipped cream, generously dolloped on top and drizzle with ganache.

Chocolate shavings would work well here and next time I make this, I just might crumble some meringues as a center layer.  I think the crunch would work well here and I always have meringue mushrooms in the original recipe, so that would be a nice nod back.

*Please note: It is advised.. Raw eggs should not be used in food prepared for pregnant women, young children, or anyone else whose health is compromised.  Mousse at your own risk. 
**Additional note:  Enjoy at your own risk. It is that rich and decadent and delicious.  And pretty easy, too!

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