In past years when Weston has joined us for Christmas Eve dinner, we’ve gotten a chocolate cake from Costco to serve for dessert. That’s just too rich and large for us this year, and I’ve always wanted to try a Buche de Noel (especially since Brad’s family spent time living in France), and this is the year to do that. We’ll get chocolate cake, but a lighter version. After looking at several different variations, this is the one I’m going to try, but without the mocha flavoring. We’ll see how it goes!

the Pinterest version

 

Apparently the authentic versions call for meringue mushrooms, but I like the idea of cranberries and rosemary better.

NOT a Pinterest fail!


Buche de Noel

for the cake
4 eggs yolks and whites, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

for the filling
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the frosting
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tablespoons softened butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 425° and line a 13 x 18″ baking sheet pan with parchment or wax paper. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Drop the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk on high speed for about 2 to 3 minutes, until wet, soft peaks form. Set the whites aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until they’re pale yellow. In a separate, smaller bowl, sift the cocoa powder, cake flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to the egg yolks and sugar. Stir to combine.

Add in half of the egg whites and use a rubber spatula to gently fold the whites into the batter. You don’t have to be extra gentle at this point since you are merely trying to loosen up the batter with the egg whites. Now, add the remaining half of egg whites and, this time, be VERY gentle when folding the whites into the batter with your spatula; make light, long folds.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and use your spatula to gently smooth out the batter. Don’t tap the pan or move the pan side to side – you don’t want to ruin the air bubbles you created with the whipped egg whites. Bake the cake for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the cake springs back when gently pressed by the tip of your finger. Let the cake slightly cool in the pan for 2 minutes – but no longer.

Meanwhile, prepare a light tea towel by sprinkling powdered sugar all over it. [Note: I saw somewhere to mix cocoa powder with the powdered sugar, which I did – 1/8 cup cocoa power to 1/2 cup powdered sugar.] Flip the cake out onto the towel and very gently peel the wax paper off inch by inch. Grab one of the short sides of the cake and roll it towards the other short side, rolling the towel with it as you go. Let the cake remain in this rolled shape until it’s completely cool. (Note: It’s important to do this while the cake is still warm as the cake is still flexible at this point and this prevents the cake from cracking or tearing as you roll it).

Meanwhile, [I did this a couple of days later], create the frosting by adding the chocolate chips, butter, and vanilla extract to a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream over medium-low heat until it’s hot but not boiling (the edges should begin to simmer and steam should rise from the cream). Pour this hot cream over the chocolate and contents in the bowl, then use a spoon to stir the mixture together until it’s completely smooth. Cover the bowl with a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes – no longer. [Note: realizing that this was basically a ganache, or even hot fudge, I was leery it would turn into frosting. It took about an hour of chilling before it was no longer liquid, but it worked!]

While the frosting chills, whip the heavy cream on high speed for one minute. Add in the vanilla and the powdered sugar and continue to beat until the cream is thick like frosting.

Unroll the cooled cake and spread the whipped cream all over the surface. Gently roll the cake back up just like you did before (minus the towel), with the seam side facing down.

Take a sharp knife and cut off a 2 inch slice from one end of the cake, cutting at an angle so that one end of the slice is 2 inches and the other end is closer to 1 inch. Take this slice and place the side of it that isn’t cut/exposed and attach it to the main cake log somewhere near the middle of the log.

Use a hand mixer to beat the chilled frosting for 15 to 25 seconds, until it’s nice and creamy and frosting texture. Don’t whisk any longer than that as it’ll ruin the frosting. Use a rubber spatula to smooth the frosting all over the cake log and it’s side stump. It’s preferred that you don’t use an offset spatula as the rubber spatula leaves nice streaks that make the cake look more like a log. Take a fork and run it down the length of the cake log several times. Adorn the cake with cranberries and rosemary for a more festive look.

Carefully combine the three different mixtures, pour into prepared pan and bake.

 

Invert pan onto prepared towel (makes a lot of dust!) then remove wax paper.
Roll up with the towel.

 

When fully cooled down, unroll, fill with whipped cream, and reroll (without towel).
Place on platter, cut off a piece and attach on side if desired.
Beat the cooled frosting, for just a few seconds until fluffy, and frost. Decorate as desired.

If this version doesn’t catch your fancy, maybe one of these will, just remember that any decorations are supposed to be edible.

Bon Appetit

MyRecipes (complete with video)

 

 

Jacques Torres and Serious Eats
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