The buche de noel is new to me, it contains lots of little surprises nestled inside a delicious chocolate mousse, then encased in a chocolate ganache icing.
I got to work on each component, making a creme brulee, rice krispy layer, almond daquoise, and then a chocolate mousse. I was happy to try using agar for the first time, and I'm pleased to say it seemed to work very well. I'll be using that again, and I'm very happy to have a gelatin alternative.
The log set up very nicely, I think it worked well freezing it then keeping it in the fridge for about 6 hours before serving. I think I would even put it in the fridge the night before serving, so that the creme brulee layer isnt frozen.
I made all the components pretty much as the recipe dictated and it was incredibly rich. I think it might have been nice to lighten up some of it, maybe a white or milk chocolate ganache icing or insert as the dark chocolate was very overwhelming.
I served it at work and everyone was very impressed and it was fun to see all the components all neatly organised! I'm very happy I tried this dessert, it was just the sort of tricky challenge I needed after all my fondant and cakes recently.
Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)
Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking
Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper . Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.
Ingredients: 2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal 1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar 2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour 3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites 1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
- Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar.
- Sift the flour into the mix.
- Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
- Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
- Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
- Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
- Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
- Let cool and cut to the desired shape.
Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse
Preparation time: 20mn
Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula
1 tbsp agar flakes
3/4 cup water
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water 50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
- Boil the water with the agar until the flakes are all dissolved.
- Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. Melt the chocolate with the cream (microwave works best for me)
4. Whip the remaining cream
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the agar solution, mixing well. Stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe. 6. Add in the rest of the whipped cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.
Keep in fridge until ready to use.
Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert
Preparation time: 10mn
Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.
Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened
- Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
- While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
- Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
- Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.
Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert
Chocolate Crisp Insert
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) unsalted butter
1 oz caramel syrup
1 oz. (25g) lace crepes or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K
- Mix the caramel with the marzipan and butter in a saucepan and heat until bubbling. Cool slightly, then add the chocolate and stir until melted.
- Add the rice crispies Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
- Spread on parchment paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.
Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert
Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking
Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper
Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...
1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
- Combine milk, cream and vanillar.
- Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
- Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
- Spray your mould with oil (I used a loaf pan). Pour the cream into the mold, place in a water bath and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
- Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.
Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing
Preparation time: 10 mins
Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan
1/2 cup heavy cream
6oz dark chocolate, chopped
- Heat the cream until just starting to boil.
- Add the chocolate and stir until melted.
1) Line mould (loaf pan) with cling film
2B) Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
3B) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
4B) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5B) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
6B) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
7B) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8B) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
9B) Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze overnight, then cover with icing, then freeze. I took it and placed in the fridge for about 6 hours before serving.