Tuesday, December 30, 2008

French Yule Log -- Daring Bakers December 2008 Challenge

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.

They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

If you recall, the DBers did a yule log last year but this year's yule log is very different. Hilda & Marion explain:

In France you can buy two kinds of Yule log, either the Genoise and Buttercream type that we made last December, or what is more commonly purchased which is a frozen Yule Log very reminiscent of an ice cream cake, only often it’s not made of ice cream but rather frozen mousse of some sort. In French this is called an entremets which is sometimes loosely translated in English as simply a cream dessert. This also means that this recipe is not holiday-specific, it is also just a scrumptious dessert recipe.

And, it *was* a challenge. In fact, looking at this recipe (a frozen dessert in December? with all those steps?) and at all the things I had to do this month, I thought I might skip out.

But I needed an after-Christmas project, and here it was!

We had a bit of leeway in preparing each of the SIX components (you can see the original recipe here) but I opted for:

Chocolate Icing
Milk Chocolate Chantilly
Cinnamon Vanilla Crème Brulée
Dark Chocolate Crisp
Cinammon-Chocolate Ganache Insert
Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)

The order in which the recipe is laid out below is different from the original; it reflects the order in which I made things, and includes a few changes.

I had quite a bit of difficulty with the creme brulee. The recipe advises baking the creme in a water bath for 1 hour at 210-degrees F. After baking my creme that way for an 80 minutes, it still wasn't set. I took it out of the water bath, placed it back in the oven and then, finally, it set up.

Following that, I let it cool and placed the creme, in its mould, in the freezer. The next day, I couldn't get the damn thing out -- the liquid had seeped under the parchment and formed a custard glue, bonding the creme to its mould. So, while still frozen, I divided it into three pieces and popped each section out one-by-one.

The other challenge on *this* challenge was getting an even coating of icing on the yule log. The top came out fine but the sides were patchy ... hence the cookies! What you see above are dark chocolate Piroulines and Jules Destrooper Virtuosos (chocolate covered cinnamon cookies).

And how does it taste? Mmm, delicious. I especially love the cinnamon ganache layer. The crisp layer was a bit too crisp for me; maybe next time I'd use a finely crumbled wafer cookie and spread the chocolate very thin before it sets.

Thank you to Hilda and Marion for throwing down the dessert gauntlet and really challenging us this month! Check out hundreds of other yule logs via The Daring Bakers' Blogroll.

French Yule Log

Element #1 Cinnamon Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert

Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking

Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper

1/2 cup heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup whole milk
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean
4 medium-sized egg yolks
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

1. Heat the milk, cream, cinnamon and vanilla to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the cinnamon and vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the cinnamon & vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210-degrees F for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.

Tartelette says: You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won't matter as much since it will be covered with other things)....BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:
- you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done
- you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better
- it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bath
Now...since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.

5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

Element #2 Chocolate Chantilly

Preparation time: 20mn

Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula

Milk Chocolate Whipped Cream (Chantilly):
(Can be made the day before and kept in the fridge overnight)
2/3 cup heavy cream 35% fat
7.8 oz milk chocolate
2 1/3 tsp (corn syrup
1 1/3 cup heavy cream 35% fat

1. Chop the chocolate coarsely.
2. Heat the 2/3 cup of cream to boiling and pour over the chocolate and glucose syrup.
3. Wait 30 seconds then stir the mix until smooth. Add the remaining 1 1/3 cups cream.
4. Refrigerate to cool, then whip up.

Element #4 Chocolate Crisp Insert

Preparation time: 10 mn

Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or use an empty bottle of olive oil).

3.5 oz (100g) dark chocolate
1 oz. (25g) Special K

1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
2. Add the cereal. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Element #5 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

Note: Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

3/4cup + 1Tbsp almond meal
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 medium egg whites
¼ cup granulated sugar

1. Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioners’ sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2. Sift the flour into the mix.
3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6. 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.
7. Bake at 350-degrees F for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Element #5 Cinammon-Chocolate Ganache Insert

Preparation time: 10mn

Equipment: pan, whisk, stand mixer.

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.

Cinammon-Chocolate Ganache Insert
4 Tbsp granulated sugar
2/3 cup minus 1 Tbsp heavy cream
A pinch of cinnamon (or more, to taste)
2.7 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
3.2 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp unsalted butter softened

1.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.
2. Heat the cream with the cinnamon (use the quantity of cinnamon you want to infuse the cream, a pinch is the smallest amount suggested) until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil. (You can help minimize splattering by creating an aluminum foil "lid" for the saucepan with the caramel. Make a small hole in the foil, top the caramel pan with it, and pour in the cream through that opening.)
3. Place milk & dark chocolate into the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir by hand until smooth.
4. Add the softened butter and beat using the mixer's paddle attachment. The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Element #6 Milk Chocolate Icing

Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)

Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan

Note: Because the icing gels quickly, you should make it at the last minute.


Milk Chocolate Icing
1.5 gelatin sheets or 3g / 1/2Tbsp powdered gelatin
4.2 oz milk chocolate
2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup heavy cream (35 % fat content)
1 Tbsp + 2 tsp. corn syrup

1. Soften the gelatin in 2 Tbsp. cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Coarsely chop the chocolate and butter together.
3. Bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil.
4. Add the gelatin.
5. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until smooth.
6. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gel), use immediately.

Assembling the French Yule Log

Each time you pipe the chantilly, you will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop to get rid of any air bubbles.

1) Line your mold or pan with plastic film.
2) Pipe one third of the chantilly component into the mold.
3) 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.
4) Pipe second third of the Chantilly component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5) 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 chantilly you just piped into the mold.
6) Pipe the last third of the chantilly component on top of the Praline Insert.
7) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8) 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.
9) Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

the order is:
1) Chantilly
2) Creme Brulee Insert
3) Chantilly
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Chantilly -- FREEZE
6) Ganache Insert
7) Dacquoise

Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc...
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.


chef_d said...

ohh nice looking log!

Ruth said...

Your log is beautiful! How was the taste

steph- whisk/spoon said...

this was a challenge indeed, but looks like you rose to the occasion!! happy new year!

Nidhi said...

Hahaha, we're cookie buddies.......cookies save the day! Though I think your log looks really cool!

Madeleine said...

mmm great job! cinnamon, great choice!!! :)

Happy new year!! :)

Hilda said...

HA! Our decorations look similar, congrats on managing to get this done in time, it looks great. Have a Happy New Year!

Elle said...

Very pretty log...the cookies are a great addition. Love the cinnamon - chocolate pairing, too. Lovely!

Tartelette said...

Your log turned out gorgeous! Well done!

Sara said...

Oooh, I love your decoration.. very pretty! Yum. :)

Claire said...

Love the piroullines! My brother would like that. Great job...hope you like it!

Aparna said...

Maybe you used them to hide the patches, but your log looks so beautifully decorated.
Best wishes for a Happy New Year.

Jude said...

Nice.. Have a safe new year!

Natalie... said...

Wow love it!! Like the biscuit decorations mmm!!

mybricole said...

Love the cinnamon twist and of course the cookies are a great addition too!

Maggie said...

The cookies look great! I had trouble with the icing too. I hope it tastes as great as it looks.

madcapcupcake said...

WHAT a gorgeous log!! p.s. I want to bite the doughnut at the top of your page.

breadchick said...

Oh Laura Rebecca! Those cookies are the perfect compliment for the French Yule Log. A wonderful after Christmas project my friend.

Happy New Year!

Jenny said...

The addition of cinnamon sounds divine. Beautifully done!

newlyweds said...

Beautiful, I had the same issue with the creme brulee I baked mine for 2 hours and the last hour cranked up the temp to 350. Great idea with the cookies, I used nuts instead, lol.

veganpower said...

Hi Laura, my name is laura too :)
Ypur buche is so nice too ! Have a new years :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a pretty log! I love the decorations!

Happy New Year!



MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

;) finally I see somebody else found that creme brulee took FOREVER. I think my baked for 3 hours. Crazy.
Love the look of yours!

jillian said...

I love the cookies! Beautiful!

Holly said...

I like the addition of cinnamon and the cookies are a clever decoration!

Faery said...

Oh I LOVE the piroullines ;). Your yule log looks really delicious and beautiful.
Happy new Year!

BC said...

That was great trouble shooting for the sides of the cake by adding cookies. They were a little harder to "plaster" smoothly. But it is absolutely gorgeous!

Baking Soda said...

Such a nice looking log! Ingenious solution for the sides. I had the same problem with the icing.

Namratha said...

Nicely decorated!

Olga said...

Love the decorations: you can never have enough chocolate ;)

Snooky doodle said...

wow this looks nice! i love the addition of the piroulines on the side makes it look so sophisticated:) must have been so yummy :) Happy new year!!

Sugar Chef said...

Nice job on your log. Those chocolate covered cinnamon cookies look delish. I changed my creme brule recipe to one using all cream. The one with milk takes forever to thaw and is icy rather than creamy.

linda said...

I had the same issues with the creme brulee :) but was able to get it out of the mould with force without breaking it.
You did a wonderful job covering up the sides with the cookies, looks pretty!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

It turned out great!!! I like how you decorated too and with cinammon creme brulé I sure it was great!

Laurie said...

I love how you used the piroulines! Your yule log is beautiful.

Dharm said...

Great Log! That Creme Brulee took a looong time for me too. Nonetheless, it was a great challenge!

Bria said...

Great job! It looks delicious!