Buche de Noel

I am not French, nor do I pretend to be on TV, but Number One does take French in school and since Christmas break is upon us, it seems as though every school celebrates by having class parties. Hence the French dessert, which I thought was a little much for a teacher to ask of a parent (with only two days to prepare, mind you), and then I realized that Number One volunteered his Foodie Blogger Mom because “None of the other moms could do it.”

Thanks, kid.

This was actually pretty easy. As you can see I did not do the little meringue mushrooms and other embellishments, I simply sifted some powdered sugar over it all to make it look like snow. It is what it is, peeps. I think the hardest thing for me is not knowing how it tasted before I sent it out to  be consumed by strangers. But then again, it is a bunch of teenagers eating it. They like everything. Oh, and one persnickity French teacher. Oh well. This is what you get, Mister.

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On a side note: I did not make the buttercream frosting. I’m sorry but the recipe called for 3 cups of butter!  (That’s like 6 sticks of butter?!!) I am including the entire recipe here for you, but just so you know, cheating with store-bought frosting is perfectly acceptable (especially since I’m not serving this to my family anyway.)

Buche de Noel: Genoise Cake Batter

4 eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup sugar

1 T Grand Marnier (substitute with 2 T orange juice)

2 tsp orange zest

3/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup *cake flour

Preheat oven to 400*. Butter a 10×15-inch jelly roll pan (cookie sheet with 1-inch sides) and line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper or spray it with cooking spray. Set the pan aside.

Beat the eggs for 5 minutes (hope you have an electric mixer!) until thick and foamy. Add the sugar, OJ, zest, vanilla, and salt to the eggs and continue beating for 2 minutes.

Fold in the flour. *If you do not have cake flour on hand you can use this trick. Remove 2 T of all-purpose flour from the measuring cup and replace it with corn starch. Then sift the flour and corn starch together about 5 times to ensure they are combined and the flour is aerated.

Fold flour into the egg mixture slowly by spoonfuls, allowing each addition to incorporate. Do not overmix or the cake with bake up into a tough texture.

Gently spread the batter into the prepared pan. There will be peaks of batter; gently smooth them, but do not press the batter down. Bake for 10 minutes, until the cake is just set. Invert the cake onto a clean dish towel and peel off the parchment paper. Wait 3 minutes and then gently roll the cake, still in the towel (this means the towel is rolled up inside the cake), starting at the 10-inch end. Allow cake to cook completely.

 Chocolate *Buttercream:

7 egg whites

1 1/3 cup sugar

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

1 tsp instant espresso powder

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups plus 3 T butter, softened

In a clean, completely dry bowl, beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Set aside for a moment.

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and 2/3 cup of water to a boil. Allow it to boil until it has reduced into a slightly thickened syrup. Begin beating the egg whites on high-speed again and pour the hot sugar syrup into the eggs in a slow, steady stream. Pour in the melted chocolate, espresso powder, and vanilla into the egg whites and continue beating them until the meringue has cooled completely, about 5 minutes.

Add the softened butter to the meringue. 2 T at a time, while beating on high-speed, until all of the butter is incorporated into the frosting. If the buttercream becomes runny at any time during this process, refrigerate the meringue until it has chilled through and continue the process of beating the butter into the meringue.

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*Now for an excellent cheat! I don’t know about you but that frosting recipe seems a little, oh, what’s the word I’m looking for?….a little bit much? Seriously. Use this cheat.

Go to the store and buy at least 2 containers of whipped buttercream frosting. If you can’t find chocolate, just get the regular and beat some cocoa powder or melted chocolate into it. Viola!

Assemble the Buche de Noel:

Unroll the cake and set aside the towel. evenly spread 2 cups (or desired amount) of the chocolate buttercream on the inside of the cake, and following its natural curve, gently roll it back up. Cut off the ends of the cake roll and reattach them in the center of the cake with a bit of buttercream to fashion a “branch” coming off the main Yule log. (I only cut off one end).

Spread the exterior of the buche de noel with enough chocolate buttercream to cover it and gently pull a butter knife through the frosting to give the appearance of rough tree bark.

Add meringue mushrooms if you are feeling especially crafty.

Chill before serving.

While this recipe appears complicated, truthfully the cake part is a snap, and if you choose to go the buttercream cheat way, you can have a Buche de Noel for your table in no time.

This recipe came from About.com

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