Sunday, December 28, 2008

Yuletide Greetings - This Month's Daring Baker's 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. In France you can buy two kinds of Yule log. The Genoise and Buttercream type is what you usually find over here in North America. What is more commonly purchased in France is a frozen Yule Log very reminiscent of an ice cream cake, only it’s not made of ice cream but rather frozen mousse of some sort. Well, anyone who knows me will understand that a dessert containing creme brulee and mousse would be an instant favourite.

I've got to admit, this month's challenge was the first that brought on a bit of panic when looking it over. However, after reading through each step, I quickly realized that it just appeared cumbersome because of all of the different layers. Each recipe was surprisingly simple to execute. The completed log had to include a dacquoise layer, a feuillantine insert, a creme brulee insert, a ganache insert, a mousse and an icing. We were given complete creative control over what flavours we wanted to include in our French Yule Log. I decided on a walnut-coconut dacquoise, cinnamon-cardamom creme brulee, cinnamon ganache, coconut dark chocolate feuillantine and dark chocolate mousse.

I served it for Christmas dessert and knew that it went over well when my sister (who is notorious for only eating half or her dessert) yelled at her husband for swiping a bite of her piece. For me, that was the best complement I could have been given. She even asked to bring a piece home! Now, that's one successful DB challenge!

Please do not be too intimidated at how long the recipe is. As I mentioned above, each layer is not difficult to make. The most efficient way to complete this recipe is to make the creme brulee layer first, followed by the chocolate mousse and feuillantine insert. Then bake the dacquoise layer and complete the ganache insert. Freeze the log at this stage overnight. The day you plan to serve the log, unmold the log and coat. Return to the freezer until serving time.

French Yule Log

Dacquoise Biscuit
2.8 oz (1/2 cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) ground walnut
2/3 cup toasted shredded coconut
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

1. Finely mix the ground walnut and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds). Add shredded coconut.
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 (8mm).
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Dark Chocolate Mousse
2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
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)

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water.
2. 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. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then 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.

Cinnamon Ganache Insert
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream
A pinch of cinnamon
2.7 oz (75g) milk chocolate, finely chopped
3.2 oz (90g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) 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.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the milk and dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
4. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Coconut Dark Chocolate Feuillantine
3.5 oz (100g) dark chocolate
1 oz (1/3 cup/25g) shredded coconut
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) unsalted butter
2.1 oz (60g) lace crepes or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K

1. Spread the coconut on a baking tray and bake for 5-10 minutes at 375°F (190°C) to toast (a different temperature might work better for you with your own oven).
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Stir until smooth and add the toasted coconut.
3. Add the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Cinnamon Cardamom Creme Brulee
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
2 cinnamon sticks
1 Tbsp cardamom pods

1. Heat the milk, cream, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the 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°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

Dark Chocolate Icing
4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

Assembling the French Yule Log
1)Line your mold or pan with plastic film.
2)Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.
3)Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4)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.
5)Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6)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.
7)Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8)Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9)Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10)Close with the last strip of Dacquoise. Freeze until the next day.
11)Unmold the log and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan. Cover the cake with the icing.Let set. Return to the freezer.


No one asked us said...

That sounds amazing!

Gina said...

Beautiful. Of course. See you soon.

BC said...

Your sister sounds like she has high standards and you exceeded them! Well done.

Gfron1 said...

Beautifully executed! Great job.

Audax said...

WHAT A TASTE EXPLOSION - walnut-coconut dacquoise, cinnamon-cardamom creme brulee, cinnamon ganache, coconut dark chocolate feuillantine and dark chocolate mousse! You really thought about the combinations this must of tasted fantastic!! Great photos also. Yes I had very picky tasters also BUT this is one excellent recipe and all were very happy with this as the dessert. Happy NY to you and your family and friends.

Lori said...

Congrats on your Yule success. It looks great! Dont you love to hear people fight over your creations. Wait that sounds kind of bad, well you know what I mean, right? ; )

breadchick said...

Not only does your log look lovely, the flavor combo sounds fantastic

Jessica Stowe said...

You're amazing!