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Buche de Noel

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar, granulated or powdered
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder

1/3 cup cocoa
1/3 cup margarine or butter softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon hot water

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line jelly roll pan, 15-1/2x10-1/2x1",
with waxed paper or baking parchment (I use King Arthur's parchment
and don't grease it, but do cut it fit the bottom of the pan only;
the sides of the cake are loosened with a spatula after baking).
Grease (and I flour the bottom). Mix flour, cocoa, baking powder,
and salt; set aside.

Beat eggs in small mixer bowl (I do this in the big KA mixer with
the wire beater) on high speed until very thick and lemon colored,
3-5 minutes. Pour eggs into large mixer bowl if using a small one,
and gradually beat in granulated sugar. Beat in water and vanilla
on low speed. Gradually add flour mixture, beating just until
batter is smooth. Pour into pan, spreading batter to corners.
Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 12-15
minutes.

Loosen cake from edges of pan; invert on towel generously sprinkled
with powdered sugar. Carefully remove paper; trim stiff edges from
cake if necessary. While hot, roll cake and towel from narrow end.
Cool on a wire rack for 30-60 minutes.

Beat whipping cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar (more to suit taste),
and the coffee, in chilled bowl until stiff. Unroll cake carefully.
Spread whipped coffee cream filling over cake, reserving about 3-4
tablespoons in a small dish. Re-roll, using towel to help, if
necessary. Cut a piece of the roll from one end, at an angle -
maybe an inch at the narrow part to 2 inches at the wide part of
the slice, and set aside for a moment while you begin to frost the
log (Move the cake to its serving plate before you begin icing the
log.) with the chocolate icing.

Make the icing by mixing the cocoa and margarine, then stirring in
the powdered sugar, flavor, and hot water to a nice spreading
consistency.

Set the waiting slice atop the frosted log - the icing should hold
it in place sufficiently, or use a toothpick if you think you need
to - to resemble a cut branch stub. Ice those sides, too, blending
into the main log part for a realistic look. Use the reserved
coffee whipped cream to cover the ends of the log and the top of
the 'cut branch'.

Now's the fun: Using a fork -- I like one with tines rather apart
-- draw the bark on the tree - just pull the fork through the soft
frosting. Rinse the fork and draw the circular rings on the ends
(the coffee cream), too. Do the final trimming by setting a few
meringue mushrooms at the base of the log, and a couple, perhaps,
on top. Fresh greens around it add to the festive look. Chill
until ready to serve. Cut into 10-12 slices - and be alert for
that toothpick if you used one.

You can also use a bit of green frosting to pipe a vine around the
log and trim with frosting ivy. "The Holly and The Ivy."

This is a pretty impressive dessert and really not difficult to
make. If you want to impress someone, remember this: It's as much
work to make one of these as it is to make two or three -- if you're
going to do three or more, have a plan in place. The Voice of
Experience. Mix the cake rolls one at a time, filling and frosting
can be multiplied. Joyeux Noel!



Meringue Mushrooms

2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Cocoa
Chocolate icing

Cover 2 cookie sheets with baking parchment paper, anchoring, if
necessary with a dab of the meringue when it's ready (this is a
very smart idea). Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in small
mixer bowl (I use my big KA bowl) until foamy. Beat in sugar, 1
tablespoon at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy,
about 5 minutes. Do not underbeat.

Heat oven to 225 degrees. Fit decorators' tube or pastry bag with
plain tip with 1/4" opening. Fill bag with meringue and fold top
of bag to close. Anchor the paper to the cookie sheets with a couple
dabs of meringue. Hold upright and pipe out about 55 (this might
be a bit much, I'm thinking; content yourself with 20-25) mushroom
caps, each 1 to 1-1/4 inches in diameter. Sift cocoa over caps.
Now, this is important: Stick your forefinger in sugar and gently
pat down the peak that's sticking up on all those caps! Bake until
firm, 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately turn caps
upside down and make an indentation in bottom of each cap. (I use
a wood skewer or small knife tip to poke/carve a bit of a hole.)
Brush excess cocoa from caps with a soft-bristled brush. Pipe
about fifty-five 3/4" upright stems on second cookie sheet. They
should have peaks which will fit into mushroom caps. Bake until
firm 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven; cool. To assemble the
mushrooms, pipe a small amount of frosting into the indentation of
each mushroom cap; insert stem and stand to dry. Note: The
caps and stems may be piped onto the same sheet and baked as one
-- faster.)

Store mushrooms uncovered or loosely covered at room temperature.
They'll keep a week or so--at least.

Use the mushrooms to decorate a yule log cake. Extra mushrooms
can be packaged in -- a mushroom carton -- for a special treat.

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