Now say that twelve times real fast after after one too many glasses of Champagne!! These Yule Logs are the desserts I served the family on Christmas dinner and between the 12 of us there were barely enough left for a midnight snack! I did not intend to double the work and make two "just" for fun but between the ubber chocolate fans and the "I ate too much but I still want dessert" peeps, and for my sake of a stress free meal where everybody was happy, I knew that making two was a necessity. Interesting how I belong to both groups...Let's face it, it's dessert, it's mousse, it's chocolate and it was delicious!
It was also the dessert chosen by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux for the December Daring Bakers' Challenge: a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand. I loved the traditional cake Yule Log we made last year but this entremet version suits me perfectly...if there is mousse and creme brulee and anything contrasting in texture such as a layer of crisp or feuillantine....I am coming running!!
I loved that even with the rules laid out to make a log filled with 6 different components, we still had plenty of room to use our favorite combos and flavors. Each log had to include a dacquoise layer, a feuillantine insert, a creme brulee insert, a ganache insert, a mousse and an icing. Yes...both my logs have 7 components...Again, not trying to be special....just playing with aesthetics and visuals by splitting the mousse component in two and flavoring differently.
The dark chocolate Yule Log had hazelnut dacquoise layer, a milk chocolate feuillantine, a milk chocolate and chesnut mousse, a vanilla mousse, a chestnut creme brulee, a dark chocolate ganache and a dark chocolate icing.
The white chocolate Yule Log had an almond dacquoise, a white chocolate feuillantine, a raspberry mousse, a a vanilla mousse, a Meyer Lemon creme brulee, a white chocolate ganache and a white chocolate icing.
Because I was working with two logs at the same time, (and getting Christmas together) it was easier for each log to make the vanilla mousse recipe, divide it in half and add milk chocolate and chesnut puree to one part and do the same for the other log adding pureed raspberries to half the mousse. I used the traditional French gavottes for the feuillantine part in the chocolate log as the recipe stated but I ate too many (!) to have enough for the other one so I subbed with cereals like I had done in the Poire D'Eve cake last month. The chesnut puree was from a can sent by mom in one of her care packages and the Meyer lemon addition to the creme brulee in the second log was a last minute addition after a neighbor gave us a couple....but I can't ever turn those down!
I also went very DIY with the inserts and molds (just ask Lisa, she's got pixel proofs!). The rounded vanilla insert in the chocolate log was creating by pushing a foil covered pvc pipe down the chocolate-chestnut mousse, freezing that part and then taking the insert out, brushing the ganache on and then filling it with the vanilla mousse. The mold was a traditional French loaf pan I brought with me when I moved here...a girl's gotta have her necessities, right?!!
The rounded mold for the white chocolate log was made by cutting an aluminium foil pan and molding it around a wine bottle and setting it in the bottom of another loaf pan. The mousse set up was created by using another foil wrapped pvc pipe but a foil wrapped paper towel insert-roll thingie works the same. Since I did not have the right size of rhodoids sheets used to line up the loaf pans I cut sheet protectors (you know the ones used to protect your important documents during presentations) and used them the same way...but plastic wrap works just as well.
For the sake of keeping this post to less than a mile and not losing your attention too long, I am only writing down the instructions for the chocolate log with the changes I made in italics for the raspberry one.
Chocolate Chesnut Yule Log:
Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly.
2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) ground hazelnuts
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 hazelnuts 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)
Sift the flour into the mix. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff. Pour the hazelnut 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.
For the raspberry log I used almonds instead.
Vanilla Mousse: (divided in half before the end to add the chocolate and chesnut)
2/3 cup (160g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
2/3 cup (160g) whole milk
1 vanilla bean
4 medium-sized egg yolks
3 oz (6 Tbsp / 80g) granulated sugar
3 Tbsp (25g) cornstarch, sifted
4g / 2 tsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
1 cup (240g) whipping cream (35% fat content)
Pour the milk and 2/3 cup cream into a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean halves into milk and put the vanilla bean in as well. Heat to boiling, then turn the heat off, cover and let infuse for at least 30 minutes. Then remove the vanilla bean. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until white, thick and fluffy. Add the cornstarch, beating carefully to ensure that there are no lumps. While whisking vigorously, pour some of the milk into the yolk mixture to temper it. Put infused milk back on the stove on medium heat. Pour yolk mixture back into the milk while whisking vigorously. Keep whisking vigorously until mixture thickens considerably. As soon as the mixture starts to boil, leave on for only 2 more minutes. (The recipe says you should remove the vanilla bean at this time but in the interest of no one getting burned, that can be done after you take the pastry cream off the stove.) Add the gelatin and let it melt completely, stirring once or twice. Divide the batter in two equal parts.
For the milk chocolate-chesnut variation: add 1/4 cup melted milk chocolate and 1/4 cup chesnut puree to one half of the cream.
For the raspberry log: add 1/2 cup pureed raspberries to half the cream.
Whip the 1 cup whipping cream until stiff and add gradually to the pastry cream. Blend delicately with a spatula.
Dark Chocolate Ganache insert:
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream
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.
For the white chocolate ganache insert: change the chocolate and skip the butter, proceed the same way.
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline (or bring 1/2 cup of sugar to an amber caramel and spread it on 1/2 cup almonds and ground until fine)
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K
Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.Add the praline and 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.
For the raspberry log: replace the milk chocolate with white.
Chestnut Creme Brulee:
1 cup (230g) heavy cream
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup chesnut puree
Heat the cream to just boiling. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white). Add the chestnut puree. Pour the cream over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well. 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 275°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
For the raspberry log: replace the chestnut puree with 1 tablespoon of Meyer lemon juice and zest of a whole one.
Dark Chocolate Icing:
Note: I recommend doubling it to make eaiser to spread evenly.
4g / 2 tsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder
Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes. (if using powdered, use 2 tablespoons of water) Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well. 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.
For the raspberry log: use 100 gr of white chocolate, milk instead of cream and no cocoa.
For the chocolate fans: everything is explained very well by Alice Medrich with Julia Child in this tutorial.
Thank you ladies for another tasty challenge!