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Buche de Noel au tres Chocolat

by Pam Williams

This holiday season, I plan to astound my friends with very chocolate take on the classic Buche de Noel. Always a feast for the eyes, this dessert will also be a feast for chocolate lovers. Instead of the classic sponge cake, I am using moist, fudgy brownie. Instead of buttercream icing inside and out, the center will be my favorite deep, rich chocolate mousse. Now I warn you, this will be a labor of love with lots of things that could go wrong in putting it together but mistakes can be covered up with classic buttercream frosting and powdered sugar snow.

Step 1: The Filling

Make my favorite deep chocolate mousse; Chocolate Mougins in a previous lesson, letting it cool completely in one large bowl. We use this recipe because the mousse has body and holds its shape when cold. The custard and gelatin makes it much easier to work with for this dessert than a regular mousse. You won't be using all of it and what is left over can be frozen very successfully.

Step 2: The Cake

Now we go onto your favorite moist chocolate brownie recipe. As you may remember, my favorite is Kate's Great Chocolate Fudge Cake, see previous lesson. If you use Kate's recipe just follow those directions until the cake is coming out of the oven. When you remove the cake from the oven, carefully turn it out onto a clean kitchen towel and carefully remove the paper. Roll the cake up loosely with the towel starting at the longer sides until you get a cylinder. Let the cake cool while you make the buttercream frosting.

If you are using your favorite recipe or a packaged mix, make the batter as usual. Make sure to use the recipe ingredients for a moister or fudgier version not the cake version. Butter a jellyroll pan (8" x 12") and line it with a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Spread your batter evenly in the pan and bake in a 350ÉF oven checking every 10 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes away with only a few crumbs on it. You want the cake slightly moist. The total timing will depend on your recipe so you have to check often. When you remove the cake from the oven, carefully turn it out onto a clean kitchen towel and carefully remove the paper. Roll the cake up loosely with the towel starting at the longer sides until you get a cylinder. Let the cake cool while you make the buttercream frosting.

Step 3: The Assembly

Unroll the cake carefully and coat with about a 1/2-inch of chilled chocolate mousse. Now this is the fun part -- Using the towel to lift up and over, re-roll the cake enclosing the mousse until you have reached the other end. This will be messy and mousse will be oozing all over but persevere until you have a fat cylinder. Put the cylinder on a large piece of wax paper or plastic wrap and roll up in the paper. This is when you can smooth out the rough bumps and bits of mousse. Chill the roll until you can remove the plastic wrap or paper easily -- about 1/2 hour. The roll can be made ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator or freezer and decorated later.

Step 4: The Frosting

Classic Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

3 oz. Unsweetened Chocolate
1 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Water
4 Egg Yolks at room temperature
1/2 lb. Unsalted Butter at room temperature
1 tbsp. Real vanilla extract or instant espresso

Put the chocolate in a double boiler over very warm water, not simmering, to melt.

Beat the egg yolks until light the fluffy.

Dissolve sugar and water over medium heat in small saucepan. Do not stir during this process. Continue heating until sugar syrup boils and let temperature reach the small thread stage of 220ÉF. Remove from heat.

Pouring in a steady stream, vigorously beat the hot sugar syrup into the egg yolks. Continue beating until the mixture is cool and the egg mixture is very light. Beat the butter into the egg mixture by small amounts until well incorporated. Add the vanilla or espresso and continue beating until mixture is fluffy.

Gently fold the melted chocolate into the buttercream until well incorporated.

Step 5: The Decorating

Remove the paper or wrap from the chilled roll. Place it on your serving platter. Coat it with a generous layer of buttercream frosting. Using a fork or pastry comb, make ridges, knobs and rings so that your "log" looks as close to the real thing as you can get. Decorate with meringue mushrooms, real or silk greenery. I like to keep the log chilled until right before I serve it so that it cuts more easily. Before you serve the log, sprinkle with a "snow" of powdered or icing sugar and Enjoy!

Pam Williams is founder and lead instructor of Ecole Chocolat Professional Chocolatier School of Chocolate Arts.



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