December 24, 2008

Recipe for Buche de Noel

If anyone is so inclined (mainly in case I lose the paper I wrote it down on):

Buche de Noel
sourced from several places on the internets

Sponge cake (Genoise):

6 large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
12 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, sifted

1. Beat egg yolks with 6 Tbsp. sugar until thickened and pale
2. Whip egg whites with 6 Tbsp. sugar and the cream of tartar until stiff peaks are formed.
3. Gradually fold egg whites into egg yolks until combined.
4. Sift flour and cocoa powder onto egg mixture and fold in to combine.
5. Spread batter into a 15x11" jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 400 F. Remove and let cool.

Coffee Buttercream:

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 Tbsp. room-temperature unsalted butter (3 sticks, cut into 1-Tbsp. pieces)
2 Tbsp. espresso powder (I used 3 Tbsp. instant mexican coffee granules)
2 Tbsp. rum or brandy

1. Whisk sugar and egg whites together in a bowl set over simmering water until sugar is dissolved (test w/finger for grittiness) and egg reaches 110F (lukewarm).
2. Remove bowl from heat and whip egg whites until cooled (soft peaks stage).
3. Fit mixer with paddle attachment and beat in softened butter one tablespoon at a time until smooth. Turn up the speed if the emulsion starts to appear grainy.
4. Dissolve espresso powder in liquor and beat into the buttercream.

Meringue mushrooms

1/2 cup egg whites (approx. 3 large ones)
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Note: This recipe makes a ton of meringue, so plan on piping out meringue cookies or something once you get bored making mushroom parts.

1. Whisk sugar and egg whites together in a bowl set over simmering water until sugar is dissolved (test w/finger for grittiness) and egg reaches 110F (lukewarm).
2. Remove from heat and whip until stiff peak stage.
3. Pipe out small mounds (1/2" to 3/4") for mushroom caps and 1" high stems onto parchment paper. Using a moistened fingertip, push down/smooth out any "tails" that are stick out from the mushroom caps before baking.
4. Bake 45 minutes at 200 F, then 30 minutes at 175 F to dry out completely.
5. Dried meringue shapes can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.


Peel parchment paper off sponge cake and place the cake back on the sheet of paper. Spread buttercream over top of cake, leaving 1" bare along the long side of the cake. Using the parchment paper as a support, start rolling from the un-frosted long edge of the cake and form a tight roll. Place cake seam side down and refrigerate 30 minutes to set before proceeding.

Cut "branches" from the ends of the main log and arrange them on either side. Spread dark chocolate ganache over the cake and use a fork to texturize (make swirly knots for extra interest).

Assembling meringue mushrooms: Use a paring knife (I used the tip of a steak knife), make small divots in the base of a mushroom cap, brush the underside with ganache, and insert the stem. Let set upside down/lying down.

Arrange meringue mushrooms in clusters along the top of the log (also anchor some on the plate with a dab of ganache for interest). Dust the tops of the mushrooms with cocoa powder, then dust the entire cake with powdered sugar "snow."

December 23, 2008

BOOSH de Noel

So many eggs went into this. I think I knocked our egg inventory down by a dozen or so.

Parchment paper is my friend, and it should be your friend, too, if you ever attempt something this crazy. Also, I have beaten egg whites and folded them into other things so many times now that it no longer fazes me.

Meringues are so fun. I just piped these with a giant ziploc freezer bag with a corner cut off.

Coffee buttercream. This was the first time I'd done a classic buttercream frosting (egg whites heated with sugar, then whisked and butter beaten in one tablespoon at a time), and OH MY GOD THERE WAS SO MUCH BUTTER.

I rolled the cake last night, wrapped and stashed it in the fridge, then finished decorating today. The perfectionist/OCD part of me loooooves pastry work.

Topping is dark chocolate ganache. I must admit, the two main things that compelled me to make this cake were 1. cute meringue mushrooms, and 2. coffee filling.

December 12, 2008

Limoncello - part 1

Step 1 completed:

- 1 handle of Everclear
- 1 Buddha hand citron, washed and thinly sliced
- Zest of 2 lemons
- Giant glass jar

It felt really, really wrong to pour the entire jug of Everclear into the jar.

The alcohol started turning yellow within about 15 minutes because we used a microplane to zest the lemons. Luckily, the Buddha hand didn't need zesting, as its pith was sweet rather than bitter like that of lemons. Zesting a Cthulhu citrus would have been a pain in the ass.

Now comes the waiting. Most recipes say the initial steeping time is about a month (until the peels turn white, indicating all aromatics have been extracted). I'm keeping it in my closet so Emily isn't tempted to keep poking/sampling it.