I wasn´t totally sure I would be able to participate in the Daring Bakers challenge this month. As I´m sure your stress levels can attest by now, December is generally a hectic month, and not just in terms of baking since I don´t bake much since it´s summer here, just in terms of organization, gifts, work, bills, and such.
But luckily for me, this month´s challenge, while very involved, didn´t require much oven time and, even better, was served frozen! Now that I can do!
If you haven´t figured it out yet after reading post after post about “French Yule log”, well, that´s what our hosts Hilda of Saffron & Blueberry and Marion of Il en faut peu pour etre heureux chose for us. My hat´s off to you, ladies, wonderful job on picking a challenging recipe, and managing to keep it fun.
So, we had different choices in terms of flavors for the different elements and the shape of the whole thing. I went against tradition and chose to make it in a springform cake pan since I would be serving it to my whole family on Christmas Eve, so it was important for it to be enough for everyone, but also to look big enough for everyone.
The elements I chose are:
1) Almond dacquoise Biscuit
2) Milk chocolate mousse
3) Dark chocolate ganache Insert
4) Praline (Crisp) Insert
5) Creme Brulee Insert
6) Dark chocolate icing
I know it looks scary, but you can make the milk chocolate mousse, the creme brulee insert, and the crisp the day before, so you have half of the elements done already when you start working on the second day, and those last 3 elements don´t take long to make anyway.
I did the milk chocolate mousse, which is basically a whipped ganache starting with a caramel base (the only modification I made was adding cinnamon to the cream), which was both easy and absolutely delicious, so this one joins my baking repertoire from now on. That´s one of the beauties of multi-element recipes, you may not make the whole thing again, but you can fall in love with different elements and incorporate them to other recipes or use them on their own.
The dark chocolate ganache is also dreamy, and I added some cardamom and cinnamon to it to make it even better. In the case of the praline crisp, I was good and did the praline myself, but after that I felt I couldn´t possibly make an extra element from scratch, so instead of making “gavottes” from scratch, I took advantage of the options and ended up using oat square cereals, which I crushed before mixing with the chocolate.
Now, a big warning regarding the praline crisp: many people in the DB forum said that the crisp made it almost imposible for them to cut the log properly, crushing what was underneath. My crisp wasn´t particularly thin, so I decided to mess with aesthetics and chop it beforehand so I could sprinkle it on top of the mousse instead. It worked like a charm, but I basically lost a whole lot of definition in my layers. But I´m thiking that if you do it with crushed gavottes, you can get a thiner crisp, thus making it possible to cut the log without ruining the whole thing.
Last comments, I wouldn´t recommend making the creme brulee in the chocolate version, since making it vanilla (with a bit of lemon zest in my case) brings a much needed break to all that chocolate. And, even though it looks suspicious, the dark chocolate icing worked like a charm, and had a great shine to it.
For decorations, I did some chocolate triangles using Helene´s trick of pouring them on bubble wrap and sprinkling some leftover praline on the white chocolate.
Well, I don´t know about you, but I´m tired just thinking about all those steps, so I´m gonna go rest a bit before New Year´s Eve. But before you go, check out what my fellow Daring Bakers did with this recipe, you are bound to be amazed.
Oh, and a belated Merry Xmas from Phoebe and me… and yes, she looks pissed off, and I think she was, with every right too, it was her birthday and I was making her wear a Santa hat!
(Recipe after the jump)
French Yule log
(recipe from Flore at Florilege Gourmand)
1) Dacquoise Biscuit
3) Ganache Insert
4) Praline (Crisp) Insert
5) Creme Brulee Insert
The assembly will essentially be a Dacquoise Biscuit at the bottom, and the inserts inter-layered with mousse, with an icing finish.
Here I give you a summarized version of the recipe (believe it or not, this is the summarized version) with the elements I chose.
Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)
Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking
Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper
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. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.
2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s (caster) 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 almond meal and the caster 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 almond meal 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.
Element #2 Milk Chocolate Whipped Cream (Chantilly):
(Can be made the day before and kept in the fridge overnight)
2/3 cup (160g) heavy cream 35% fat
7.8 oz (220g) milk chocolate
2 1/3 tsp (15g) glucose or thick corn syrup
1 1/3 cup (320g) heavy cream 35% fat
1. Chop the chocolate coarsely.
2. Heat the 160g of cream to boiling and pour over the chocolate and glucose syrup.
3. Wait 30 seconds then stir the mix until smooth. Add the remaining cream.
4. Refrigerate to cool, then whip up.
Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert
Preparation time: 10mn
Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.
Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened
cinnamon or cardamom (optional)
- 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.
- 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.
Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert
Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)
Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or use an empty bottle of olive oil).
Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Here I used some quacker oat squares cereal I crushed since I didn´t feel like making the gavottes on top of everything else and I had already made the praline.
To make 2.1oz / 60g of gavottes (lace crepes – recipe by Ferich Mounia):
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
2/3 Tbsp (8g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup – 2tsp (35g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp / 0.5 oz (15g) beaten egg
1 tsp (3.5g) granulated sugar
½ tsp vegetable oil
- Heat the milk and butter together until butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat.
- Sift flour into milk-butter mixture while beating, add egg and granulated sugar. Make sure there are no lumps.
- Grease a baking sheet and spread batter thinly over it.
- Bake at 430°F (220°C) for a few minutes until the crepe is golden and crispy. Let cool.
Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
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.
Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert
Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking
Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper
Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc…
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
1 vanilla bean
- Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
- Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
- Pour the vanilla-infused milk 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 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
- Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.
Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing
Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)
Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan
Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
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.
- Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
- Add 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.
How To Assemble your French Yule Log
Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.
THIS IS FOR UNMOLDING FROM UPSIDE DOWN TO RIGHT SIDE UP.
You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.
1) Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.
You have two choices for Step 2, you can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log as in version A or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log as in version B:
2A) 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.
3A) Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4A) 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.
5A) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6A) 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.
7A) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8A) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9A) 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.
10A) Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.
2B) Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
3B) 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.
4B) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5B) 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.
6B) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
7B) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8B) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
9B) Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.
If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with TWO pieces of Dacquoise the order is:
3) Creme Brulee Insert
5) Praline/Crisp Insert
7) Ganache Insert
Again, this is NOT the way it looks if you take a cross-section, this is the order in which you lay the elements down.
If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with ONE piece of Dacquoise on the BOTTOM ONLY the order is:
2) Creme Brulee Insert
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
6) Ganache Insert
IF YOU ARE DOING THE ASSEMBLY RIGHT SIDE UP IN A SPRINGFORM PAN THE ORDER IS:
2) Ganache Insert
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
6) Creme Brulee Insert
8 OPTIONAL) Dacquoise
THE NEXT DAY…
Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc…
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.