Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Holidays!: Buche de Noel OR Cake of Stump

Some notes: A traditional French (and maybe British? Yule Log?) dessert. VERY CHIC

I don't know about the bananas bit. I left them out, but if you're into that kind of thing go for it.

Total musts: lots of caramel sauce drizzled all over the cake slices. And the marzipan mushrooms. Recipe follows. Some people might get confused, so be sure to tell everyone that they are not real mushrooms. If you're a real artiste-type, you could make little birdies too.

To make the cake look more stump-like, I ran a fork over it to make semi-natural looking lines. This recipe for some reason recommends frosting the ends of the cake. Assuming you haven't totally botched the rolling of the cake, I'd leave the ends unfrosted so it looks more like a piece of tree that's been cut open with rings and all. This cake is all about the tree mimicry. In my opinion.

Caramel-Pecan Bûche de Noël Bon Appétit | December 2006

Caramel-Pecan Bûche de Noël

Yule log meets that New Orleans classic, bananas Foster, in a make-ahead dessert.

Yield: Makes 16 servings

2 cups pecans, toasted, cooled
1/4 cup all purpose flour
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled

Frosting and caramel sauce
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Fresh bay leaves or lemon leaves
Powdered sugar (for sprinkling)
6 large bananas, sliced (optional)
2 pints butter pecan or pecan praline ice cream

For cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 17x12x1-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment; butter paper. Pulse nuts and flour in processor until nuts are finely chopped (not ground). Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in very large bowl until foamy. With mixer running, gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar, beating just until stiff peaks form. Using electric mixer, beat yolks with 1/3 cup sugar and bourbon in large bowl until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add yolk mixture to egg-white mixture. Sprinkle nuts over; gently fold until almost incorporated. Add butter; fold gently just to blend. Pour into prepared baking sheet, spreading batter gently to form even layer.

Bake cake until edges begin to brown and cake is firm to touch, about 14 minutes. Cool in pan on rack.

For frosting and caramel sauce:

Stir 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1/3 cup water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 9 minutes (time will vary, depending on size of pan). Remove from heat; immediately add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Whisk in butter, bourbon, and salt. Stir over medium heat until any caramel bits dissolve. Transfer 1 cup caramel sauce to small pitcher. Add chocolate to remaining caramel in saucepan. Let stand off heat 5 minutes; whisk until smooth. Transfer to bowl. Let frosting stand until spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.

Spread 1 cup frosting over cake in even layer. Beginning at 1 long side and using parchment as aid, roll up cake jelly-roll style. Starting 1 inch in from each end of cake, cut off 3-inch-long diagonal piece from each end. Arrange cake, seam side down, on platter. Spread cut side of each 3-inch cake piece with some of frosting. Attach 1 cake piece, frosting side down, to top of cake near 1 end. Attach second piece to side of cake near opposite end. Cover cake with remaining frosting. Run fork in concentric circles on cake ends. Do ahead Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover loosely with waxed paper and let stand at room temperature.

Garnish platter with leaves. Sprinkle cake lightly with powdered sugar. Cut cake into slices and serve with bananas, if desired, ice cream, and sauce.

Marzipan Mushrooms Bon Appétit | December 2000

Yield: Makes about 10

2/3 cup marzipan
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Make about 10 mushroom stems by rolling dime- to quarter-size pieces of marzipan into cylinders. Make large and small mushroom caps by rolling dime- to quarter-size pieces of marzipan into balls; then pinch into cap shape. Attach stems, pressing gently. Dust with cocoa.