Holiday Recap

Happy Sunday, everyone!! How was everyone’s holidays? Can you believe that New Year’s Eve is on Wednesday?! No? Good, me either!

My Christmas was really wonderful, surrounded by family and good food! This year, E had to work on Christmas… so my mom decided that we were going to have two separate dinners to celebrate!

Our first dinner (Christmas Dinner #1) was on Tuesday night, since we go to church on Christmas Eve and there really isn’t any time to have a sit down dinner. Our traditional Christmas dinner is filet mignon with all the trimmings!

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And my parents totally rocked out the roasted vegetables, onion relish, and mashed potatoes. Is there anything more holiday than mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts? I think not!

The dessert of the night was the Buche de Noel.

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It was traditional Christmas Perfection!

Christmas dawned bright and crisp and fueled by bacon, eggs, and scones, E took off for her new apartment and work and a productive day.

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The Cat and I were equally productive… in nap time.

Later in the day (now that we were refreshed!), we sat down to our second holiday supper. Christmas Dinner #2 was just as spectacular as Christmas Dinner #1.

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Hello, Shrunk Chickens!!! Or Cornish Game Hens… whatever name floats your boat.

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Marinated broccoli and my grandmother’s Greek stuffing rounded out the perfect Christmas dinner.

And, of course, we had Buche de Noel for dessert.

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It tasted great and was the perfect festive end to our Christmas feasts!

 

So, how was your holiday? What did you do, eat, and see? I want to hear all about it!

Your Christmas food lovin’ friend,

C

Buche de Noel, Day 3

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It. Is. Finished.

Oh my goodness, everyone, I am so unbelievably happy today. Yesterday, with some help from my dad, I pulled together the famed holiday dessert – The Buche de Noel.

I have been documenting my progress the past two days, but yesterday was the day… cake baking and dessert assembly (and eating!).

 

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The cake is a standard sponge cake and starts with a combination of eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and a little salt that is whipped on a double boiler until the mixture reaches 100 degrees.

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Then the egg mixture is removed from the heat and whipped some more on high speed until the mixture becomes twice its original volume and has cooled.

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When the mixture has been cooled, then the dry ingredients (cake flour and corn starch) are sifted into the mixture and it is all folded together.

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The batter is poured into a high-sided cookie sheet (or jelly roll pan) and spread out with a spatula. Bake for about 13-15 minutes until the cake is just set in the middle.

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Then turn out the cake onto a work surface to cool and stand back and do a happy dance that you have successfully made almost all the elements for the Buche de Noel.

Then go run some errands and return home to realized that your cat has jumped upon the counter and eaten some of your cake…

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So, make another cake and then make sure you stand watch as it cools so that thieving cats don’t eat your second attempt.

Now, it’s all about the assembly!

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To make the mushrooms, dab a little room temperature ganache on the bottom of a mushroom cap.

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And gently push in the stem until it becomes anchored in the ganache.

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And viola! A meringue mushroom!

 

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For the Buche de Noel itself, brush the cake with a spiked simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar brought to a boil, cooled, and spiked with an equal part of rum!).

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To make spreading the ganache easier (and to ensure you spread it evenly), I put big blobs of ganache all over the cake and spread with an offset spatula.

I totally spaced and didn’t take pictures of how to roll a jelly roll, but here is a pretty good tutorial video from Martha Stewart. I rolled my cake along the long-side, which provides a better sized piece of cake (this dessert is very rich so a little goes a LONG way!).

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Tada!

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We wanted to make a branch sticking out of the middle of the cake, so my dad trimmed 3-4 inches off one end…

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… and placed it onto the middle of the log!

Then frost the log like you would a regular cake… or as my dad put it, like you spackle a wall. Whichever analogy works for you!

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Then artfully arrange some meringue mushrooms around your Buche de Noel.

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And stand back and admire your work!

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Oh so festive!

 

This was a great Christmas baking challenge and I am so pleased with how it all worked out. I can’t wait to try again next year!

Your Buche de Noel bakin’ friend,

C

 

PS – I used the Buche de Noel recipe from Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers by Nick Malgieri.

Buche de Noel, Day 1

Hey kiddos! How are you? I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season, whether you are in the midst of celebrating Hanukkah or prepping for your Christmas or Kwanza celebrations!!

It is four days until Christmas and I am not prepared at all.

My room is not clean.

My family’s gifts are not wrapped.

My outfit for church on Christmas Eve is not picked out.

My contribution to the family holiday dinners is not planned out.

Despite not having these tasks finished, I have accomplished some important things these first three days of my holiday break.

I have lounged on my couch for approximately 6 hours each day.

I have been able to wear my sweatpants and t-shirts whilst lounging on said couch.

I have watched approximately 8-10 made-for-TV holiday movies (so much holiday drama and wonderfulness!).

I have consumed this magnificent breakfast twice in two days…

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*burp*

Despite my absolute laziness this weekend, I actually started on my family’s Christmas dessert!

I decided to challenge myself this year and make a Buche de Noel, AKA a Yule Log! It is the first time that I will be attempting this creation, so I will be documenting my journey (success or failure) for all to see. I have never been so nervous and excited at the same time.

I started on the accessory component of the Buche de Noel yesterday… the meringue mushrooms. These little cookies are the accompaniment to the actual cake, but they also serve as a dessert for your guests who don’t like cake or want a mostly chocolate-free dessert.

Meringues begin with three egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat them on medium speed. You can use a hand mixer, but your arm will get tired!

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I didn’t take the photos of the sugar additions (my bad!), but it is pretty simple. When the egg whites reach the soft peaks stage (when the egg whites make a small peak that flops over onto itself), slowly begin adding in 6 tablespoons of sugar. Kick the mixer onto high speed and beat until the mixture becomes stiff but remains glossy.

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Like this!

Then add in an additional 6 tablespoons of sugar and carefully fold it into the egg whites.

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Look how perfect.

Now it’s time to pipe the mushrooms! You need 2 parchment-lined cookie sheets, one for the mushroom caps and one for the stems.

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Pile half the meringue into a piping bag with a #6 round tip… or in my case, a zip tip baggie with a #6 round tip. No mess to clean up!

The mushroom caps are simple to make. Pipe the meringue onto the cookie sheet until a circle 1½”-2” in diameter is formed. When you made your circle, pull the piping bag to the side to avoid making a little point on top of the mushroom caps. If you make a little point, just dip your finger in some water and pat it down. No harm, no foul.

The stems are a little more complicated.

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Pipe a little meringue on the parchment.

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Then with steady pressure on the piping bag, pull upwards to make the stem (about 2” high!).

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Tada! Make sure you keep the point on the stems… they will be needed when we assemble the mushrooms.

Since these are mushrooms that grow in the ground, they need a little dirt on them!

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Some cocoa powder sprinkled over the tops add a whimsical touch!

The meringues are baked at 250 degrees for about 45 minutes. Since I made them ahead of time, I popped them into a Tupperware container in a cool, dry place until I assemble them tomorrow!

I can’t wait to see how it all turns out.

 

So kiddos, what are you up to? Are you making a big fancy dish for your family and friends to enjoy? I would love to hear all about it!

Your meringue-makin’ friend,

C