Sometimes, more often than not, I still fall under the delusion that having all the right tools will help me make great desserts. In my head, I know it is about technique and balance and the right flavor combination.
I had a moment of panic when I discovered this month’s Daring Bakers challenge: A French Yule Log or Bûche de Noël. I was out of town for most of December and just got home a couple days before Christmas. I wanted to make it for our annual Christmas Eve dinner, but time was short for this seemingly overly-complicated dessert. I took a deep breath and remembered the point of joining this group was to challenge myself.
This month’s challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en faut peu pour etre heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand. The website is in French and the recipe is six different components and variations and not located in one link. In order to successfully complete the challenge, I needed to make and assemble the six elements in whatever shape.
The first step I took was to run out and buy (see my first rambling up above) a traditional Bûche de Noël mold.
I decided to make a French Polynesian themed yule log because I just got back from the South Pacific with vanilla beans and French lacy crepes I bought at a grocery in Papetee.
For my yule log I decided to make:
1. Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)–the basic recipe. I had trouble with this cake. It broke apart when I tried to insert it into the mold. I created a patchwork cake layer–luckily no one could tell in the final product. Because it broke apart and because I ate a lot of the broken pieces I didn’t have enough cake for the top of the mold (or bottom of the cake).
2. Vanilla Mousse–instead of the traditional dark chocolate mousse. I wanted to showcase my Tahitian vanilla beans.
3. Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert–the basic recipe.
4. Coconut Crisp–instead of the traditional praline feuillete crisp. I wanted to use coconut for tropical flavoring. This recipe called for the use of lace crepes, which you can’t buy or are hard to find in the US. The choices were to (1) make your own or (2) use rice krispies or corn flakes. I planned on using option (2) until I happened upon lace crepes in a grocery in Tahiti.
5. Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert–the basic recipe worked here, showcasing the vanilla beans.
6. Dark Chocolate Icing–the basic recipe
Although this wasn’t the prettiest yule log (cake decorating is not my strong suit), it was definitely a hit at our Christmas Eve dinner. Everyone loved it.