Sunday, December 28, 2008


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.

Tartlette was on hand to help with this very challenging adventure.

The challenge rule was that we make all 6 of the log elements:
1. Dacquoise Biscuit
2. Mousse
3. Ganache Insert
4. Praline (Crisp) Insert
5. Creme Brulee Insert
6. Icing

You can check out the hosts' sites for the original recipes. I made a few changes, using some of my own recipes that I am more familiar with. I loved the hosts' chocolate mouse and icing recipes. I will be using them in the future.

I used a plastic mold that my salesperson from Chef's Warehouse gave me from Valrhona. It is specifically designed to make these types of entremets. I was looking forward to using it so this challenge could not have come at a better time.

Here is a close up of all the different elements.

Element #1
Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 min for baking
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 sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

1. Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a food processor, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds)
2. Sift the flour into the mix.
3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6. 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).
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden. 8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Element #2
Preparation time: 20 min
Stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.

2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6. Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Element #3
Preparation time: 10mn
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
3 tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

1. Make a caramel: 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. Cook to dark amber color.
2. 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.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
4. 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
Preparation time: 10 min.
Glass bowl, microwave, sheetpan

5 Ounces White Chocolate
26 Ounces Praline Paste
17 1/2 Ounces Paillete Feuilletine or Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies

1. Melt white chocolate and praline paste in a glass bowl in the microwave until liquid.
2. Add the Paillete Feuilletine and mix with a spatula to incorporate.
3. Spread out on a full size sheetpan.
4. Refrigerate or freeze until needed.
5. Cut into the shape you need to fit your mold

Element #5
Preparation time: 15 min + 45 min baking
Saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, parchment paper, plastic wrap

1 Quart Heavy Cream
1 Vanilla Bean
8 Ounces Sugar
12 Egg Yolks
Pinch of Salt

1. Scrape the seeds from the Vanilla Bean.
2. Sprinkle 2 tablespoon of the sugar in the bottom of a heavy saucepan.
3. Pour the cream on top of the sugar and add the vanilla bean and seeds.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil then turn off the heat, cover and let steep 30 minutes. This will give off more vanilla flavor from the bean.
5. Whisk together the yolks, remaining sugar, and salt.
6. Bring the cream mixture back to the boil and temper it with the yolk mixture. Tempering means to slowly add the boiling mixture to the yolk mixture. If you do not do it slowly you can scramble your yolks.
7. When all the cream mixture is mixed with the yolk mixture strain it into a bowl.
8. You can bake it now but I like to refrigerate it overnight to bring out even more vanilla flavor.
9. When you are ready to bake the creme brule preheat your oven to 325 degrees and pour the mixture into the mold you have chosen. Set this mold onto a sheet pan.
10. Put it into the preheated oven and pour hot water onto the sheet pan. This is called a water bath and will allow your creme brule to bake slowly and avoid curdling.
11. Bake for about 30 - 40 minutes or until set. The mixture should wiggle just a little in the middle.
12. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
13. Cover and freeze overnight.
14. Cut into the shape you will need to fit your mold.

Element #6
Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)
Small bowl, small saucepan
Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.

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 ice water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. 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.
2. You can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log.
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.
3. Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4. 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.
5. Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6. 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.
7. Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8. Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9. 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.
10. Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.Freeze until the next day.

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with ONE piece of Dacquoise on the BOTTOM ONLY the order is:
1) Mousse
2) Creme Brulee Insert
3) Mousse
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Mousse
6) Ganache Insert
7) 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. 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 for about an hour before cutting.

Monday, December 08, 2008


The lady golfers had their annual Holiday Guest Golf Tournament and their theme was Reindeer. I made a chocolate cookie reindeer and a chocolate sleigh. On top of the sleigh sat an orange cake with a cranberry bavarian wrapped up with buttercream to look like a gift box. A little creme anglaise and a dusting of powdered sugar and of course the reindeer's red nose. Made 96 of them and the ladies loved them.
I am now officially in the Holiday Spirit.
3 Ounces Unsalted Butter (soft)
10 3/4 Ounces Sugar
Zest of 3 Oranges (use microplane)
11 1/4 Ounces Cake Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
6 Ounces Milk
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/2 Tablespoons Orange Juice (from the oranges you got the zest from)
3 Large Eggs
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In the bowl of a 5 quart mixer beat the butter.
3. With your fingers rub the orange zest into the sugar.
4. Slowly add the sugar into the butter and mix for about 2 minutes.
5. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
6. In a measuring cut stir together the milk, vanilla and orange juice.
7. On low speed of the mixer add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet, ending with the dry.
8. Add the eggs one at a time and mix to incorporate. Do not overmix.
9. Pour the batter into a paper lined 1/2 sheetpan and bake for 18 - 20 minutes.

2 Cups Milk
10 Ounces Sugar
10 Egg Yolks
8 Gelatin Sheets
2 Cups Cranberry Puree or Juice
24 Ounces Heavy Cream
1. Soften Gelatin in ice water. Set aside.
2. Sprinkle a little of the sugar into the bottom of a saucepan and pour the milk over it. Bring to a boil.
3. Mix the remaining sugar into the yolks and temper the yolks and milk.
4. Cook the mixture to 180 degrees. Remove from heat and strain.
5. Add the gelatin and stir to melt it.
6. Add the puree or juice and stir over an ice bath until cool to the touch but not set.
7. Whip the cream to soft peak and incorporate it into the cranberry mixture.

To assemble the cake.
1. Cut the cake in half and fit it into a mold. Cut to fit.
2. Pour the bavarian cream over the cake.
3. Top with the remaining cake.
4. Freeze.
5. Cut into desired shapes and decorate.