Sunday, December 28, 2008

Le Défi de décembre du Boulanger qui ose (Daring Baker’s December Challenge)

This month the Daring Bakers went French with a French Yule Log recipe. What is the difference between a French and a typical “American” Yule Log? The “American” Yule log is made of cake and buttercream and it is rolled very similar to a jelly roll. The French Yule log is a cream based dessert, layered with different textured inserts, and served frozen (like ice cream cake).
This month’s challenge was not too challenging. It seemed overwhelming at first because there was a lot of steps and a lot of layers, but really the challenge here was organization. After reading through the entire recipe, you have to create a game plan for completion. I did the loaf over three days. You can do it in one day, but I like to spend the least amount of time in the kitchen as possible since it is the holiday season and I am home for break. So, below is the order by day of what I completed. Enjoy!

By the way- I am at home for the holidays and completed this challenge for a dinner party my mother was hosting. I got the biggest compliments about this dessert- This is just like a dessert you would pay $20 or more for in an upscale restaurant. THAT was the biggest compliment ever and brought a HUGE smile to me face!


Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond “Cake”)
This layer was pretty uneventful. I followed the directions as written. I did make my own almond meal. Score one for me!

Raspberry Crème Brulee
I have never made a crème brulee before, but if I have learned anything from “Top Chef” this season- you have to give it adequate time to cook. (All you “Top Chef” fans out there will know what I am talking about). So

- I did not have a vanilla bean. So, I used a little vanilla extract.
- By the namesake, you can tell I added raspberry puree. I pushed about 6oz of fresh raspberries through a sieve. Because raspberries are slightly bitter, I added 2 tbs of confectioners sugar (in addition to the sugar already in the recipe).
- After reading a lot of comments regarding the temperature of the oven to bake the crème brulee and doing some on-line research, I decided to bake mine at 275 degrees.

Milk Chocolate Almond Praline Feuillete
At first I was going to skip the praline part of this step. Truthfully, I wanted to be lazy and I did not want to dirty up another pan. But, then I decided if I was going to do this thing I was going to go all out.

I am at home for Winter Break and my mom is in a new house. I have to get acquainted with the new kitchen ware. One particular challenge is the stove. Our old stove and my stove in my apartment at school are both electric. The stove in the new home is gas. Gas cooks differently then electric. Long story not so short, I burnt the chocolate using the double boiler method. Instead of trying on top of the stove again, I just melted the chocolate in the microwave. And I just remembered, I forgot the butter. Oh, well. Still tasty.

- I made an almond praline paste. I used a lot more than 2 Tbs, but I am not sure of the exact measure. I just put some sugar in the pain and almonds and then ground all that down to a paste and then threw it all in the crisp insert layer.
- I used Rice Krispies cereal. (I did not have the time nor patience nor extra eggs to make the crepes myself. In the future I will, I promise :-)

White Chocolate Chantilly
I love the combination of white chocolate and raspberries. Since I did the raspberry crème brulee, I thought it would be nice to so the mousse in white chocolate. I did not make the mousse however, because the recipe called for gelatin and as a vegetarian, I don’t do gelatin (it is made from animal bones—just in case you did not know and was wondering). So, I did a chantilly instead.

- It was not intentional, but since reading must not be my forte, I misread the recipe and but in 2 Tbs of corn syrup instead of 2 tsp.

At the end of day one, I put the crème brulee in the freezer and the Dacquoise, Praline Crisp, and Chantilly base in the fridge.


White Chocolate Chantilly (continued)
I only made the base for the chantilly on day one. Today, I whipped it up. It whipped up beautifully and though I added too much corn syrup it is not overly sweet.


Assembly went pretty uneventful. I placed the Dacquoise on the bottom of the loft pan, followed by Chantilly Cream, followed by the Crème Brulee, followed by more Chantilly Cream, followed by the Praline Crisp, and the last layer of Chantilly Cream. After which, I placed the almost completed loaf in the freezer to set up before the final two steps.

I had a lot of praline crisp left over. I would suggest cutting that recipe in half.

Milk Chocolate Ganache
I was surprised of the caramelized sugar taste you could taste in the ganache layer. I am glad I decided to follow the recipe, exactly, and caramelize the sugar.
At the end of day two, the entire loaf is in the freezer and awaiting icing on day three.


Milk Chocolate Icing
This is another element that called for gelatin. I did not have access to agar agar and truthfully, I am not sure I saw the need for it. So, I decided to just forgo the gelatin, not replace it, and just make a simple ganache. The ganache icing turned out just fine. Score another point for vegetarianism :-)
All in all great challenge and it was yummy. Though I am not a huge crème brulee fan. The rest was fantastic.

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.

Friday, December 05, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year....

And that means COOKIES!

Making roll out and decorated cookies is always an event in my house. Prepping for days- Do I have parchment paper, decorating bags, time, etc... So, these cookies were 4 days in the making with a few hick-ups that I over came along the way. I will not get into the details; the wounds are still too fresh :-)... Just kidding.

But, I am so happy with the results. (And yes, I am in the middle of exam season. But I can honestly promise, exam study did not hender my cookie making... Opps, umm... I mean, Cookie making did not hender studying for my exam.... Yeah, that's it!)