Tuesday, December 30, 2008

[Daring Bakers] French chocolate yule log

Hello my dear fellows,

This month DB challenge was a tricky one and asked for a lot of patience, but was worth it :-) I did change a little bit the recipe, I tried to use less heavy cream than asked by the original recipe. My yule log was not light either.
I'm away from my iphoto database and cannot post with a picture. As soon as I'm back I will add a picture to this challenge.
Happy Holidays everybody!

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

FRENCH YULE LOG OR ENTREMETS RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand

Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)

Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking

Equipment: 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 mixer, 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 Dark Chocolate Mousse

Preparation time: 20mn

Equipment: 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.
In the Vanilla Mousse variation, pastry cream is made to the same effect.
In the Mango Mousse variation, Italian meringue is made to the same effect. Italian meringue is a simple syrup added to egg whites as they are beaten until stiff. It has the same consistency as Swiss meringue (thick and glossy) which we have used before in challenge recipes as a base for buttercream.
The Whipped Cream option contains no gelatin, so beware of how fast it may melt.
Gelatin is the gelifying agent in all of the following recipes, but if you would like to use agar-agar, here are the equivalencies: 8g powdered gelatin = 1 (0.25 oz) envelope powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp Agar-Agar.
1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder.

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 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert

Preparation time: 10mn

Equipment: 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
3Tbsp + 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 (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
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 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert

Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)

Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or I use an empty bottle of olive oil).

Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Special note: If you use one of the substitutes for the gavottes, you should halve the quantity stated, as in use 1oz of any of these cereals instead of 2.1oz.
If you want to make your own praline, please refer back to the Daring Baker Challenge Recipe from July 2008.

To make 2.1oz / 60g of gavottes (lace crepes - recipe by Ferich Mounia):
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
2/3 Tbsp (8g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup – 2tsp (35g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp / 0.5 oz (15g) beaten egg
1 tsp (3.5g) granulated sugar
½ tsp vegetable oil
1. Heat the milk and butter together until butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat.
2. Sift flour into milk-butter mixture while beating, add egg and granulated sugar. Make sure there are no lumps.
3. Grease a baking sheet and spread batter thinly over it.
4. Bake at 430°F (220°C) for a few minutes until the crepe is golden and crispy. Let cool.

Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert

Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking

Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper

Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...

1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean

1. Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing

Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)

Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan

Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.

4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 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 cold 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.
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.

You have two choices for Step 2, you can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log as in version A or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log as in version B:

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.
3A) Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4A) 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.
5A) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6A) 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.
7A) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8A) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9A) 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.
10A) Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.


2B) Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
3B) 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.
4B) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5B) 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.
6B) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
7B) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8B) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
9B) Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with TWO pieces of Dacquoise the order is:
1) Dacquoise
2) Mousse
3) Creme Brulee Insert
4) Mousse
5) Praline/Crisp Insert
6) Mousse
7) Ganache Insert
8) Dacquoise

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

If you are doing the assembly RIGHT SIDE UP in a springform pan the order is:
1) Dacquoise
2) Ganache Insert
3) Mousse
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Mousse
6) Creme Brulee Insert
7) Mousse
8 OPTIONAL) Dacquoise

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.
You may 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...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Brad Pitt' s Christmas wish!

(Today Show, NBC picture)

Last year, on december 4th, I was talking here about Brad Pitt Christmas wish and about a great non-profit project to help rebuilt New-Orleans: Make it Right project. Unfortunately, New Orleans is not rebuilt yet ... and this wounded city is still waiting for help to recover from Katrina.

Holidays are the time to share great food, give and receive gifts but also a time to think about others in needs. If you're one of my frequent readers you may have notice that I also featured non-profit and causes here (Breast cancer awareness, Menu for Hope, FeelGood Foundation, and help beat sarcoma -> still ongoing operation, I need your help ).

Anyway why let's go back to Brad Pitt's project in New Orleans:
the guy, quite a normal guy (LOL) is part of a great and generous charitable project: the Make It Right project (see the web site here). And on his Christmas list there is: a home for everybody in New Orleans!

You can watch Brad chatting with Ann Curry last year on the Today Show (video here). You can also find some info on people.com here.

The MIR project is to build green affordable houses in New-Orleans. They even thought about new possible flooding and houses will be built on piles.
On the MIR project web site you can visit a virtual house that will be built in NoLa.
It's Christmas time so why not to donate a little, there is no minimum and what I really like it that you can while visiting the virtual house donate for a compact fluorescent bulb ($5), or a rooftop solar system or even adopt a house i.e. buy the full house.
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

In the search for Christmas menu ideas?

Note: French version is on my other blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma
Holidays generosity: Menu for Hope V

For those of us who are in cruel need for ideas for Christmas menu, here I come to the rescue with some of my recipes ( all explained step by step). I learned most of the one I'm presenting today at the famous Lenotre cooking school in Cannes. Pierre Herme himself, among others, learnt pastry at Lenotre school.


foie gras on mango French toast

Main dish:
Mushroom stuffed sole on a leek bed

Side dish:
goat cheese and mache risotto

French chocolate yule log

To nibble:
XMas sugar cookies

Friday, December 19, 2008

XMas sugar cookies

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma
Holidays generosity: Menu for Hope V

Christmas is around the corner, for those of you who have been living in a cave it's this coming Wednesday!
I accomplished a big step today: finished wrapping my gifts. So I deserve a sweet treat, don't I ? :-)
In the USA, ladies tend to organize Christmas cookies exchange parties. Americans love their cookies and at XMas time host has to have different varieties of cookies to offer. But in this busy period even a well organize, polished perfect-host (a Martha Stewart look-a-like if you prefer) won't have enough time to bake 5 to 6 varieties of cookies. So US housewives created the cookie swap concept. Really simple and ingenuous: you invite your girlfriends over for tea and they all bring a big batch of 1 variety of cookies. Batches are divided between all the attending ladies. Smart! Who said US housewives are desperate? :-)

Here in my new home (Luxembourg area) almost all my girlfriends have left for the Holidays to their countries, so I couldn't organize a cookie swap.
We did bake some Christmas sugar cookies at home. I must say their decoration was a lot of fun!

Sugar cookies dough:
-1 stick of butter at room temperature
-1/2 cup of powdered sugar
-2 egg yolks
-1cup 3/4 of all purpose flour
-2 tbsp of water
(can be flavored with vanilla extract)

Note: dough has to be prepared at least 2h in advance, the day before is even better.
1- Carefully whisk together with a wooden spoon the smooth butter cut into slices, the sugar. Incorporate the yolks. (I don't have a stand-mixer, but you can as well work with one of those beauties at low speed).
2- When all the elements are mixed together, slowly add the flour. Work with your hand to form a uniform, smooth dough.
3- Add the water, and form with your hand a ball.
4- Refrigerate, cover with plastic wrap, at least 2 hours
5- Preheat your oven at 350F. Line baking sheets with non sticky baking mats or parchment paper. Set aside.
6- Transfer the dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough to 1/8 inch (4 mm) thickness.
7- Cut it with your favorite cookie cutters (or a glass if you don't own any cookie cutters). Leftover dough can roll over and over, to cut more cookies.
8- Transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 15 min until slightly golden.
9- Place them on a cooling rack.

-food coloring
-powdered sugar
-lemon juice or water
-sugar decorations
1- Combine 2 tbsp of powdered sugar with 2 to 3 lemon juice drops (can be replace by water if you don't have lemon juice or if you don't want the lemony taste). Add 2 to 3 food coloring drops.
Note: open and close the food coloring tubes away from you, splashes can happen ...
2- Spread the icing, with a teaspoon, on cooled cookies.
3- Add any decorations you want (before the icing dries).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Menu for hope V, the prize I'm giving away

Note: French version is on my other blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma

I'm proud to help Menu for Hope this year, like last year. Menu for Hope is an annual fundraiser hosted by Pim. Last year, Menu for Hope raised nearly $100K to help the UN World Food Program feed the hungry. Yes you read it correctly $100K :-) I know this year we the tough and struggling economy it will be tough to raise money for good causes, but with all YOUR help we can do it!
How it works:Each December, food bloggers from all over the world join the campaign by offering a food-related prizes for the Menu for Hope raffle. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual raffle ticket to bid on a prize of their choice. At the end of the two-week campaign, the raffle tickets are drawn and the results announced on Chez Pim.

The campaign is divide between region. For us, here in Europe, the hostess is Sara from Ms Adventures in Italy . Check out other European prizes here.

This year my prize is: code:EU20
Muffin Lover's Set: 12 Silicone Baking Cups and a Muffin Cookbook
Offered by Babeth of La vie in English. Ultimate muffins set, with silicon cups so you will never run out of the old paper version and plus it's eco-friendly. Added the book : Les muffins de Bob by Mark Grossman (an American living in Paris, book in French), filled with ideas to make beautiful muffins.

How to bid:
Donation Instructions:
1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope at
2. Go to the donation site at http://www.firstgiving.com/menuforhope5
and make a donation.
3. Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize
of your choice. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal
Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation.
You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize
For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets
for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02
4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box
and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.
5. Please allow us to see your email address so that we could contact
you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nicolas Feuillatte on vente-privée, starting today

Starting today you can buy online Nicolas Feuillatte, on sale meaning outlet prices from you coach :-)
Where on vente-privée.
To take advantage of those bargains you need to be a member, and it's only on invitation.
Well you will tell me, great but how I can get a VIP invitation?
Simple! Just click here I'm inviting you :-)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Soup at Tiffany

Note: French version is on my other food blog: La cuisine de Babeth
Rare cancer awareness:
don't forget to check: Help beat sarcoma


When I prepare soups at home it's always in big batches. Not that I have that many mouths to feed, but it's great to have home-made soup in your freezer waiting to warm you up on those cold and lazy evenings. To be more convenient I freeze my soup in small 1 to 2 portion bags.
This season I'm a big fan of Brussels sprouts as well as leeks.
Last week at my favorite grocery store I was seduced by a plumply cauliflower, so I brought it home :-) But it has no effect, what so ever, on my other housemate ... so it ended up mixed in a soup.

I was so thrilled when I saw my soup finished: it turned into a pale tint of spring green puree. Exactly the same green as Tiffany&Co boxes! We all remember the great movie with Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard (young, this guy can act): Breakfast at Tiffany, guess why I named my soup: soup at Tiffany ? :-)

-2 leeks
-1 cauliflower
-olive oil (e.v.o.o preferred)
-kosher salt

1- Remove the leafs and trim the end (the dry part, the rest will be used for the soup). Cut into pieces, wash under running water.
2- In a large pot put some water to boil ( at least 1 liter: cauliflower pieces have to be covered by it). When it's boiling add a generous pinch of kosher salt and a tea spoon of curcuma. Reduce the heat and add the cauliflower. Let it cook for about 20 minutes. (How to know it's cooked? if you can drive in the tip of a knife like into melted butter: it's done). Drain and set aside
3- While it's cooking prepare the leeks. Trim the bottom end (hairy one) and the spoiled part of the leafs. The green is the key ingredient to have this rich color. Wash them carefully. Mine were organic so a bit dirty.
4- Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, then in small slices.
5- In a hot pan add a splash of olive oil and the leeks. Cook it for about 10 minutes until it's slightly golden. Set aside.
6- Mix altogether in a blender the cooked cauliflower and leeks. Set aside in a large bowl the pureed veggies and add 1 to 2 tbs of olive oil. Serve or freeze!

Other soups recipes:
-evoo toasted pumpkin soup
-Jerusalem artichoke soup
-cream slip peas and bacon
- cream hokkaido squash soup
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