Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bûche de Noël, Pâte à Bombe, Mousse au Cointreau, Mousse au Chocolat, Strawberry Jelly, Dacquoise aux Amandes, Meringue Française

Mixing Dacquoise Sponge "By Hand"

Hello and Welcome Back! Our return to baking has been a long time coming, and we kicked off the start of the new term with a Christmas classic, Bûche de Noël or Christmas Log. 

Yes I know it is February, and I know it's the middle of a freakishly hot summer here Down Under, but when it comes to good food, and more so good desserts, you should be able to, in fact, you are entitled to enjoy it anytime, anywhere you see fit.

Aka Yule Log, this Christmas classic was first made to commemorate the festive seasons as it resembled a log that was used in fire-festivals of ancient winter solstice. Traditionally made with Swiss Rolls, this has in modern times been replaced by the mousse and cake ensemble. Our cake of choice today: the rich and fragrant almond dacquoise.

Almond Dacquoise, Piped & Topped With Almond Flakes
Baked & Assembled Into Log Molds

Magic Meringue Mushrooms

Melting Chocolate For Mousse, Syrup For Bombe
Pouring Syrup Into Egg Yolks

We made pâte à bombe as the base for the mousses, a rich and velvety-smooth concoction of sugar syrup and egg yolks, the former brought up to a boil before being whisked into the latter at Very High Speed. This is to prevent the yolks scrambling from the hot syrup, and emulsifying into a frothy mixture to be added to flavors such as melted chocolate or Cointreau with a bit of gelatin to hold its shape.

Chocolate & Cointreau Mousse

Building Christmas Logs

Being denser of the two, the chocolate mousse is piped first into the molds to fill it halfway up. A strawberry jelly, made with said berries, gelatin, sugar, more Cointreau and a few drops of orange blossom water (the same used in baklava) is chilled to set before going atop the chocolate mousse, which is then topped with the Cointreau mousse and another layer of dacquoise to finish the job. This is then set aside to be glazed and garnished tomorrow.

Preserved Orange Peel In The Making

In the meanwhile, we begin the long drawn process of making preserved fruit peel, 3 weeks / 9 lessons worth of treating it with sugar, sugar and more sugar before it is ready to be coated in chocolate. Orange and chocolate, my least favourite food combo. But who knows, maybe this will taste much better since we'll be making them from scratch. 

For today, the sliced peels are brought to boil in salted water, to soften them and remove the tartness from the piths. You'll be seeing a lot more of these in the posts to come.

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