After each Daring Baker challenge has come to a close, it’s with great excitement and anticipation that I return to the forums, checking and re-checking for the announcement of the next recipe. Hoping for something truly stupendous and impressive to serve to the family for the holidays, I just knew that December’s challenge had to be incredible. Rushing to click on the newest bulletin when it was posted at last, my heart sank when I read the first two lines of this month’s new thread:
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand“
Don’t get me wrong, I love yule logs, but we made one last year too! I felt ripped off, cheated out of my show-stopping holiday dessert. Slowly accepting the fact that the task had been chosen and wouldn’t be changed, I dutifully continued to read the description. Much to my surprise and delight, a French yule log really was another beast altogether, sharing only the same outward appearance as a wintry tree trunk. Instead of the typical roll cake layered with cream and frosting, this was a complex assembly of ganache, mousse, icing, dacquoise, praline crisp, and creme brulee, all frozen together into something like a sophisticated ice cream cake.
First things first, a specialized mold was in order, lest I settle on a decidedly boxy, rectangular log with a plain loaf pan. Of course, I waited until almost the last minute to figure out how to construct such a shape… But luckily, some creativity and patience produced a perfect vessel for this Christmas creation.
A simple sheet of thin aluminum was cut to size and fitted snugly into a 9-inch long loaf pan, and using high-tech means of securing it, ie, duct tape, the yule log form was ready!
The creme brulee insert, however, was not. Scrambling to figure out a good way to veganize this, I basically pureed a box of tofu with black cherry jam, which I had been holding on to for a special occasion. After an hour in the oven, I had not a smooth but firm creme, but a watery, curdled mess. Panic set in, and the only thing I could think to do was strain out some of the water and try again. It would have helped if the whole thing wasn’t liquid though… The mixture instantly splashed through the strainer, completely unchanged. Hunting desperately through my baking supplies for a solution, the box of cornstarch stood out in my eyes, and I wasted no time in dosing some out to my sickly concoction. Measurements flew out the window at this point, so there’s no recipe to share, but by some miracle this quick-fix actually worked.
Aiming to make this a black forest yule log, everything else went swimmingly from there: My favorite white chocolate mousse was a breeze to whip up, the chocolate crisp insert was like making a no-bake cookie, ganache is a no brainer, and although the dacquiose came out a bit on the thin side, I couldn’t have cared less. Some time late into the AM hours, my buche de noel was assembled and chilling out in the freezer.
Having lined the pan with plastic wrap, and accidentally underestimating the amount of agar needed in the icing, what could have been careless accidents worked together to create an almost convincing wood grain along the outside. Talk about serendipity!
A few sugared cranberries, a squirt of mint frosting to make leaves, and a handful of meringue mushrooms later, the scene was sufficiently set, and I was finally done.
This yule log turned out to be just the thing I had hoped for- A true challenge to create, and satisfying reward to eat!