Buche de Noel

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A rolled chocolate sponge cake done up for Christmas with classic French flair.

Buche-de-Noel
Chris Alack

A bûche de Noël is the French equivalent of the English Christmas pudding, and in typical style has glamorous all-round potential, like so much of their pâtisserie.

Ingredients

Sponge
1/2 cup cocoa
a pinch of sea salt
3 large eggs
1/3 cup light brown sugar
Filling
3 ounces dark chocolate (approx. 70% cocoa), broken into pieces
13 ounces unsweetened chestnut purée
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Extra
Christmas figurines to decorate
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Instructions

  1. To make the sponge, preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9 1/2 x 13 inch jellyroll pan, line with parchment paper and butter this also. Sift cocoa into a bowl and add salt. Place eggs and brown sugar in a bowl and whisk for 8–10 minutes, using a hand blender, until mixture is pale and mousse-like. Lightly fold in cocoa in two turns. Pour the mixture into prepared tin and smooth it using an offset spatula. Give the pan a couple of sharp taps on the work surface to eliminate any large air bubbles and bake the sponge for 8–10 minutes, until set and springy to the touch.
  2. Lay out a clean tea towel and sift a fine layer of confectioner’s sugar over it. Tip the cake out on to it and carefully roll it with the kitchen towel, with the paper, starting at the short end so finish with a short fat roll. Leave to cool for 40–60 minutes.
  3. To make filling, gently melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water, then set it aside to cool to room temperature. Blend chestnut purée, sugar and vanilla in a food processor, then add the chocolate. Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, and fold it into the chocolate chestnut mixture in two batches.
  4. Carefully unroll the sponge and peel off parchment paper. Spread with half the chocolate chestnut mousse, then roll the sponge up again and transfer it on to a long serving plate, seam downward. You could also line a small board with silver foil and decorate the edge. Smooth the rest of the filling on top, then make lines along its length with a fork, swirling the ends to create a log effect, and making a few knots on the log too. Decorate it with your favorite Christmas figurines.
  5. Chill the roulade for an hour; if keeping it for longer than this, loosely cover it with plastic wrap and bring it back up to room temperature for 30 minutes before eating. Shortly before serving, shower the log with icing sugar.

Excerpted from Gorgeous Christmas by Annie Bell (Kyle Books). Copyright © 2009.

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