Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dylan's Bûche de Endor

Every year I make a Bûche de Noël for my almost-Christmas baby's birthday. This year, since we had a Star Wars theme going, I asked him if I should make it more of a snowy if it were from the planet Hoth. He said, "Mom, just make it a log from Endor and put Ewoks on it!" Duh. Okay. That's so much easier than what I was envisioning.

I ordered the Ewoks and Dylan was in charge of the marzipan. This bûche had marzipan mushrooms, plate fungus, holly leaves, fantasy ladybugs, and large red critter of some kind! Let's just say 'less is more' is not his motto. 

I use Nick Malgieri's recipe in Perfect Cakes as my starting point. You can also find his recipe on the FoodNetwork website. His chocolate genoise is, well, perfect. Actually his book is aptly named; there is not a recipe in there that I've made that hasn't turned out just divine. I usually make a marscarpone filling instead of the traditional coffee filling, but this year I used a chocolate ganache with bacon bits and a smear of unsweetened whipped cream. And I made it gluten-free for a few guests who are sensitive to gluten.

Chocolate Genoise Sheet
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 C gluten-free flour
1/3 C cornstarch
1/4 C alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa

Butter and line a 10" x 15" jelly-roll pan with buttered parchment.

Set rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.

Whisk the eggs, yolks, salt, and sugar together in a stainless steel bowl. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, test with your finger. Then whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume.

Stir together the flour, cornstarch, and cocoa. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until well risen, deep and firm to the touch. (Make sure the cake doesn't overbake and become too dry, or it will be hard to roll.)

Use a small paring knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Invert the cake onto a rack and let the cake cool right side up on the paper. Remove the paper when the cake is cool.

The filling...this year, as I mentioned, I smeared the cooled cake with unsweetened whipped cream and a chocolate-bacon ganache.* Yummy!

*And if you're wondering about the Chocolate-Bacon Ganache...
  • 6 oz high-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chipped or shaved
  • 1/4 C organic heavy whipping cream
  • 1 t maple syrup
  • ¼ C oven-crisped bacon, chopped
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder

In a small, heavy saucepan bring the whipping cream and maple syrup to a simmer. Place the chocolate in a separate bowl. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let stand for 3 minutes.

Whisk till smooth. Gently fold in the bacon bits and allow to cool. Place the ganache in the refrigerator till it's a spreadable consistency.

Cocoa Buttercream Frosting
4 large egg whites
1 C organic granulated sugar
24 T (3 sticks) butter, softened

Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in a stainless steel bowl. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot. Whip on medium speed until cooled. Add 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa. Beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth.

To assemble..
Turn the genoise layer over and peel away the paper. Invert onto a fresh piece of paper. Spread the layer with the fillings. Use the paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder. Slice a piece from one end and place it on top of the log to make a branch stub. Frost with the buttercream and decorate with marzipan.

Happy birthday, lil' Wombat! 
I can't believe you're ten already.

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