Chocolate and Pear Buche de Noel with Merengue Mushrooms

So that is Christmas done and dusted for another year! As we head rapidly towards the New Year I am conflicted on whether I should be reflecting on the year that just past or planning for the year that is about to come. Maybe a little of both. This year was a mixture of good and bad, I finished working in the hotel pastry kitchen due to ill health and I spent a year getting better and contemplating my navel (so to speak). I started blogging from which I met many wonderful people around the globe. I also started my own fledgling business  which I have my fingers crossed for success. On the very annoying side every mechanical thing from lawn mowers to cars continuously broke down costing a bucket load of money to repair – I am going to sound like my mother here, but they sure don’t make things like they used to :). We spent time renovating part of the house and although there is much more to do I find our small oasis has suddenly started to show it’s potential.

I learnt that life isn’t perfect, but I find that in my imperfect life I am happy and I guess that is a pretty good way to start the New Year.

I volunteered to organise dessert as part of our Christmas lunch with friends. My initial ideas were for trifle or a pavlova but after exhausting endless recipe blogs and books for ideas an e-mail popped into my in box from Stella @ Brave Tart, it was her latest post and there it was the answer to my Christmas dessert dilemma: an Egg Nog Yule Log – da da da!

I put my own twist on this dessert by making a chocolate sponge teamed with two of my favourite chocolate accompaniments: cinnamon and pear. The  filling is a pear and vanilla flavoured diplomat cream and I have covered the outside with chocolate ganache. Once the ganache was completely cold and firm I used Stella’s technique of brushing the top of the ganache with melted chocolate to give it that natural bark look. I also made the rather whimsical merengue mushrooms as per Stella’s recipe, don’t be daunted by these, they were actually incredibly easy to make.

Happy New Year xx

Chocolate and Pear Buche de Noel with Merengue Mushrooms

Adapted from Stella @ Brave Tart – Egg Nog Yule Log

Recipe

Note: Make the merengue mushrooms and the crème patissiere for the diplomat cream the day before. Make the ganache before making the chocolate sponge to allow it time to set to the right consistency for spreading.

In addition to the ingredients listed in each section below you will need: extra cocoa powder for dusting, 80gm dark chocolate for the bark on log, green dust food colour for the moss and cherries for decoration.

Merengue Mushrooms:

Recipe here.

Ganache

  • 400gm dark chocolate, chopped
  • 150gm pure cream.

Method:

Place chocolate in a heat proof bowl. In a small saucepan bring the cream to the boil, remove from heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Stir with a spoon or whisk until completely combined and the ganache is smooth and glossy.

Place in fridge until it reaches desired consistency to spread over the buche de noel. (It should be thick but soft and easy to spread not runny)

Chocolate Sponge

  • 140gm plain flour
  • 30gm unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 5 eggs
  • 170gm light brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 56ml vegetable oil
  • 30ml pear flavoured liqueur
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C. Spray a shallow sided baking tray with oil then line with baking paper. (my tray was 38cm x 25cm). Lightly spray the baking paper with oil.

Take two sheets of foil (longer than the baking tray) and fold the long edge together to form one large sheet – set aside for later use.

Place the flour, cocoa, cinnamon and baking powder in a bowl, mix together and set aside for later.

Fill 1/3 of a small sauce pan with water and place over a medium heat. Place the eggs, sugar and salt in a heat proof bowl and place over saucepan. Whisk the egg mixture for approx. 5 minutes until it is warm to the touch.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk for approx. 5 minutes on a medium speed until the mixture is foamy and light. Increase the speed and whisk for another 5 minutes or until the egg mixture is thick.

Reduce the speed back to medium and drizzle in the oil followed by the pear liqueur and vanilla.

Take the mixture off the stand mixer and sprinkle the flour mix over the top, fold in the flour mix gently so you don’t knock the air out of the egg mix.

Once the flour mix is combined pour evenly onto the baking tray. Use a spatula to gently spread the mix evenly on the tray.  I try to pour the mixture all over the tray so I don’t need to spread the mix too much at the end.

Bake for approx. 15 minutes until the cake is slightly firm to the touch but it is still moist.

Immediately after the sponge comes out of the oven cover it with the prepared foil. Try to make sure the foil doesn’t touch the sponge and crimp in the edges over the cake tin to seal in the heat.  Allow to cool completely before rolling.

While the sponge is cooling prepare the diplomat cream.

Diplomat Cream

1/2 Recipe of diplomat cream flavoured with pear liqueur (I used 25ml ). Once made, place in the fridge to firm up.

Note: Make the Crème patissiere the day before assembly.

Assembly

Remove foil from baking tray. Slide the sponge out of the tray but leave on the baking paper. (Note: the top of the sponge will be quite moist from being enclosed in the foil while cooling).

Spread 2 cups of diplomat cream in an even layer over the sponge leaving an inch around the edges to allow for spreading.

Starting at the long edge start rolling the sponge using the baking paper to turn the sponge over. Peel the baking paper off as you roll but use it to keep pulling the sponge tight while rolling. Once rolled, position the rolled sided down on a baking sheet and spread half the ganache over all of the sponge roll. Place in the fridge for at least an hour until ganache is cold and hard.

Cut the end of the sponge off on an angle to make the side branch ( I started at 8cm and finished the angle at 10cm).

Remove the large piece of sponge from the baking sheet and place on a serving tray. Be careful handling the sponge as it is easy to break. If it does break don’t worry as it will be covered with another layer of ganache so it can be disguised.

Position the smaller branch to the side of the large one, use ganache to join the two together.

Spread another layer of ganache over all of the sponge. No need to be super smooth you are looking for a really rustic look. Place log back in the fridge to harden completely.

Microwave 80gm dark chocolate until melted, make sure you melt it in 15 second intervals on the lowest heat.

Once the log is cold and hard, use a small clean (unused) paint brush to paint the chocolate over the log. Once you have painted over all of the log use any left over chocolate to go over different places on the log to build up the chocolate.

Refrigerate the log until cold and ready to serve.

Dust the log and plate with cocoa powder. Dust green food powder to resemble moss on a small piece of the bark and place the merengue mushrooms and cherries around the plate for decoration.

I warn you now the merengue mushrooms end up being the star of this dish!

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17 thoughts on “Chocolate and Pear Buche de Noel with Merengue Mushrooms

  1. sonia

    Hi There, This is a terrific post ! The mushroom cake is surely going to be a showstopper of any party ! It’s wonderful to see your each and every post. Hope to see more of your creative endeavors soon ! Wish you and your family a very Happy and Blessed New Year!!!
    Thanks & Regards, Sonia !!!

    Reply
  2. Kumar's Kitchen

    after looking at that beautiful yule log chocolate cake….we feel we have entered a posh French bakery filled with goodies…this treat looks so so professionally finished….hats off to your skills,thanks 🙂

    Reply
  3. Tiffany

    Sounds like 2013 was quite an eventful year, but I’m glad to hear that it sounds like you are coming out of your illness strong and healthy. That’s so great that you also started your own business, and I hope it’ll be a big success this new year. Your buche de noel looks great! I am always too intimidated to try making one. I love the way your mushrooms look too!

    Reply
  4. gotasté

    Happy New Year Karen! This is such a lovely creation. I don’t know how to make but certainly love eating it 🙂 I always believe things happened for a reason and I am glad the downs of what you have been through has allowed you to move on to a different stage in life and it is all good now. I’m so happy for you. Same here about my move away from home. Letting go of painful issues and holding on to the ones that will put things right. Here’s to a wonderful 2014! Warmest, danny

    Reply
      1. gotasté

        Thank you Karen. This city has never been at the top of my list but a chance that I choose to take for a change in life. Don’t think I will be here for good but it is certainly a great experience. Warmest, Danny

        Reply
  5. David

    What a beautiful Bûche de Nöel! I have only tried one and, while it tasted great, the coating I used was a disaster. I wanted it to be green so I could make a saguaro cactus bûche de Nöel…. It was terrible! (The saguaro is the iconic Arizona cactus that you always see in U.S. western movies…) Maybe I should just be happy with a dark chocolate one (with the pear cream!). Oh, and your mushrooms are gorgeous! Hmmmm … green food powder? Not sure I have heard of this here – but I bet green sugar or finely ground pistachios might work, too. Happy New Year to you and Mr. LG!

    Reply
    1. lemongrovecakediaries Post author

      You are so clever I love the cactus idea and as long as it tasted great that is all that matters in the end. The green food powder is a coloured dust suitable for dusting or painting (if you add liquid) on fondant, it would most likely be available in any store that specialised in cake decorating.

      Reply
  6. Gather and Graze

    Karen, I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve spent such a large part of this year recovering from illness – I hope very much that all is well now.
    I’m grateful however that 2013 brought you into this wonderful blogging world and has also given you time and space to take the leap into creating your own cake company! Very exciting times ahead in 2014 and beyond for the Lemon Grove Cake Company!
    Your Buche de Noel is fabulous and another fine example of your creative talent – so pleased I’ve got 12 months to build up the courage and skills to give it a go! LOVE the mushrooms and the mossy green powder. Does this tick off another one of your French Patisseries?
    Wishing you a very Happy New Year! 🙂 Margot

    Reply
    1. lemongrovecakediaries Post author

      Hi Margot, health is all good now and the silver lining is that I had time to think about what I wanted to do and so the lemon grove cake company was born 🙂 This wasn’t on my French Patisserie list, only yesterday I was looking at that list wondering what to make next…stay tuned 🙂 Even if you don’t try the Buche de Noel try the mushrooms they were amazing and a real show stopper. Happy New Year to you too!

      Reply
  7. saucygander

    Yay, I’ve been waiting to see a picture of the Buche. Beautiful work as usual, and one day when I figure out whipping egg whites properly I plan to make those mushrooms too. Enjoy NYE, we’ll be watching the fireworks! 😀

    Reply

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