Sunday, December 28, 2008

Daring Bakers: A French Yule Log

     When I first looked at this Daring Bakers Challenge, I admit I was a little intimidated.  I gathered my courage and sifted through the many recipes/variations for the different elements, and it wasn't as difficult as I first thought.  This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.  They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.  I wish I could have made this at a time when I wasn't doing anything else so I could have given it more attention.  I did learn a lot about how to go about this from reading other Daring Bakers' comments in the forum (thanks everyone!).  Most of the elements went very well for me, but I had a few issues with the Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert and the Icing for the finish.  Here are the six elements I chose to make:

Element #1: Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)
Element #2: Dark Chocolate Mousse
Element #3: Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert
Element #4: Coconut Crisp Insert (instead of the Praline Feuillete version)
Element #5: Vanilla Creme Brulee Insert
Element #6: White/Milk Chocolate Icing

     I didn't have any trouble with the Dacquoise Biscuit or the Dark Chocolate Mousse (my favorite part of the whole thing!).  The Dark Chocolate Ganache was also good, as was the Creme Brulee.  I made the Coconut Crisp Insert much too thick, which made slicing the final product difficult.  I also did not really appreciate the taste of it and I think that had something to do with the white chocolate I used and the Special K.  If I did it again, I would probably made my own praline (do the chocolate version) and use Rice Krispies instead.  I intended to make the icing with white chocolate also, but I didn't have enough so I mixed some dark chocolate with it and ended up with something like milk chocolate, but again the taste was a little off in my opinion.  However, the combination of the all the elements was good, and everyone seemed to like it.  I am posting the recipes for the elements I chose, except for the Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert where I have included the Coconut Crisp (with white chocolate) version I used and the other option using praline and milk chocolate.  Don't forget to look around and see what other Daring Bakers have done.  They are awesome!

Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)
Preparation time:  10 mn + 15 mn for baking
Equipment:  2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10x15  jelly-roll pan, parchment paper
Note:  You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal 
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar 
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites    
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
1.  Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2.  Sift the flour into the mix.
3.  Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff. 
4.  Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5.  Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6.  Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm). 
7.  Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden. 
8.  Let cool and cut to the desired shape. 

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse
Preparation time:  20mn
Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula 
Note:  You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.  Gelatin is the gelifying agent in all of the following recipes, but if you would like to use agar-agar, here are the equivalencies: 8g powdered gelatin = 1 (0.25 oz) envelope powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp Agar-Agar. 1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder.

2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin                     
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar        
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup        
0.5 oz (15g) water    
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).  
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer. 
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.
5.  Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6.  Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert
Preparation time: 10mn
Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.
Note:  Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar            
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream    (35% fat content)    
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2. While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling.  Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth. 
4. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny. 

Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert
Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)
Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin. 
Note:  Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. They are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Special note: If you use one of the substitutes for the gavottes, you should halve the quantity stated, as in use 1oz of any of these cereals instead of 2.1oz.
If you want to make your own praline, please refer back to the Daring Baker Challenge Recipe from July 2008.

To make 2.1oz / 60g of gavottes (lace crepes - recipe by Ferich Mounia):
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk             
2/3 Tbsp (8g) unsalted butter                
1/3 cup – 2tsp (35g) all-purpose flour        
1 Tbsp / 0.5 oz (15g) beaten egg
1 tsp (3.5g) granulated sugar
½ tsp vegetable oil
1. Heat the milk and butter together until butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat.
2. Sift flour into milk-butter mixture while beating, add egg and granulated sugar. Make sure there are no lumps. 
3. Grease a baking sheet and spread batter thinly over it. 
4. Bake at 430°F (220°C) for a few minutes until the crepe is golden and crispy. Let cool.

Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete (chocolate version):
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate        
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter        
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1 oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or 1 oz rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K  

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. 
2. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard. 

Coconut Crisp Insert (white chocolate version)
3.5 oz (100g) white chocolate                
1 oz (1/3 cup/25g) shredded coconut
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) unsalted butter        
2.1 oz (60g) lace crepes or 1 oz rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K

1. Spread the coconut on a baking tray and bake for 5-10 minutes at 375°F (190°C) to toast (a different temperature might work better for you with your own oven).  
2. Melt the white chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Stir until smooth and add the toasted coconut. 
3. Add the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert
Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking
Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper
Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...

1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)        
½ cup (115g) whole milk            
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar 
1 vanilla bean

1. Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour. 
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well. 
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
Tartelette says: You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won't matter as much since it will be covered with other things)....BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:
- you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done
- you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better
- it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bath
Now...since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.
5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

Element #6 White Chocolate Icing
Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)
Equipment:  Small bowl, small saucepan
Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.

1.5 gelatin sheets or 3g / 1/2Tbsp powdered gelatin                
3.5 oz (100g) white chocolate            
2 Tbsp (30g) unsalted butter                
1/3 cup (90 g) whole milk
1 2/3 Tbsp (30g) glucose or thick corn syrup

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Coarsely chop the chocolate and butter together.
3. Bring the milk and glucose syrup to a boil.
4. Add the gelatin.
5. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until smooth.
6. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

Assembling Your Yule Log
I chose the following method for assembling my log, using a 9x5 inch loaf pan.  You can put the Dacquoise biscuit on the top and bottom, but I chose to do just one, on the bottom.  If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN (such as in a loaf pan) with ONE piece of Dacquoise on the BOTTOM ONLY the order is:
  1. Mousse (1/3 of prepared amount)
  2. Creme Brulee Insert 
  3. Mousse (another 1/3)
  4. Praline/Crisp Insert
  5. Mousse (final 1/3)
  6. Ganache Insert
  7. Dacquoise
     I would recommend making the elements in the following order to help you have everything ready to assemble at the right time:
1. Creme Brulee (freeze then cut)
2. Mouse (refrigerate at least 1 hour)
3. Praline insert (freeze then cut)
Then assemble these 3 items (see above for order of assembly) and freeze for 2-3 hours until set.

Now make these:
4. Dacquoise Biscuit (allow to cool and cut)
5. Ganace Insert (pipe on previous frozen Yule log)
Finish assembly and FREEZE UNTIL NEXT DAY.
6. Make icing, remove log from mold and coat.

This was a fun challenge and I definitely got to make a bunch of things I've never made before and I learned a lot.  So be daring!  You can make anything you want if you put your mind to it.


Claire said...

Oooo...looks good! that crisp is thick...and I thought mine was hard to cut through, I bet that was almost impossible! Great job!!!!

Lorraine E said...

Yum that looks great! I also made the crisp too thick too which as you mentioned made cutting it difficult as I got it confused with another layer lol. Oh well! :)

Mrs Ergül said...

Coconut components are cool!

Jo said...

Great job on your yule log and wishing you a very happy new year.

Nikita's Mom said...

I bet that crisp is soooo good by itself! excellent job!

Sara said...

Yum, this looks really delicious!

Tartelette said...

Looks great Jessica! A real DB spirit was required and you succeeded! Bravo!

Hilda said...

Even if you think you didn't devote enough time to this it looks great and I hope was enjoyed by all. Good job tackling this to begin with! Have a very Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

I am glad to hear my comments helped someone! Congratulations on completing the challenge! Your log sure looks tasty.

Happy Holidays!

silverrock said...

Your yule-log looks lovely! I can taste the chocolatey goodness right now :) Keep up the amazing bakes!

Amy said...

That looks fantastic! Best to you in the New Year,


Barbara Bakes said...

I agree, the combination of flavors is what makes this great!

Hannah said...

Putting coconut into the crisp insert sounds like a delicious idea! You did a great job on this challenge. :)

Lynn said...

I really like that you can distinguish your layers. I think that is a plus, in mine, they blended together a bit, too much mousse I believe. I think your yule log looks yummy! Well done.

Anonymous said...

Looks yummy!!

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

You CAN do anything if you put your mind to it. Your yule log looks wonderful. Very nice job! Happy New Year!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Great job! Nice layers and I love the thick crisp insert! I bet coconut tasted wonderful with the chocolate!

Cristine said...

Looks great!!! It definately was a challenge, especially with everything going on in December! Great job!

Maria said...

You did a great job on this challenge!

Jess said...

Great looking log!! I liked the mousse layer too, but my favorite was the cinnamon ganache...It was super good! Nice gingerbread house too!!