The month leading up to Christmas always creates a warm and fuzzy feeling inside as I get more and more excited about the Christmas celebrations. Everywhere you look Christmas paraphernalia looms and while that can get a bit overbearing (given that they start filling shelves in October these days) it doesn’t stop my eyes from twinkling like Christmas lights. Food, of course, preoccupies a large part of my Christmas planning. I spend a lot of time deciding on a menu and thinking of themes, colors (sparkly silver, crisp whites and pastel purples) and all the flavours and experiences I want to impart on our guests. Time is beautifully spent in the kitchen making assortments of gorgeous cookies for dunking into a warm cup of cocoa, pates and chutneys and let’s not forget the wonderful smell of homemade cinnamon rolls permeating through the house on crisp, early mornings. Christmas is about stopping and spending quality time with loved ones, recalling memories and sharing laughs around a burning fire, roasting chestnuts and sipping on copious amounts of red wine as the nutcracker plays in the background.
Growing up in Lebanon meant we always had a beautifully presented Bûche de Noël on the Christmas Eve table. I know what you’re thinking… That’s not Lebanese! But, since the French Mandate many in the country have adopted the tradition. I was asked to contribute a recipe for the beautiful G2kitchen Christmas edition and the following recipe is what I presented.
Bûche de Noël-Cocoa Genoise with a Chestnut & Brandy Cream Filling
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Sit time: 5 hours
Required: 15×10 inch jelly/swiss roll pan 2 20×10 layers of Parchment/Grease proof paper
For the genoise
- 120g muscovado sugar
- 85g all purpose flour
- 50g of butter, melted
- 30g cocoa powder
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
For the filling
- 435g chestnut puree
- 400ml brandy cream (or use same amount of double cream with 2-3 tablespoons of brandy)
- 80ml warm water
- 64g sugar
- 2 egg whites, beaten to stiff peak
- 1 packet of gelatin
For Decoration: Icing sugar, for the snow effect
To prepare the genoise:
- Preheat the oven to 400f/200c/6g. Lightly spray your Swiss roll pan with a bit of spam. Line with the wax paper.
- In one bowl mix together all your dry ingredients except the sugar. So combine flour, cocoa, baking soda.
- In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients together: butter and vanilla.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together for about 1 minute or so.
- In another bowl using clean whips, beat the egg whites till they are frothy and then set aside.
- Add your dry ingredients and wet ingredients (except for egg whites) together and gently whip for about 1 minute.
- Now fold the frothy egg whites into the rest of the ingredients, mix well.
- Spread the batter evenly onto the pan and bake for 10 minutes.
- Lay a moist towel on the counter and place a sheet of the parchment paper on top of it. Remove the cake from the oven and gently invert it onto the parchment paper then gently and slowly remove the parchment paper.
- Using the parchment paper and starting from the long side, roll the cake into the log shape and let it sit, seam side down, to cool for about 2-3 hours.
To prepare the chestnut brandy filling:
- Whip the chestnut puree once with a hand blender just to ensure no chunks.
- Now add brandy cream and sugar and whip for about a minute or two.
- In a mug, add the warm water and then sprinkle the gelatine stirring continuously until gelatine is dissolved. This should take about a minute or so.
- In a separate and clean bowl whip egg whites (using a clean whip) till you reach stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the rest of the mixture and set aside for 1-2 hours or till it sets.
Put it all together
Gently unroll the cooled cake log. Evenly coat the unrolled genoise with the chestnut brandy filling, but not all the way to either end, as it will spread out when you roll it. Roll it back into shape, sit it seam side down, cover with cling film and set in the fridge for 2 hours or till ready to serve. When you are ready to serve, cut a thin piece off each end, enough to show the pattern and then place on a decorative plate, sprinkle with confectioners/icing sugar and go wild!
Happy Holidays to all. Feast and be merry!