Bûche de Noël meringuée choco/framboise // Choc-raspberry Yule Log with meringue

Final Yule log

Final Yule log

This year, for the first time ever, I decided to try my hand at a yule log to take to Christmas lunch. The bûches de Noël I’m familiar with, however, tend to be a bit heavy for an Australian Christmas: lots of heavy chocolate and creamy mousse. Neither of which sounded particularly appealing in the middle of a warm summer.

The hunt was on, therefore, for a light, summer-appropriate recipe. Inspired by Evasion culinaire’s excellent-sounding bûche chocolat framboisesI decided to try my hand at the biscuit cuillère/chocolate/raspberry combination. Loving the look of meringue logs, I was keen to incorporate that element, too, particularly since the biscuit cuillère called for nearly twice as many egg yolks as whites. It would have the added advantage of cutting down on the ganache, which I tend to find overpowering at the best of times.

We had a few oven mishaps on the day, so this is my best approximation of the recipe. A friend has already put in an order for one as a birthday cake so I’ll have to revise as appropriate at a later date.

Ingredients

For the biscuit cuillère (d’après Evasion culinaire at the link above):

  • 9 egg yolks
  • 5 egg whites
  • 85 g flour (plain)
  • 130 g caster sugar

For the ganache:

  • 180g dark cooking chocolate
  • 100ml pure cream
  • 20g butter

For the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 150g-250g caster sugar

For syrup, filling and decoration:

  • Crushed frozen raspberries
  • 8 or so whole rapsberries
  • 40g raspberry jam
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Mint leaves
  1. Biscuit cuillère: Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius. Beat the (5) egg whites into stiff peaks. As soon as they begin to seize, add the sugar in small quantities until you obtain a stiff, glossy meringue. Add the egg yolks while continuing to beat for about 20 seconds. Sift in the flour, gently mixing it in with a spatula to avoid deflating the mixture. Spread the mixture onto a baking tray (I recommend the use of greased baking paper or a silicone baking sheet) and bake for no more than 12 minutes or until set. Be careful not to overcook the biscuit – you’ll need to roll it later. (This step was difficult for me, as the oven died in the first minute so I had to finish it with a grill, fan & blowtorch combo. Will revise with working oven.) When you remove it from the oven, cover with a clean teatowel to avoid too much drying out.
  2. Ganache: Heat the cream in a small – medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate, broken into chunks. Whisk until completely incorporated, then add the butter, whisking again until you get a smooth mixture. Reserve. (If you’d like to skip the meringue and cover with ganache, use the recipe at Evasion Culinaire instead. In that case, half of the ganache should be used for filling, the rest to cover in lieu of the meringue.)
  3. Syrup: Heat the jam & water in a small saucepan until fully dissolved.
  4. Preliminary assembly: Turn the cake out onto a generous amount of baking paper or a silicone baking sheet. Coat one side generously with the syrup, using a pastry brush. Spread evenly with ganache (reserving just a little for final assembly), then cover with the crushed raspberries. Roll the cake gently along the length, using the paper or baking sheet to hold. (If you’ve ever made sushi, this technique should be fairly familiar to you.) You should obtain a long, thin log. Wrap the log in baking paper, twisting the ends to secure. Chill in a fridge to set.  (This video shows the assembly technique well.)
  5. Meringue: [Start the final assembly before the meringue, so that you can use the meringue straight away.] Add a pinch of salt to (4) egg whites at room temperature. Beat until peaks form, then slowly add the sugar in small quantities (while still beating). Continue beating until you have a stiff, glossy mixture that will hold its shape well. Use immediately.
  6. Final assembly: Unwrap the chilled log and slice the ends off diagonally, reattaching one at the side and one on top to resemble a log. Use the ganache you reserved from the preliminary assembly to “glue” the pieces in position.

    Assembled ready for meringue

    Assembled ready for meringue

  7. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag with a star nozzle. Pipe meringue over the entire log, swirling at the ends to resemble natural wood. Once the entire log is covered, use a creme brulee torch/cooking torch to crisp the meringue to golden brown. Don’t be concerned if it singes: the taste will be reminiscent of campfire marshmallows. SAMSUNG
  8. Dress with the mint leaves and whole raspberries.

    Decoration complete

    Decoration complete

Porc aux lentilles

Phoenix’ family visited recently for a BBQ, and left most of a bottle of white wine. What else to do than cook up a lovely dish of porc aux lentilles, with guest stars mustard and white wine? For me, it reminds me of France, and the recipe I use is from Marmiton. A translation – with modifications – follows.

Ingredients:

  • 2 nice pork filets mignons
  • 125g diced bacon (or 1-2 rashers)
  • 3 French shallots (or one large brown onion, if relatively sweet)
  • 2 carrots (or 4 baby carrots)
  • 1 celery branch (or 3, if you’d like to up the vege content – I do!)
  • 1 leek
  • 4-6 button mushrooms (optional)
  • 400g lentils
  • 2 dessert spoons flour
  • 1 dessert spoon mustard
  • 400ml dry white wine
  • bouquet garni or stock cube

Directions:

  1. Finely chop the vegetables, keeping the shallots to one side. Brown the pork, bacon and shallots, cooking for 5-10 mins.
  2. Add the vegetables, white wine and herbs/stock. Cover and simmer for approximately 35 mins.
  3. Reserve the pork fillets, then drain the lentils and add them to the vegetable mix. Mix the flour, mustard, and a little water, and add it to the mix. Simmer, uncovered, to thicken.
  4. Slice the pork fillets and serve on a bed of the vegetables.