A delicious tradition in France is to serve Buche de Noel for Christmas. It is a chocolate cake that is a replica of the Yule Log. It is made to appear as a branch or tree stump and is accented with marzipan mushrooms. It is well worth the effort, as it not only makes a stunning centerpiece, it tastes decadent and delicious.
Buche de Noel
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules or crystals
Chocolate buttercream frosting
1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons hot water
8 ounces almond paste
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
- Heat oven to 375°F.
- Line 15x10x1-inch pan with foil or waxed paper; grease with shortening or cooking spray.
- In small bowl, beat eggs until very thick and lemon colored.
- Pour eggs into large bowl; gradually beat in 1 cup granulated sugar.
- Beat in 1/3 cup water and the vanilla.
- Gradually add flour, baking powder and salt, beating just until batter is smooth.
- Pour into pan, spreading batter to corners.
- Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Immediately loosen cake from edges of pan; invert onto towel generously sprinkled with powdered sugar.
- Carefully remove foil.
- Trim off stiff edges of cake if necessary.
- While hot, carefully roll cake and towel from narrow end.
- Cool on cooling rack at least 30 minutes.
- In chilled medium bowl, beat all filling ingredients on high speed until stiff.
- Unroll cake; remove towel.
- Spread filling over cake.
- Roll up cake.
- In medium bowl, beat cocoa and butter on low speed until thoroughly mixed.
- Beat in powdered sugar until mixed.
- Beat in vanilla and enough of the hot water until frosting is smooth and spreadable.
- For tree stump, cut off a 2-inch diagonal slice from one end of cake.
- Attach stump to one long side using 1 tablespoon frosting.
- Frost cake with remaining frosting.
- With tines of fork, make strokes in frosting to look like tree bark
To make the marzipan
- Combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the sugar and beat on low speed until the sugar is almost absorbed.
- Add the remaining 1 cup sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
- Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary; it will still appear crumbly.
- Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.
- To make marzipan mushrooms:
- Roll 1/3 of the marzipan into a 6-inch long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.
- Roll half the lengths into balls.
- Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls (caps) to make mushrooms.
- Smudge with cocoa powder.
- To make holly leaves:
- Knead green color into 1/2 the remaining marzipan and roll it into a long cylinder.
- Flatten with the back of a spoon, then loosen it from the surface with a spatula.
- Cut into diamonds to make leaves, or use a cutter.
- To make holly berries:
- Knead red color into a tiny piece of marzipan.
- Roll into tiny balls.
- To make pine cones:
- knead cocoa powder into the remaining marzipan.
- Divide in half and form into 2 cone shapes.
- Slash the sides of cones with the points of a pair of scissors.