Happy Holidays with Bûche de Noël

Happy New Year!!! С Новым Годом!!!

Even though NyQuil was my drink of choice (paired with some other less fortunate selections), the holiday celebrations still brought so much of that child-like excitement! Well, it helped having two little ones running around, going crazy about Santa, reindeer and Christmas lights!

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In December we baked so much, we probably went through a ton of butter… what wouldn’t one do to spread the holiday cheer? I decided to end the madness with this beautiful Bûche de Noël.  It’s so rich and creamy that after indulging in just one slice you would feel like you are ready to kick start those New Year resolutions and quit desserts for ever and ever (or at least a few weeks), as it’s hard to beat this amazingness.

/The recipe is adopted from Lisabeth Prueitt’s Tartine/

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BÛCHE DE NOËL

INGREDIENTS:

Sponge cake:

  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2/3 cup cake flour, sifted twice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Buttercream:

  • 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tbs granulated sugar
  • ½ cup egg whites
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup coffee, brewed at double strength

Meringue mushrooms:

  • ¼ cup + 1 tbs confectioners’ sugar
  • ¾ tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 pinch of cream of tartar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar

Coffee syrup:

  • ½ cup coffee, brewed at double strength
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Almond “Bark”

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 6 oz (170 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ cup heavy cream

Pistachio “Moss”

  • ¼ cup Pistachio nuts

DIRECTIONS:

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Preheat the oven to 375⁰F/190⁰C. Spray baking pan with borders with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.  Spray the paper with cooking spray.

Make the batter. Mix egg yolks and ½ cup of granulated sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on high speed until the foam is 3 times its original volume and falls in thick ribbons when the whisk is lifted.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl, set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean bowl and beat them with a clean whisk attachment on medium speed until frothy.  Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup of granulated sugar and continue to whip until medium peaks form when the whisk is lifted.

Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture with a rubber spatula in 2 or 3 additions. Scatter all flour, vanilla, and salt over the batter and fold it just long enough to blend the flour evenly.

Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread gently with a spatula. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the top is golden brown and the edges star to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Make the roll. While the cake is baking, sift confectioners’ sugar over a clean flat-weave towel. When the cake is finished baking, insert it onto the sugar coated cloth.  Immediately remove the pan and parchment paper and, starting at a long edge, roll the cake into a log with the towel inside it.  Let cool completely.

Make the buttercream.

Cut the butter into 1 tbs chunks and set aside.

Combine the granulated sugar, egg whites, and salt in a small pan and cook on the lowest heat setting whisking constantly until the egg whites are hot to the touch (for about 4 minutes). Pour the mixture into a bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high speed until it becomes very stiff – for about 5 minutes.

Add butter 1 chunk at a time, beating on medium speed waiting for each piece to fully incorporate before adding another one. Add coffee and beat until all incorporated. Set aside.

Make ahead: you can make butter cream a few days before using.  Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.  Bring to room temperature and beat with mixer till smooth before using.

Make meringue mushrooms. 

Preheat oven to 175°F (80°C).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift together confectioners’ sugar and flour, set aside. In a small bowl combine egg white and cream of tartar and beat with whisk attachment until the egg white holds soft peaks.  Slowly add granulated sugar and beat until very stiff.  Add flour mixture and mix with a rubber spatula, working very quickly.  Place the mixture into a plastic bag, cut a little corner out and pipe out mushroom hats and legs to the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for at least 4 hours.

Make coffee syrup.

Combine coffee and sugar until sugar is dissolve.  Let cool before using.

Make “bark”.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Toast almonds in the oven for about 5 minutes, stirring a couple times with a wooden spoon. Place chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.  Heat up the cream to just before boiling and pour over the chocolate.  Wait a couple minutes before mixing everything until all chocolate is dissolved.  Mix in the almonds.  Refrigerate until the mixture thickens (for at least 15 minutes).

Make “moss”. 

Process pistachios in a coffee grinder until powdered.

Assemble the log.

Place the cake on a plastic wrap.  Apply the syrup with a brush.  Spread the butter cream over and gently roll into a log.  Refrigerate for about 2 hours. Using a sharp knife, cut diagonally edges of the log.  Transfer it to the serving plate.  Add the edges to the sides of the log.  Apply the bark, and place mushrooms on top attaching the hats to the legs with a little bit of the “bark” cream.  Sift a little bit of “snow” confectioners’ sugar and chocolate powder on top.  Sprinkle moss over the log and around it.

Enjoy!

Seeded Crepes

I may sound like someone who just found out about Windex, washed the room with it, and was surprised to discover that one of the walls was actually made of a see-through glass!  I’m ready to scream like the OxiClean Man!

What can I say? I am not into infomercials, and I didn’t grow up in this country.  In Russia my dad and I were the cleaning supplies of the household.   When moved to the States, I didn’t bother testing every product available out there… 

In true spring spirits, my mom and I have been into detailed cleaning.  Well, she has been playing with the kids, while I was muscling through dirt…  Dreading stove scrubbing, I went to Google, hoping for some magic solution (like tooth paste or nail polish remover) and was shocked to discover I’ve been missing on some serious chemicals! Eureka –after simple spraying and wiping I cannot recognize my kitchen! 

Life is good!  Life is even better when French-style vegan crepes are cooked on a sparkling clean stove!

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SEEDED CREPES WITH TOMATO-MUSHROOM FILLING (adopted from Vegetarian Times magazine)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 tbs ground flax seeds
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup almond milk, divided
  • 3 tbs raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • 2 tbs flaxseeds
  • 3 tsp poppy seeds

FILLING

  • 3 stalks fresh parsley
  • 3 large springs fresh oregano
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 2 tbs olive oil divided
  • 2 lbs button mushrooms, cubed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled, and diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 6 tsp goat cheese (optional – skip for a vegan version)
  • Handful of sprouts of alfalfa sprouts
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Make crepe batter: mix ground flaxseeds with warm water and let rest for about 15 minutes.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour and salt, add olive oil, flaxseed mixture, and 1 cup of almond milk.  Once all ingredients are incorporated, mix in the seeds, cover the bowl, and let rest in the fridge for 30 min-24 hours.

Make filling: tie parsley, oregano, and bay leaf with kitchen twine to make bouquet garni.  Grease frying pan with 1 tbs of olive oil, and sauté mushrooms, onions, and garlic for about 10 minutes. Set aside.  Grease a pan with the rest of the olive oil, and sauté tomatoes with the bouquet garni in them uncovered, so that most liquid evaporates (for about 10 minutes).  Discard bouquet garni, and mix the tomatoes with mushrooms.

Make crepes: Preheat the oven to 200⁰F/90⁰C.  Preheat a crepe pan, remove batter from the fridge, and thin it with remaining almond milk.  Whisk well.  Pour about ¾ cup of batter on the pan, and bake for about 2 minutes on each side. Once the crepe is done, place it on a baking sheet, and leave in the oven until ready to serve.

 

To serve: lay a crepe on a plate, place filling in the middle, sprinkle with goat cheese and add sprouts.  Fold the crepe, and sprinkle it with fresh chopped parsley.

Bon appetite! 

 

 

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