Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December DB's challenge: French Yule Log!

I present to you the French Yule Log!!

So to call this months challenge a challenge is an understatement. This could have been one of the hardest things I have ever made! One of the hardest but also one of the best! This could have been the best dessert I have had, at least top 5. It was very time consuming, let me tell you. And it made me make things that I have never made before such as creme brulee, mouse, ganache insert, and a crisp (what was delish!) All of the components worked so wonderfully together. I choose to do an almond dacquoise (biscuit), vanilla mouse, chocolate cinnamon ganache insert, white chocolate coconut praline crisp, vanilla creme brulee, and milk chocolate icing. It was so delish!! I always get such a wonderful sense of accomplishment after completing such a dessert because I put alot of work into it. I was very please with how it tasted. While I was making this dessert I kept saying "this better be worth it!!" and let me tell you, it was! So if you have a couple days where you have nothing going on, try it out! I will post the entire recipe so you can see all of the wonderful flavor combinations you could do.



Here is the creamy vanilla mouse. It was super delicious and I think
I will make it for other desserts in the future.

Getting ready to assemble!

Layer 1: the almond cake is under neath with the first layer of mouse on top.
Now for the creme brulee layer...

The ganache layer with the crisp, mouse, and everything else underneath!
Tada! Topped off with one more layer of almond cake. Into the freezer!I was so worried it wouldn't come out of the mold properlly but it came
out perfect!


Topped off with milk chocolate icing.Here is a look so you can see all the layers.
So from the bottom up we have:
1. almond cake
2. chocolate cinnamon ganache
3. vanilla mouse
4.creme brulee
5. vanilla mouse
6.almond cake
7. chocolate icing.
Bon appetit!


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


FRENCH YULE LOG OR ENTREMETS RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand


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 10”x15” 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.

Ingredients:
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.

Variations on the Almond Dacquoise listed above:

Hazelnut Dacquoise
Substitute the same amount of hazelnut meal for the almond meal.

Chocolate Dacquoise
Add 3 tablespoons of sifted unsweetened cocoa powder into the almond meal/caster sugar mix in Step #1 of the Almond Dacquoise.

Lemon Dacquoise
Add the zest of 1 Lemon after the flour in Step #2 of the Almond Dacquoise.

Coconut Dacquoise
Substitute ¼ cup of almond meal and add 2/3 cup shredded coconut in Step #1 of the Almond Dacquoise.


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.
In the Vanilla Mousse variation, pastry cream is made to the same effect.
In the Mango Mousse variation, Italian meringue is made to the same effect. Italian meringue is a simple syrup added to egg whites as they are beaten until stiff. It has the same consistency as Swiss meringue (thick and glossy) which we have used before in challenge recipes as a base for buttercream.
The Whipped Cream option contains no gelatin, so beware of how fast it may melt.
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.

Ingredients:
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.

Variations on the Dark Chocolate Mousse listed above:

White Chocolate Mousse
Substitute the same quantity of white chocolate for the dark chocolate in the mousse recipe listed above.

Milk Chocolate Whipped Cream (Chantilly):
(Can be made the day before and kept in the fridge overnight)
2/3 cup (160g) heavy cream 35% fat
7.8 oz (220g) milk chocolate
2 1/3 tsp (15g) glucose or thick corn syrup
1 1/3 cup (320g) heavy cream 35% fat

1. Chop the chocolate coarsely.
2. Heat the 160g of cream to boiling and pour over the chocolate and glucose syrup.
3. Wait 30 seconds then stir the mix until smooth. Add the remaining cream.
4. Refrigerate to cool, then whip up.


Vanilla Mousse
2/3 cup (160g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
2/3 cup (160g) whole milk
1 vanilla bean
4 medium-sized egg yolks
3 oz (6 Tbsp / 80g) granulated sugar
3 Tbsp (25g) cornstarch, sifted
4g / 2 tsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
1 cup (240g) whipping cream (35% fat content)

Make a pastry cream:
1. Pour the milk and 2/3 cup cream into a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean halves into milk and put the vanilla bean in as well.
2. Heat to boiling, then turn the heat off, cover and let infuse for at least 30 minutes. Then remove the vanilla bean.
3. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until white, thick and fluffy.
4. Add the cornstarch, beating carefully to ensure that there are no lumps. While whisking vigorously, pour some of the milk into the yolk mixture to temper it.
5. Put infused milk back on the stove on medium heat. Pour yolk mixture back into the milk while whisking vigorously. Keep whisking vigorously until mixture thickens considerably.
6. As soon as the mixture starts to boil, leave on for only 2 more minutes. (The recipe says you should remove the vanilla bean at this time but in the interest of no one getting burned, that can be done after you take the pastry cream off the stove.)
7. Once removed from the heat, cover the pastry cream by putting plastic film directly on the surface of the cream (this prevents it from forming a thick and unappetizing skin as it cools). Let cool at room temperature.
8. Soften the gelatin in cold water and melt in a small saucepan with 1 tsp of water OR melt in the microwave for 1 second (do not boil). Whisking vigorously, pour the cooled pastry cream over it.
9. Whip the 1 cup whipping cream until stiff and add gradually to the pastry cream (DO NOT WHISK). Blend delicately with a spatula (DO NOT WHISK).


Mango Mousse
2 medium-sized egg yolks
2 Tbsp (17g) cornstarch
1/3 cup (80g) whipping cream
7 oz (200g) mango puree
3.5 oz (1/2 cup / 100g) granulated sugar
1.3 oz (36g) water
2.5 gelatin leaves or 5g / 2+1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium-sized egg whites

1. Beat the egg yolks with the cornstarch until thick, white and fluffy.
2. Heat the cream in a medium saucepan and once hot, pour a small amount over the egg yolks while whisking vigorously.
3. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the rest of the cream in the saucepan, add the mango puree and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens considerably, at least 3-5 mn. Let cool to lukewarm temperature.
4. Make an Italian Meringue: Cook the sugar and water on medium heat until temperature reaches 244°F (118°C) when measured with a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, test the temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water. If it forms a soft ball, you’ve reached the proper temperature.
4a. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Pour the sugar syrup into the whites in a thin stream while continuing to whisk vigorously (preferably with a mixer for sufficient speed). Whisk/beat until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The meringue should be thick and glossy.
5. Soften the gelatin in cold water and melt in a small saucepan with 1 tsp of water OR melt in the microwave for 1 second (do not boil).
6. Put the melted gelatin in a mixing bowl and, while whisking vigorously, pour the lukewarm mango cream over the gelatin.
7. Carefully blend the Italian meringue into the mango mixture.



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.

Ingredients:
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.

Variations on the Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert listed above:

White Chocolate Ganache Insert
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
5 oz (135g) white chocolate, finely chopped
4.5 oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small sauce pan 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.


Dark-Milk Ganache Insert
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
2.7 oz (75g) milk chocolate
3.2 oz (90g) dark chocolate
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.


Cinammon-Milk Ganache Insert
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream
A pinch of cinnamon
2.7 oz (75g) milk chocolate, finely chopped
3.2 oz (90g) 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. Heat the cream with the cinnamon (use the quantity of cinnamon you want to infuse the cream, a pinch is the smallest amount suggested) 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 milk and 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 (or I use an empty bottle of olive oil).

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. To our knowledge 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:
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or 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.


Variations on the Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert listed above:

Chocolate Crisp Insert
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) unsalted butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
1 oz. (25g) lace crepes or 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
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 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...

Ingredients:
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.

Variations on the Vanilla Crème Brulée insert listed above:

Chocolate Creme Brulée Insert
½ cup + 1 2/3 Tbsp (140g) whole milk
2/3 cup + 1tsp (140g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
1/3 cup (25g) unsweetened cocoa powder
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
1.4 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar

1. Heat the milk and cream to just boiling. Add the cocoa powder.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the cocoa 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 Dark 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.

Ingredients:
4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. 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.

Variations on the Dark Chocolate Icing listed above:

Milk Chocolate Icing
1.5 gelatin sheets or 3g / 1/2Tbsp powdered gelatin
4.2 oz (120g) milk chocolate
2 Tbsp (30g) butter
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
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 cream 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.


White Chocolate Icing
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.



How To Assemble your French Yule Log

Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.
THIS IS FOR UNMOLDING FROM UPSIDE DOWN TO RIGHT SIDE UP.
You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.


1) Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.

You have two choices for Step 2, you can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log as in version A or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log as in version B:

2A) Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.
3A) Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4A) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
5A) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6A) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
7A) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8A) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9A) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10A) Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

OR

2B) Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
3B) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
4B) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5B) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
6B) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
7B) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8B) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
9B) Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with TWO pieces of Dacquoise the order is:
1) Dacquoise
2) Mousse
3) Creme Brulee Insert
4) Mousse
5) Praline/Crisp Insert
6) Mousse
7) Ganache Insert
8) Dacquoise

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with ONE piece of Dacquoise on the BOTTOM ONLY the order is:
1) Mousse
2) Creme Brulee Insert
3) Mousse
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Mousse
6) Ganache Insert
7) Dacquoise

If you are doing the assembly RIGHT SIDE UP in a springform pan the order is:
1) Dacquoise
2) Ganache Insert
3) Mousse
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Mousse
6) Creme Brulee Insert
7) Mousse
8 OPTIONAL) Dacquoise

THE NEXT DAY...
Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc...
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Haven't had enough calories yet during this lovely Christmas season? Try these butter tarts!!


These butter tarts are super yummy and not very shy on the calorie side either. You will know what I mean as soon as you see how much butter goes into them, but it is so delish! I made them a few weeks ago for a family dinner and people raved about them. One cousin imparticular was very taken with these yummy bars. The crust was very buttery and had a very lovely texture like a shortbread should have, not too crumbly and still moist. The filling was fabulous and I do recommend adding the nuts like the recipe suggests. I used to be a "no nut in my dessert" type of person but I am realizing how wonderful it can be! The whole dessert is very goey and soft that the nuts give it a good crunch and texture. However, I did not add raisins, but if your a lover of raisins go for it! I am just not there yet...Enjoy! You can find the recipe courtesy of The Joy of Baking here

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thanksgiving dinner take 2: Curtesy of Kelsey Nixon



A few weeks ago now I took a cooking class with my mom from Kelsey Nixon who made it to the final four of last seasons "The Next Food Network Star". She is as fun and bubbly in person as she is on tv and will definitely do very well in life. She did a class featuring a quick and easy Thanksgiving meal and after tasting how delicious it was wanted to give it a wack myself.

So let's begin with the Turkey: Instead of a whole turkey she did a turkey breast then made an herb compound butter with lots of garlic, fresh thyme and rosemary. Then she sprinkled it with some Italian sesasoning. Fabulous! It turned out very moist and super flavorful. This was the first turkey dish I had every made and it turned out pretty good which means that this is definitely a full proof recpe!

Now for the cranberry sauce: Let's just put it this way, I have never eaten cranberry sauce on my turkey till this recipe came along. It is wonderful, the orange and the cinnamin pair so perfectly with the cranberry that anyone will love it.

Sweet potatoes: So don't laugh but I just found out that yams and sweet potatoes are two completely different things. I am not a yam fan but I loved how she prepared her sweet potatoes. Roasting them with the garlic and thyme was very delicious. So delicious that I have made them since.

So if you are wanting to make a wonderful turkey for your family dinner and want to go even further and pair some cranberry sauce with it and sweet potatoes, try these recipes out! They are most definitely full proof and very flavorful.

ROSEMARY ROASTED TURKEY BREAST

Ingredients
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup garlic, minced
½ bunch rosemary, chopped
½ bunch thyme, chopped
1 T. Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1 (6-8) lb turkey breast bone in

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. In a small bowl, mix the butter, garlic, rosemary and thyme; set aside
3. Wash the turkey inside and out; pat dry. Remove any large fat deposits. Loosen the skin from the breast. This is done by slowly working your fingers between the breast and the skin. Work it loose, being careful not to tear the skin.
4. Using your hands or spatula, spread a generous amount of the rosemary mixture under the breast skin. Rub the remainder of the butter mixture over the outside of the breast. Use toothpicks to seal skin over any exposed breast meat. Season the outside of the Turkey breast with Italian seasoning, paprika, black pepper and kosher salt.
5. Arrange the carrot, celery and onion inside the bag to create a base for the turkey to sit on. Place the turkey on top of the vegetables breast side up. Roast in the preheated over 1 ¼ to 2 hours, or until the internal temp of the bird reaches 170 degrees.
6. Allow turkey to rest in bag for 10-15 minutes before removing from bag and carving.

THYME ROASTED SWEET POTATOES
yield: 6-8

(sorry! I can't believe I didn't take a pic of the potatoes! Guess you will have to make them and see how they turn out yourselves!)

Ingredients
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
1/4 cup olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minces
1/3 c. fresh thyme leaves, plus 6 thyme psrigs for garnish
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 450. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and toss. Arrange potato slices in single layer on heavy weight rimmed baking sheet.

Place on top rack of oven and roast until tender and slightly browned, about 25-30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temp, garnish with thyme sprigs.

Cranberry Sauce
yield: 2.25 cups

1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
1 12-oz package fresh or frozen cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine sugar and orange juice in a med saucepan. Bring to boil' add cranberries and cinnamon, return to boil. Reduced heat and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and cool completely at room temp. Refrigerate until serving time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Need a moment? Try one of these yummy melting moment cookies!



These cookies are fabulous. I have been looking for a good melt in your mouth butter cookie and I found it with this recipe, courtesy of The Joy of Baking. Next time I make them I want to make a cream cheese frosting to put on the top instead of powdered sugar. But I think the powdered sugar was a fun touch because it looked like snow which here in Utah we haven't seen yet this winter! I made these for my mother in laws book group and the ladies really enjoyed them. They are super easy to make so try them out! You can find the recipe here

Friday, December 5, 2008

And now...the debut of my mini cupcakes!


After being inspired by minis cupcakes in Utah I decided to make my own creations. I used my devils food cupcake recipe that I used for my Halloween cuppies, and the I used a cream cheese frosting. I wanted them to have a really fun top so I filled the cupcake liners almost to the top so they could really over flow. It worked out pretty well. I also tried some new piping techniques that I am really excited about! I have always wanted to know how to do a rose type of flower and I played around with a few tips till I got the one I was looking for. So enjoy the following pics that document my very first mini cupcakes! They were so fun to make that I'm sure you will see a lot more popping up on my blog!

Here is the rose piping I did. I was really happy with how it
turned out considering it was my first. Next time I will hopefully perfect it
even more! I think these cuppies would be really cute for a wedding or special occasion.

My mini army of cupcakes all lined up!
And a top view of all the different piping.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hope everyone had a happy thanksgiving!


I hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving full of family and love and most importantly wonderful food! This year we had Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family. It was such a wonderful meal. The turkey was perfection and the stuffing was so flavorful. I couldn't have been happier until I saw what was up for dessert! An assortment of 19-yes-19 homemade pies!! It was such a lovely sight to see. On the Paras side we kind of pride ourselves with making homemade everything, it would be very brave to show up with something store bought at a family event:) I started off with some of my moms coconut cream then sort of sampled every other one I could! It was such a wonderful feast that it will be hard to top it off next year.

I tried to fit all the pies in but some of them got cut off.

This may be a better angle...

Here is my mom's apple pie, it was so beautiful I thought it was noteworthy of a close up.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's that time of the month again.....the November Daring Bakers Challenge!





Boy was I excited to complete this challenge! After being absent from the last challenge and having the one before that a savory one, I was excited to do something sweet. And even more excited when I found out that it was a cake, but not just any cake a caramel cake! However, I was indifferent with the end result, probably because I did something wrong, but here's my take on how the cake turned out. I made the caramel syrup, which I think I over cooked. I followed the instructions to the T, even looked up some helpful hints on making caramel syrup. When I was finished it seemed perfect, but when it was time to put it in the cake it got all clumpy and didn't incorporate very well into the cake. I kept creaming it in trying to make it less clumpy, I finally got it to a consistency I was pretty happy with. There was some clumps and when the cake was finished it ended up having some caramel spirl in it from the clumps melting. The cake flavor alone wasn't anything I would jump up and scream about, but then again I may have done something wrong, however the texture was amazing.

Now for the frosting, I knew that the rules were we had to use the caramel syrup in the frosting but mine was a complete mess. So I used what i could and decided it needed to be more caramelly. I figured I used the syrup so now I could do whatever else I wanted to make this frosting lovely. So I looked up a caramel sauce recipe, whipped it together and added a little in, ok maybe alot in. It turned out amazing! One of the best frosting I have made! I was very happy with it.

So now for the finished product, the cake with the frosting: pretty good. I would love to make it again and see if I could make the caramel syrup better. I served it to a bunch of family members and they all had nice things to say about it. Maybe I was being a little critical because it didn't turn out how I wanted. Anyways if any of you have a change take a whack at it! Let me know if you had a better success. Also don't forget to check out the other lovely Daring Bakers!
Here is the begining of the makings of the caramel syrup, so
far everything is going good.

Now dumping the water in, it started splattering and going crazy! Which was normal,
it actually smoked up so much that my fire alarms went off!
I was very concerned it was going to platter all over my arms and hands,
so here I am looking very worried and trying to hold my hands away
as far as I could!

Ta da! Challenge complete!

CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Notes from Natalie for those of you baking gluten-free:

So the GF changes to the cake would be:

2 cups of gluten free flour blend (w/xanthan gum) or 2 cups of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 - 1 tsp baking powder (this would be the recipe amount to the amount it might need to be raised to & I'm going to check)

I'll let you when I get the cake finished, how it turns out and if the baking powder amount needs to be raised.


Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

CARAMEL SYRUP

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nothing mini about the huge amount of flavor in these cupcakes!


I finally had the change to go to Mini's Cupcakes in Salt Lake and it exceded my expectations. It was so darling and cute inside. Had the funnest atmosphere and the best selection of mini cupcakes. And let me tell ya, there is nothing bad about a mini cupcake because I have learned when you eat a mini cupcake, you can have another and not feel bad! I also liked that I was able to sample a few different flavors because of how little they were. I was so impressed with these cupcakes. Take a look at the few different flavors I got....(and might I add each and every one of those babies was gone before I went to bed that night!)
From the top left curving around to the right:
black n white, breakfast at tiffany's, cocont, lemon meringue

The black n white"
Moist chocolate cake with butter cream frosting, amazing!

The lemon meringue:
vanilla bean cake, fresh lemon curd in the center
with meringue frosting. This one was so delicious and refreshing.

And finally, the Breakfast at Tiffany's:
have you seen a cuter cupcake? Vanilla cake, blue
cream cheese frosting with silver and white gems. This one was so fun to eat!
If you have a change go check out minis!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I finally made them!



For the past few months I have been dying to make cookie dough cupcakes. The idea was so intriguing and I thought how could that be bad? Cookie dough in a cupcake! Definitely a winner. So after months of wanting to make them, I finally did! It was my brothers birthday and I thought that that would be the perfect opportunity. There was a recipe from the Cake Mix Doctor for cookie dough cupcakes but I just made a plain yellow cake mix and put a frozen cookie dough chunk in the center. If you buy the tollhouse cookie dough already cut in cubes (the one that makes 24 cookies) I found that just one of those cubes was the perfect amount of cookie dough.

These cupcakes were super yummy and really fun for people to eat because there was a little surprise of cookie dough in the middle! For the frosting I did something I haven't done before. I wanted to make a SMBC but didn't have the right equipment for it. So...I invented a new frosting! I made a traditional chocolate buttercream with melted symphony bar and cocoa powder. Then I did the first step for SMBC which is to basically make the meringue and then I folded that into the buttercream. It made it so light and fluffy and not too sweet. People loved them and I can't wait to make them again!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"From Head to Heel" Grand Opening!


Last Saturday I had the grand opening for my spa/boutique that I started in my basement. It was so much fun! I had no idea I would have such a great turn out of people. Thanks to everyone who came and celebrated my new business with me and offered their support. A lot of work went into this party. My husband designed the cutest fliers for it and made three amazing posters that we framed and hung up in the basement. And of course, I worked hard in the baking department. I made chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla buttercream. I alternated all of the flavors so that it seemed like I had more flavors to choose from. They turned out pretty cute. Here are some pictures of my place....
Here is the little nook where I displayed my cuppies!

Not the best pic but those three pictures are the ones Micah designed.

This is where I display the skin care products I sell. I sell a few different kinds but the
main two are Rhonda Allison (which I am in love with!) and Vivant (I am also in
love with their products too!)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Creepy crawler cupcakes...a little late but still cute:)


This past week has been a crazy one. I have been planning and preparing every second for my grand opening of the spa/boutique I have in my home. It was yesterday and it went great! I will do a post about it but first things first, I made these cute Halloween cupcakes and need to post them even though it's late. Please forgive me! I would have posted them earlier but like I said my grand opening took all of my time, I was so busy I couldn't even do my Daring Bakers Challenge for this month :( I was very sad I had to miss my first challenge. So this month I am hoping will be a little bit more relaxed and I will be able to post a little bit more.

So back to the cupcakes, these are the yummiest homemade devils food cupcakes. Their texture is moist and the flavor unbelievable. the recipe is from the book "cupcakes" by Shelly Kaldunski. I have been very happy with this book. So feel free to try these out and you don't have to make them halloween themed you could just make them normal glazed cupcakes without the spider web. Enjoy!

Creepy Crawler Halloween Cupcakes

Devils Food Cupcakes:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 packed brown sugar
4 T. butter at room temp
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat over to 350.

Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into bowl. In another bowl, with an electric mixer on medium igh speed, beat the sugar, brown sugar, and butter until light and fluffy, 2-3 min. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the water and buttermilk, beating on low speed until just combined; srape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat on medium high speed just until no traces of flour remaing, about 30 seconds.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake 18-20 minutes.

Milk chocolate Glaze:
1/2 cup cream
1 T corn syrup
pinch salt
8 oz. milk chocolate, chopped

In a saucepan over medium high heat, combine the cream, cornsyrup and salt and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and add chocolate; let stand for 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer the chocolate glaze to a small bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Vanilla Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 T milk
1 tsp vanilla extract.

In a bowl whisk together the sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth; the glaze should be spreadable. If it seems too thick whisk in additons milk in a few drops at a time. If too thin add more sugar.

So heres what you do!!

Spoon the chocolate glaze of the cupcakes and then with the vanilla glaze places in a piping bag with a small tip, make circles on the cupcake, like this:

Then with a tooth pick, starting in the middle, drag it out to the edges and it will look this likes!;
I even put some in a box to give them as a gift, look how cute!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Recently I was watching the food network and the Neley's did a special on Salt Lake treats! It was very exciting seeing my state being represented. One of the things featured was Spotted Dog Ice Cream. Living half an hour from the city I was very disappointed I wasn't going to be tasting it anytime soon. However, as I was shopping at my local Harmons yesterday I saw some in the ice cream section! It was expensive, $4.99, so I was reluctant to buy it. But of course I did. I got the lemon cream pie ice cream and boy was it worth the $4.99! I would have paid ten bucks for one bite of it! It was amazing! Also featured on the food network was a bakery called Les Madelines. They have these amazing French pastries which I also tried but unfortunatly dont have a picture of. If you are ever in Salt Lake take advantage and try these yummy sweets!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Better late than never, right?

Last July I went on an amazing Alaskan cruise and have been meaning to post about it since I got back but somehow it got left out with all the baking I have been doing. So, even though I am a little embarrassed because this post is so late, I am still posting about it because as amazing as the cruise and the scenery was, the food was better! I had the best fish and crab I have ever had in my life. The fish and chips were to die for and the salmon-well- lets just say you haven't had salmon until you have had fresh Alaskan salmon. Today we are still enjoying Alaskan salmon because while in Alaska we went on a private boat to go fishing and I caught my first fish! A coho (I think thats how you spell it) salmon, and my husband and sister in law caught King salmon.
Here is the beautiful fish I caught:
And Micah's...
And the best fish and chips I have ever had in my life!

One of the very exciting moments on the trip was when we were in Skagwee and we were told about this little famous cupcake shop. So we went on the search and found it! It was the cutest little shop with the yummiest cupcakes! Look how cute....

Inside the darling store with my yummy cupcakes!

It was an amazing trip, probobly my favorite one to date. The scenery was beautiful and the food spectacular. We were able to do alot of fun and scary things. My least favorites were the many little plane rides we went on which I was convinced the whole time we were going to crash into a mountain. One of the most amazing things was the whale watching and going out in a boat very close to grizzly and black bears. We saw a momma bear with her three cubs. It was so cute but also very scary because we were so close to them. Here is a video clip of a little bit of what we saw...they were very cute, but also scary when you looked into their crazy eyes!
video