Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My First Challenge - The French Yule Log

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry ( http://saffronandblueberry.blogspot.com) and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. (http://ilenfautpeupour.canalblog.com/)
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand http://plaisirgourmand.perso.cegetel.net/

The French Yule Log

My first Daring Baker challenge and it lived up to its title. While the individual components were not particularly difficult (although I did have a few struggles), the timing and the assembly process had me running to the instructions repeatedly.

The dacquiose was easy. I found almond meal, the whole thing went together quickly and the baking turned out just right. I think I would make it slightly thicker were I to do this again, but it was fine. There was plenty, so if I had made mistakes in cutting to fit my pan, I would have had a lot of room for error.

The crème brulee took much longer to cook than indicated on the recipe and didn’t really make much progress until I bumped the temp on the oven up a few degrees. I flavored my brulee with a little peach schnapps, but it didn’t seem to make a big difference. I also baked it in a pan which was a little too small - a bigger pan would have made a more attractive layer within the log.

I made raspberry mousse and probably had the most problems with this component. First of all, I used frozen raspberries (from the Skagit Valley of Washington, so I knew they would be wonderful). This, however, required quite a bit of blending and sieving to get all the seeds out. With the help of my husband, I managed to get this done and the color was gorgeous. The Italian meringue was a pain. Cooking the sugar to the right temp was OK, but adding it to the egg whites resulted in big globs of hard sugar. I tasted it and it seemed sweet enough, so I did not redo it. Definitely I need to practice that! The gelatin for the mousse was also a pain. I really think I just didn’t understand the instructions. Microwave for 1 second? Really? Didn’t do a thing. I finally just melted the gelatin in some water over the stove and added it. I think it would have worked better to soften the gelatin for about 5 minutes in some cold water and then add it to the hot raspberry puree – not lukewarm, as suggested in the mango mousse recipe. Anyway, the mousse turned out, although it was less firm than I expected.

The dark chocolate ganache was easy.

I made my own praline from almonds and then made the Feuillete using Rice Krispies and that worked just fine. Had lots left over. The amounts of product from these recipes varied greatly. For some components, it was just enough but for others, either way too much or way too little. I used the leftover almond praline in a wonderful green salad with blue cheese.

I decided against fiddling with gelatin again and made another chocolate ganache with bittersweet chocolate to be the icing. It set up beautifully.

End result: It looked a little less than perfect because the sides were uneven. I used a springform which is smaller diameter than most but deeper, since I thought that would give me the most flexibility with the various layers. It was not as evenly layered as I had hoped, but it still looked pretty good when cut, especially with the raspberry mousse contrasted with the dark chocolate. It also tasted pretty good, but all that chocolate made it really rich!

- Bunnee

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