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Cooking up some Christmas cheer

French-Style


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I am loving the cozy evenings spent snuggled inside by the fireplace. This time of year makes me crave comfort food, especially luxurious soups. (For all of you fellow foodies, this blog post is dedicated to the pleasure of comfort foods - for those who simply eat to live, more travel-related topics to come in the new year!) I am absolutely in love with this recipe provided by Moulin CastelaS (yes, the producers of the award-winning olive oils that you can't live without!). It is decadent, yet healthy as it doesn't depend on heavy cream, so indulge in peace!


Comfort Food


Velouté de Potiron et Noisettes (Pumpkin soup with Hazelnuts)


500 g pumpkin

1 leek, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds

2 garlic cloves

1 onion, chopped

30 g roasted, crushed hazelnuts


In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in Aglandau olive oil until soft. Add the rest of vegetables. Add enough water to just cover the vegetables and cook for 20 minutes. Purée with an immersion blender until smooth. Add salt and pepper. Serve hot, with crushed hazelnuts and a drizzle of Aglandau or Noir olive oil.


Note: you can also use canned pumpkin. Cook the vegetables first, add the pumpkin to heat through, and adjust the water accordingly.

Merci à Moulin CastelaS!


a christmas Tradition





The traditional French dessert for Christmas is of course the Bûche de Noël or Yule Log. The custom is to make a genoise cake, layer on buttercream, then roll it up into a log shape and decorate. While I have made this type of cake before, I confess that in recent years I have been ordering my bûche from one of the amazing French bakeries instead. However, after watching every episode of Meilleur Pâtissier (the French version of the Great British Baking Show) for the last two years, I have been inspired to try my hand at entremets, or layered desserts. I was so intrigued by the various layers they created, how participants dashed back and forth from the freezer, and the tension as they attempted to successfully unmold their creations. As with all of my obsessions, I dove right in. I now own more baking paraphernalia than you can find under the tent, and have been collecting books and hard-to-find ingredients at Alice Délice every time I walk by the store, racking up points for my carte de fidelité.


(A few side notes:


Meilleur Pâtissier is on channel M6 in France, but you can find many episodes on YouTube. The show is currently finishing up Season 12. Be careful - you may also become addicted! Un grand merci à Hélène for introducing this show to me, and for comparing notes after each episode as we geek out together!


Alice Délice is a culinary shop that can be found throughout France. They have a huge selection of molds, especially the Silikomart brand, as well as ingredients such as gelatin sheets and NH Pectin, used in many French entremet recipes. )



"A vos marques, prêt, PATISSER!"


This year I will attempt (probably several times!) this recipe for our Christmas dessert. (Unlike Meilleur Pâtissier, I have three weeks instead of three hours to produce something, and I plan to use all of it!) I don't remember when it started, but "Père Noël" started putting Ferrero Rocher candies in our stockings, and now my kids insist we have them every year. I chose this recipe for them. If you are so inspired, I hope you will make your own as well! Let's compare notes after the holidays (although I am very glad I won't be judged by Cyril et Mercotte!)


So here is the basic recipe. For those who have no intention of doing this much work when a simple phone call can order a professional cake, I respect your wise decision, and wish you un très Joyeux Noël! No need to read further! I will have lots more travel tips and other great artisan features in 2024. A bientôt! And for you hearty souls ... c'est parti!


Bûche de Noël - Frozen Bûche Rocher (chocolat/vanille)


I found my recipe in Les Pâtisesries de Maman: Gateaux et Entremets by Marine Guerna. You can find it on Amazon, or by clicking on the cookbook name above. (Note: the book is in French) Copyright, and the risk of carpal tunnel, prohibit me from typing the recipe for you, but I will give you the basic structure. There are so many recipes and YouTube tutorials out there, simply do a search for the type of layer - courage, mes amis!


The Goal - Bûche Rocher

As with most entremets, the crucial ingredients are time and patience. Oui, you will need 2-3 days to make this dessert, as it needs to properly freeze between steps, but this will lead to an even bigger sense of accomplishment! Each layer has its own pitfalls, so as our dear Mercotte likes to say "lisez bien la recette!" (Read the recipe carefully!). Cooking you can do by eye and taste, but baking requires careful measuring and attention to detail. Take your time - no shortcuts!



Materials needed:


1 Silikomart double insert "bûche" mold (or be creative!)

1 cooking thermometer


The Layers:


Insert Vanilla Mousse

Vanilla Génoise

Chocolate Crunch

Milk Chocolate Mousse

Glaçage Rocher (crunchy topping)


The Steps:


Insert Vanilla Mousse (Insert Mousse Vanille)

Start by making your vanilla mousse insert. If you are not familiar with gelatin sheets, you need to rehydrate them by soaking them in ice water for at least 10 minutes, then wringing them out before use. Be sure to get the "bloom" that is on the recipe or your gelatin will be too strong or too weak to hold. Once you have made your mousse and placed it in the mold, it will have to freeze overnight.


Vanilla Génoise (Génoise Vanille)

It's now time to make your vanilla cake. After it is done baking, let it cool before cutting it slightly smaller than the mold opening.


Chocolate Crunch (Croustillant Chocolat)

Texture is so important in entremets, so they don't get too mushy. This thin, crunchy layer of melted chocolate with wafer cookies is going to be spread on top of the génoise to provide a pleasing crunch. Keep this in the refrigerator. (You can also add a layer of praline if you prefer).


Milk Chocolate Mousse (Mousse Chocolat au Lait)

Choose your favorite milk chocolate mousse recipe.


Montage (Putting it together)

Pour a little of the chocolate mousse into the mold. Add the frozen insert of vanilla mousse. Add another thin layer of chocolate mousse. On top of it, place the génoise with the crispy side touching the chocolate mousse. Press down lightly so the chocolate mousse fills the sides. Smooth out with a metal spatula. Put this overnight in the freezer.


Glaçage Rocher

Make your glaze and let cool to 35 C before you use it.


Finishing Touch!

Place two glasses of the same height over a large platter or baking dish. Carefully unmold your entremet and place it on the two glasses. Pour the glaçage at 35 C over the frozen bûche and let the excess drip onto the platter. With two spatulas, pick up the bûche from underneath and place on your presentation plate. Keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat.


Bonne dégustation et Bonnes Fêtes!


Amicalement,

Traci








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