A Buche de Noel (Yule Log) is a traditional Christmas cake of French origin. It is popular in some countries outside of France although Australia isn’t one of them. This needs to change!
Traditionally it is a roulade cake made from genoise sponge but my version is rich mousse-filled chocolate cake. It is made from a few ready-made and make-ahead components which offers a quick shortcut to an impressive cake – something which is always appreciated but especially during the busy Christmas season.
The cake pictured above is the actual one I made on Christmas Day. I think this cake is so beautiful and delicious it would be such a shame to have to wait until next Christmas to enjoy it again. It could be made to look “un-Chrismassy” by omitting the toadstools and opting for an alternative decoration to the chocolate bark, perhaps roasted nuts, praline, chocolate curls, crushed biscuits or raspberries/strawberries.
Happy eating and all the best for the new year ahead!
Chocolate Bark (recipe below)
Chocolate Mousse (recipe below)
Toadstools (recipe below)
1 x 250g packet Chocolate Ripple biscuits (or similar plain sweet chocolate cookie)
100g dark chocolate
Melt the chocolate, either using a double-boiler or in the microwave. Spread into a thin layer on top of baking paper. Lay another piece of baking paper of the top and smooth. Put in the fridge to set.
300g dark (bittersweet) chocolate (I used Callebaut 53.8% cocoa solids)
240ml (or grams) of water
This is a very quick mousse so it’s imperative that everything is ready before you start. Place some ice cubes in a large bowl with a cup (or so) of water and place a smaller bowl inside of this (the mousse will be whisked in this smaller inner bowl). Have a rubber spatula and whisk ready (an electric whisk is highly recommended!)
Place the chocolate and water in a saucepan and melt over a low-ish heat, stirring with the spatula, until just melted and smooth. Pour into the inner chilled bowl and whisk! whisk! whisk! The mousse will thicken as it cools; whisk until it forms thick soft ribbons.
The mousse may be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge until needed. It won’t lose any volume by being stored in the fridge but it will firm up so it’s best to remove it from the fridge for 20 minutes or so before assembling the cake.
white ready-to-roll fondant (~200g/6-7oz)
red food colouring
simple sugar syrup
small paint brush
I know I’ve kind of promised a recipe but this is such simple stuff that it’s not really a recipe. If you’ve never used fondant you may find the idea of crafting decorative toadstools a little intimidating but trust me it is easy; it’s just like Play-Doh. I split the fondant into two almost-same-sized pieces. One was left plain and the other was coloured red. To colour the fondant simply add the food colouring and knead it until you are happy with the colour and it is evenly distributed.
If you are a precise type of person and need a tutorial to make perfect toadstools then check this out: http://www.themuckymacbook.com/2011/06/toadstool-cupcake-toppers.html
Otherwise do as I did and freestyle it – mould the pieces in your hand and stick it all together with simple sugar syrup and a small paint brush. I had a six-year-old helping me so it didn’t take long at all. Once they are finished store them in an air-tight container until needed.
All of the elements are made ahead of time and assembly is very easy!
1. Smear some chocolate mousse on to the bottom of the serving plate.
2. Sandwich mousse and biscuits together and place on the plate (if you were making this cake for all grown-ups you could brush a little liqueur and/or coffee onto the biscuits or maybe add a smear of jam if you want something sweeter). Repeat. I used about 2/3 packet of biscuits.
3. Spread the remaining mousse over the top and sides.
4. Break up the chocolate bark into long pieces. Add the large pieces first and then fill in the gaps with the smaller pieces.
5. If you have left over biscuits, and have the time, blitz them in a food processor until crumbly. The chocolate biscuit crumbs can stand in as edible dirt for the toadstools to sit on. I assembled mine on Christmas morning and we were hosting ten people for lunch so I really didn’t have time for this step!
6. Add the toadstools.
Here are my rushed step-by-step photos: