A True Yuletide Treat: Chocolate and Bourbon Pear Bûche de Noël

DSC_0342Chocolate, bourbon, vanilla, pear. How bad could that be? This holiday recipe, drawing inspiration from a variety of sources, arrives just in time to be included in your celebrations this year!

Bûche de Noël, translating into yule log, is a traditional dessert served all over France during the holidays. A light and airy sponge cake is wrapped around a custard filling and then coated in a rich butter cream. Often decorated with little toy ornaments on top, these “logs” are both a festive and fun way to bring yuletide cheer to bakery window-displays and parties alike.

Making a yule log is not difficult, but it does involve a preparing a couple different components and DSC_0324pulling out several mixing bowls. I used a recipe from pastry-god Dominique Ansel as a base, but played with the flavors a bit by swapping out cherries for pears and using bourbon because it pairs so well with chocolate. Showcasing French technique with a slight Southern American twist, this yule log is the wonderful way to say Happy Holidays to your loved ones this week.

DSC_0346Recipe: Chocolate and Bourbon Pear Bûche de Noël

Adapted from Food and Wine

Cake

  • 6 eggs yolks, room temperatureDSC_0315
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (recommend 100% or Special Dark varieties)

DSC_0328Bourbon Syrup

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon

Filling

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Bourbon Pears

  • 2 pears, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Method

Cake: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 9X13 inch bakingDSC_0303 sheet with parchment paper. Beat the egg yolks with six tablespoons of the sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy. In another bowl, beat the egg whites together with the remaining six tablespoons of sugar until the egg whites have formed stiff peaks. Fold the egg DSC_0311white mixture with the egg yolk mixture followed by the cocoa powder and salt. Spread the batter evenly on the baking sheet and bake until the cake is dry and springy, about 18-20 minutes.

Syrup: Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-heat heat. Boil the mixture for about a minute, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bourbon. Allow the mixture to cool.

Filling: In a small bowl, soften the gelatin with the water. In a small saucepan,
combine the milk, vanilla bean and seeds, and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the sugar. Stream in the warm milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking rapidly until incorporated. Pour the combined mixture back into the saucepan and stir constantly over low heat until the custard has become thick enough to coat the back of spoon. Strain the custard into a bowl. Heat the gelatin in the microwave for about 15 seconds, until melted, and stir into the custard. Allow the custard to cool before whipping the cream and folding it in.

Pears: Combine the pear slices with the vanilla pod and seeds, sugar, and bourbon. Saute over high heat for about 5 minutes, until the pears have softened and the alcohol smell has mellowed out a bit. Discard the vanilla pod and allow the mixture to cool.

Assembly: Run a knife around the edges of cake to loosen it and invert it onto a DSC_0334new sheet of parchment paper. Soak the cake liberally in the bourbon syrup, making sure that it’s covered evenly. Then spread an even layer of the custard filing on top, followed by the pears. Roll the cake up to form a 13-inch log. Because the cake is stiff, it might break on you at this point. That is completely fine. Just use the parchment paper to squeeze the roll together and place it in the fridge to set overnight.

Topping: Beat the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar together until whipped and firm. Coat the cake evenly with the whipped cream followed by a dusting of cocoa powder on top. Cut into slices and serve.

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année!

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2 thoughts on “A True Yuletide Treat: Chocolate and Bourbon Pear Bûche de Noël

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