Traditionally French, this chocolatey confection has become part of our Christmas Day tea in recent years. There are a lot of recipes out there for Buche de Noel, including Delias, which is a lovely dessert recipe. However this one from Saveur is more cake-like and works well as part of the Christmas tea-time buffet, which usually goes on well into Boxing Day!
12 oz. semisweet chocolate
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
2⁄3 cup double cream
10 tbsp. sugar
2 large egg whites
2 pinches cream of tartar
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
1⁄4 cup cocoa powder
1⁄2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp. softened butter
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
7 egg whites
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. dark rum
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
6 tbsp. sugar
3 egg yolks
12 tbsp. unsalted butter
1. For the icing: Melt chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water over medium-low heat, whisking often. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cream. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until icing thickens, about 4 hours. (Don’t refrigerate; it makes icing hard to spread.)
2. For the meringue: Preheat oven to 200°. Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling pan several times until sugar has dissolved, 1–2 minutes. Uncover pan and continue to boil until syrup reaches softball stage or 236° on a candy thermometer, about 4 minutes more. Put egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk and beat on medium speed until frothy, then add cream of tartar and salt. Gradually increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, about 30 seconds. Slowly pour in sugar syrup while continuing to beat until whites cool to room temperature and become thick and shiny, about 10 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Use a rubber spatula to transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4″ plain pastry tip. To make meringue mushrooms, hold pastry tip perpendicular to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and pipe meringue into the shapes of mushroom caps and stems of various sizes, then set aside for 5 minutes. Lightly moisten a fingertip in cold water and smooth out any “tails” left behind on mushroom caps. Bake meringues for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and allow meringues to rest in oven until dry and crisp, about 1 hour. Bore a small, shallow hole in center of underside of each mushroom cap with the tip of a paring knife. “Glue” stems to caps by dipping tips of stems into icing, then sticking into holes in caps. Sift a little cocoa powder on tops of caps. Meringues can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.
3. For the roulade: Preheat oven to 375°. Line a 16 1/2″ × 12″ heavy baking pan with buttered parchment paper, cut large enough to hang over sides of the pan by about 1″. Put chocolate in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Bring cream just to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, then pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool. Beat egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk on medium speed until frothy; increase speed to medium-high and gradually add sugar, beating constantly, then increase speed to high and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form, 30-40 seconds more. (Don’t overbeat.) Mix one-third of the whites into chocolate using a rubber spatula, then gently fold in remaining whites in two batches, taking care not to deflate batter. Spread in prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 10–12 minutes. Set aside to cool in the pan.
4. For the filling: Melt chocolate with 2 tbsp. water in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water over medium heat. Stir to combine, then set aside to cool. Combine sugar and 3 tbsp. water in a small heavy saucepan; cover and bring to a boil over medium heat, swirling pan several times until sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute. Uncover and continue to boil until syrup reaches the softball stage or 236° on a candy thermometer, about 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, beat yolks in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk on high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and gradually pour in hot syrup. Beat constantly until mixture cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Allow butter to soften, then beat into egg mixture 1 tbsp. at a time, waiting until it’s completely incorporated before adding more; continue beating until thick and smooth, about 5 minutes total. Stir in cooled chocolate and set aside.
5. To assemble the bûche: Transfer roulade with parchment to a clean work surface, sprinkle with rum, then spread filling evenly over top using a metal spatula. Grab the long edge of the parchment paper with two hands and gently roll roulade onto itself, pulling off paper as you roll. To make stumps, diagonally cut a 2″ length from each end of bûche; then, to make the stumps thinner than the bûche, partially unroll each piece, trim off flap, and discard. Set stumps aside.
6. Using two long metal spatulas, carefully transfer bûche to a serving platter lined with strips of waxed paper. “Glue” stumps onto bûche with some of the icing. Melt 1/4 cup of icing in a saucepan over low heat, then spoon it over stumps to coat completely. Spread remaining icing on bûche, dragging spatula along icing to simulate tree bark. Remove waxed-paper strips. Decorate with mushrooms, then sift confectioners’ sugar over mushrooms and bûche.
Thanks for reading. Comments are welcome!