Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ice Cream Yule Log aka Bûche de Noël for the Winter Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice, and what could be more fitting that a Yule Log aka Bûche de Noël. Yes, it can be served for Christmas, but we all know about the cross-over traditions of winter holidays.

The tradition of the Yule Log spans millennia and actually precedes Christianity. The Peasants used to burn a yule log on the Winter Solstice in December to keep evil spirits away, which they presumed might come because of the prolonged darkness of the Winter Solstice.

As Christianity grew, the yule log became more commonly associated with Christmas celebrations and Christianity adopted the Yule log tradition. For centuries, Christians cut their own yule logs at Christmas time or they would try to find a yule log to burn. During the 1700s and 1800s, it was a regular Christmas tradition for men to go out in search of a yule log. Many European countries had traditions surrounding the Yule log, but a Yule log was burned either in the days preceding Christmas or on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

For the purposes of this blog, the expression "Yule log" has also come to refer to log-shaped Christmas cake or "Bûche de Noël."  A few years ago I posted a fabulous recipe for a traditional Buche de Noel.

Here's a simple recipe adapted from the Breyers Ice cream site for a Buche de Noel aka Yule Log Ice Cream Cake. You can always change the ice cream to a flavor you like best. How easy is this?

ICE CREAM YULE LOG aka BUCHE DE NOEL

1 box (16 oz.) angel food cake mix or Duncan Hines Chocolate Cake mix (guess which one I use?)
1 Tbsp confectioners sugar PLUS extra for garnish
1 container (1.5 qt.) Breyers Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (original recipe uses strawberry)
3 large marshmallows
6 mini marshmallows
Unsweetened DARK cocoa powder
1 can (16 oz.) chocolate frosting
Fresh mint sprigs
Cranberries
Ground cocoa nibs

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 15-1/2 x 10-1/2-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; set aside.
2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions; pour into prepared pan. Bake 22 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. On wire rack, cool 15 minutes.
3. Run metal spatula around edges of cake to loosen; sift 1 tablespoon sugar onto cake. Invert onto clean kitchen towel; remove parchment paper.
4. Starting at short end of cake, roll up tightly, jelly-roll style, folding towel into cake; refrigerate 30 minutes or until chilled.
5. On cutting board, unroll cake. With scissors, cut carton from softened (leave out for 10 minutes) Ice Cream (or if you're using another brand of ice-cream, let it soften until you can spread it). Arrange Ice Cream on its side, then cut crosswise into 8 slices. Arrange slices on cake leaving 1-1/2-inch border at one end of cake; pressing to form an even layer. Roll cake up tightly, using towel to help roll cake; freeze 3 hours or overnight. Freeze serving platter 30 minutes before serving.
6. Meanwhile, for ''mushrooms'', with scissors, snip large marshmallows in half crosswise; press mini marshmallows onto sticky side of large marshmallows. Sift cocoa powder over mushrooms; set aside.
7. On cutting board, remove towel from cake. With serrated knife, slice 1-1/2-inch diagonal piece off one end of cake. On chilled serving platter, arrange large ''log.'' Place diagonal slice against side of ''log'' to form ''branch.''
8. Frost "log" and "branch" with chocolate frosting, leaving ends unfrosted. Drag fork across frosting to create "bark"; press on "mushrooms." Return to freezer to firm up.
9. To serve, garnish with cranberries and mint and sprinkle with additional confectioners sugar. Serve on a bed of ground up cocoa nibs!

TIP: The frosting will cover any cracks you may get in the cake when rolling.

Don't have time to do this? The other day I saw Buches de Noel for sale at the Haagen-Daz store. You get to pick the ice cream flavor you like. They're ready for take-out or they'll customize it for you.

Photo: Breyer's with strawberry ice cream

Saturday, December 20, 2014

DARK CHOCOLATE EGGNOG TRUFFLES

Eggnog is definitely a beverage of the season, so if you have some around, here's a great recipe! You can never have enough truffles during the holidays! Buy the best eggnog you can--or make your own! I love Dark Chocolate Eggnog Truffles!

Dark Chocolate Eggnog Truffles

Ingredients
3/4 cup eggnog
11 ounces dark chocolate 60%+ cacao, chopped
3 Tbsp sweet butter, cut into small cubes
2 Tbsp superfine sugar
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions
Heat eggnog over medium heat almost to boiling point, whisking constantly. Do not boil.
Immediately remove pan from heat, turn heat to low. Add chocolate and butter to eggnog. Stir until chocolate is completely melted, returning to low heat if necessary.
Pour mixture into mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer at high speed for 5 minutes. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until mixture is firm but pliable.
In small bowl, mix superfine sugar with nutmeg and cinnamon; set aside. (you can also add cocoa)
Take 1 teaspoon of chocolate mixture and roll into ball, then roll in sugar mixture.
Place truffle in foil cup or on waxed paper tray (I don't use cups but they look festive if you do). Repeat.
Store truffles in airtight container in refrigerator.

Don't have time to make Eggnog Truffles? 
 Starbucks sells Eggnog Latte Truffles. 
Godiva has them in their 12 piece Truffle Holiday Box.
Check your local chocolatier!

Cartoon of the Day: Gingerbread House


Friday, December 19, 2014

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Crust

In the holiday spirit? Why not make this Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Crust for Christmas Eve, Christmas, or just to have around the house while you're wrapping presents? It's so easy and Perfect for the Holidays!

The original recipe for this Chocolate Peppermint Pie is adapted from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, so there's lots of butter, cream cheese, and whipping cream. I dressed this up even more by adding a Chocolate Peppermint Oreo Crust using Holiday Oreos. I love Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joes. This is a great crust for lots of holiday desserts.

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust


Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust
2 1/4 cups of crushed Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joe's (oreo-like with peppermint filling), finely ground
2 1/2 ounces of melted butter

Combine cookie crumbs with melted butter in a bowl.
Pour mixture into 9 inch pie pan and press into bottom and up sides evenly.
Smooth surface with the back of spoon.
Refrigerate pie crust for at least an hour.


Chocolate Peppermint Pie Filling 

Ingredients
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pasteurized egg product* (egg beaters or similar product to avoid the raw egg controversy)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup white chocolate chips or white chocolate bar, chopped -- melted and cooled
1/2 cup (20) peppermint candies, crushed
1/2 cup dark chocolate (60-75% cacao) chopped - or 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
some more crushed peppermints candies

Directions
In bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and sugar together.
Combine egg product and whipping cream, and gradually add to butter mixture while beating, scraping bowl often. Beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reserve half of mixture in small bowl.
Add cooled white chocolate to remaining half of mixture; beat well. Stir in crushed candy. Spread in pie crust; chill 10 minutes.
Return reserved butter mixture to bowl, add cooled dark chocolate; beat well. Spread over white chocolate layer.
Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

* you can always substitute eggs  (6 large eggs, but it depends on the size of the eggs, you can always start cracking eggs and measure)