The Daring Bakers challenge for December was definitely interesting. Instead of a traditional Bûche de Noël, we were tasked to make a modern French Yule Log, a multilayered frozen dessert that resembles a piece of art.
This month's challenge was brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They chose a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand. Recipes may be found on Hilda's blog.
While each layer had its own challenges, assembling the final dessert was the biggest challenge for me. No matter how it turned out, there was no way to make any changes by the icing stage. It’s like unwrapping a surprise package and receiving a less-than perfect gift.
1) Dacquoise Biscuit
I chose to use ground hazelnuts for the dacquoise. It turned out perfectly and was very tasty.
The mousse was the most challenging step for me. The pâte à bombe, where you beat hot sugar syrup into egg yolks, bombed, so to speak. Oh, the egg yolks were beaten just fine, and the sugar syrup was correct, but the vast space of the Kitchen Aid 5-quart bowl allowed the creation of wonderful spun sugar and giant hunks of crystallized sugar, but no egg yolk-sugar mixture. The egg yolks remained blissfully in the bottom of the bowl while the sugar spun all over the baking area.
Not wanting to waste eggs, I strained them from the sugar chunks, put them in a smaller bowl, and beat them with a hand mixer. I remade the sugar syrup, then poured it in with one hand while beating with the hand mixer in the other hand. The majority of sugar syrup was blended into the egg yolks, but the beaters ended up with sugary hair-like growths all over them. I assume there is a point to this step, but it is the part that will kill this recipe for me. And, of course, having to make this part twice, my chocolate-gelatin mixure was definitely cool. I did set the bowl over some hot water so it wouldn’t be completely hard. Ultimately, the mousse turned out fine.
3) Ganache Insert
After preparing the dacquoise and the mousse, I made the ganache. THEN, I re-read the directions. So, the poor ganache rested on the counter while the half-assembled log did time in the freezer. I must say, though, that when I was finally able to pipe it onto the log, it was the perfect consistency. Not too firm, and definitely not runny, and not a mistake after all.
4) Praline (Crisp) Insert
For the crispy insert, I chose to use Rice Krispies for the crunch and Nutella for the praline paste, keeping in line with the hazelnut theme. It turned out just fine, sort of like a candy bar, but it does fall apart easily when it warms up.
5) Crème Brulée Insert
I must be one of the few Daring Bakers who did not have a problem with the crème brulée. While I did bake it a few minutes longer than required, it turned out fine within the specified baking time and temperature. Instead of vanilla, I added toasted, chopped hazelnuts to the milk mixture, let it steep for 90 minutes, and strained it before adding the egg-sugar mixture, so it has a nice, subtle taste of hazelnuts.
The final icing turned out perfectly.
I can’t say the same for the log underneath. It was all bumpy from the layers.
Apparently, I should have really crammed all the layers together and mashed them into the sides of the pan, or perhaps trimmed the darn thing to make it even all around. So there is a mirror-smooth glaze over this gnarly cake-like thing. (Could that be why so many DBers slathered the sides with nuts and other objects?)
There are so many gorgeous Yule Logs on the Daring Bakers Blogroll. Please take a moment to take a look.