Bûche de Noël Chocolat et Marrons Glacés

To be in France during the Festive Season is for any Epicurian, pure paradise ! For me this is when France shines through and shows its true culinary colours ! Every pastry shops compete for the best Bûche de Noël and it is a treat to walk around in all of Paris and check the new creations every year. Whether at Fauchon, Daloyau or Pierre Hermé to name a few, it is a true pleasure for the eyes and one can stand in wonder how they can achieve such technical challenges. These delicate creations can also set you back a few Euros and to be honest, many of them look better than they taste, as there are so many components of obscure flavours in them, that you cannot discern any real taste. Between the Patisseries, bakeries and Chocolatiers, you can really feast your eyes. I am always amazed of what they can do with fruits and how they can turn them into glazed treasures. From pineapple to mango slices and most importantly chestnuts, the fruits slices are cured in boiled syrup baths until they become glossy and filled to the rim with a wonderfully rich and delicate taste. Chestnut suddenly become prized items and are used in many baked goods. Many of them end up in puree which, complemented with Chantilly Cream, turn this very humble nut into a very delicate and sophisticated taste. This recipe calls for a crème de marrons wich is store-bought, to which you add a little Chantilly cream.
Finally, you decorate the gâteau with a few pieces of these exquisite chestnuts and you have yourself a beautiful Bûche which in my eyes, competes with the best of them… and a fraction of the cost.
A classic Christmas Evening Dinner Dessert when Chestnut are in Season.
Candied Chestnut are sprinkled on top ! Decadent !

For the Cake
6 Large Eggs at room temperature
150 Gr. Caster Sugar
50 Gr. Cocoa powder, sifted
A little Icing Sugar

For the filling
150 Gr. can of chestnut puree in which you pour 2 tablespoons Cognac. Cut 2 Chestnuts glace in small pieces and use half in the filling for the cake. The remainder will be used to garnish the top of the cake.

For the Decoration
275 ml. double cream
50 Gr. dark chocolate
a Few holly leaves – decoration

Grease and paper and Swiss-roll tin – 32 X 23 cm.
Make the base cake by separating the eggs. Put the whites in a large bowl and the yolks in a smaller one. Then, using an electric hand whisk, beat the egg yolks until they start to pale in color and thicken. Add the sugar and continue to beat, until the mixture becomes thicker (not too stiff).
Fold in the cocoa powder until it is thoroughly blend in.
Wash the whisk heads in warm water and when they are absolutely dry, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Take one spoonful of egg white into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then begin carefully to fold all the chocolate mixture into the egg whites, cutting and folding until they are thoroughly combined.
Spread the mixture into the prepared tin, giving it a few taps to even it out and bake it in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes. The cake will deflate a little when coming out of the oven… don’t panic ! Let it cool at room temperature.
For the filling – easy… Pour the entire marron puree into a small bowl and pour in 1 tablespoon of each double cream and cognac… it is Christmas after all. The mixture should be easy to spread.
Once cooled, pour the cream on the cake using a palette knife and sprinkle half the candied chestnut.
Taking the edge of the greaseproof paper to guide you, roll the base over lenghtwise into a long roll, keeping it on the edge of the paper; then, transferring it to the plate. Don’t worry if it cracks.. the cream will hide all the sins.
Now to make an authentic looking log you need to cut two diagonal pieces off each end. Place one on one side of the log, cut side to join it, and the other on the other side, but this time nearer the top. The puree will act as a glue and you will see, it is quite easy.
Beat the double cream to stiff peak, but spreadable and cover the entire buche with the cream – Melt the chocolate in the microwave oven, and drizzle over the cream-covered log – using a fork, create a woody bark-like effect. Sprinkle the remainder Glace Chestnut and decorate with holly leaves, mini Santa figurines etc….
Spectacular and so delicious. !

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