Monday, December 21, 2015

Snow, Christmas Lunch, Dinner Party,

Well, we had a dollop of the white stuff on Friday night with flurries off and on all day Saturday. Everywhere is white but I don't think it will last very long. They are certainly predicting a green Christmas. Pity because it does look so nice with all the Christmas lights. However, it makes it better for anyone driving, especially any distance. I guess these days if I want a white Christmas I have to go somewhere like Colorado. No doubt we will pay for it in the New Year. Later on Sunday afternoon, looked out and the majority of it has already disappeared.

Monday is our Christmas lunch at the bowling alley. Usually quite a lot of fun except I have to control myself. This season is bad for anyone with weight problems. People tend to say "let yourself go, it's only once a year" but they say the same thing for birthdays, Easter, etc. etc. and if one let oneself go every time, I dread to imagine the result.

For my Saturday dinner party, I cooked Braised Paprika Chicken. Not as popular as I hoped, but I had quite a lot of the sauce left over as well as the rice I served with it. Sunday supper I amalgamated the two and it was delicious. The Convent Eggs went down well on Saturday. Haven't made them for a while and had forgotten how good they were. I cheated with dessert and bought some mini cheesecake cupcakes which were good. Getting lazy in my old age. One day this week, probably Wednesday, I have to make my mincemeat pie/tart. It seems I will have at least 2 if not 3 things for desserts on Boxing Day.

I thought this sounded like a wonderful recipe although I suspect not many people would take the time to make it. I know I would try if I had a family to feed, it would probably be delicious.

Gingerbread Bûche de Noël

In this festive recipe, Dorie Greenspan reinterprets the classic French bûche de Noël, a Christmas cake fashioned to look like a Yule log. Instead of the usual chocolate cake filled with ganache, she bakes a fragrant lightly spiced sponge cake and fills it with pecan cream cheese filling, while billowing marshmallow frosting evokes a snowdrift. It’s a project to make and can take the better part of a day. Or split it up and make the components over a few days. Either way it’s time well spent. There’s no holiday dessert more spectacular than this.

1 cup/120 grams pecan halves or pieces
⅓ cup/70 grams granulated sugar

4 tablespoons/60 grams unsalted butter, melted and cooled, more for buttering parchment
¾ cup/100 grams all-purpose flour
¼ cup/30 grams cornstarch, sifted
¾ teaspoon/4 grams groundcinnamon
¾ teaspoon/4 grams ground ginger
¼ teaspoon/1 gram fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon/1 gram black pepper
6 large eggs
¾ cup/150 grams packed light brown sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting and rolling

8 ounces/225 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons/115 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of fine sea salt
½ teaspoon/3 grams groundcinnamon
2 teaspoons/10 milliliters vanilla extract

½ cup/120 milliliters egg whites(from about 4 large eggs)
1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon/3 grams cream of tartar
1 tablespoon/15 milliliters vanilla extract

    Heat oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in center. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Spread pecans on sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Stir and set aside in a warm spot.
    In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1/4 cup/60 milliliters water. Place over medium-high heat. Cook sugar, washing down sides of pan if needed with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until sugar turns a medium amber color.
    Remove pan from heat and add nuts. Stir with heatproof spatula or wooden spoon to coat nuts with syrup. Spread nuts on baking sheet and cool completely. (Praline can be made up to a day ahead; store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.) Finely chop 1/2 cup praline; coarsely chop the remainder.

    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12- by 17-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Butter the paper, dust with flour and tap out excess.
    In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, salt and pepper.
    Have a wide skillet about 1/3 full of simmering water on the stove. Using a stand mixer, whisk together eggs and brown sugar. Set the mixer bowl in the pan of simmering water. Whisk nonstop until mixture is very warm to the touch, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
    Using the mixer, beat sugared eggs until they have more than doubled in volume and have reached room temperature, 7 to 10 minutes. Switch to a spatula and fold in flour mixture in two additions. Pour melted butter into a small bowl, scoop a big spoonful of batter over it and stir. Pour butter mixture into batter in bowl and fold it in. Scrape batter out onto prepared baking sheet and spread evenly with an offset spatula.
    Bake until cake is golden brown, lightly springy to touch and starting to pull away from sides of baking sheet, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan to cooling rack for no more than 5 minutes; you want to roll the cake while it’s hot.
    Lay a cotton or linen kitchen towel (not terry cloth or microfiber) on counter and dust generously with confectioners’ sugar. Run a table knife around sides of cake and invert onto towel. Carefully peel away parchment. Lightly dust cake with confectioners’ sugar. Put parchment back on cake, with the clean side against the cake. Starting at a short end, roll cake into a log; don’t worry about cracks. Return rolled up cake (still in towel) to rack and let cool, seam side down.

    Put cream cheese, butter and salt in bowl and, using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Beat in cinnamon and vanilla. If using immediately, stir in 1/2 cup finely chopped praline. If not, leave praline out, transfer filling to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. (Whisk chilled filling to return it to spreadable consistency, then add praline.)

    Unroll log and carefully remove parchment; leave cake on kitchen towel. Beginning with a short end, gently roll up cake, peeling away towel as you go. Unroll cake onto the towel or a clean piece of parchment.
    Spread filling across surface of the cake, leaving a scant 1-inch border uncovered on the long sides. Starting from short side, roll up cake, trying to get as a tight a roll as you can. Place cake on a parchment-lined cutting board, cover and chill for 30 minutes.

    Put egg whites in clean, dry bowl of electric mixer with whisk attachment. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cream of tartar and 1 cup/240 milliliters water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover and boil for about 3 minutes. Uncover and attach a candy thermometer to pan and cook until it reads 242 degrees. When sugar reaches 235 degrees, begin beating whites on medium speed. If you get to the point where the whites look as if they are about to form stiff peaks and syrup is not at 242 degrees yet, lower mixer speed and keep mixing until sugar is ready.
    At 242 degrees, with mixer on medium speed, stand back and carefully and steadily pour hot syrup into bowl. Try to get syrup between side of bowl and the whisk. Add vanilla and keep beating until frosting cools to room temperature, about 5 minutes. You will have a shiny marshmallow frosting, which you should spread immediately.

    Remove cake from refrigerator. Frost on the cutting board and then transfer to a serving platter, or put it on platter now. To keep the platter clean during frosting, tuck strips of parchment under the log, putting just a sliver of the parchment under the cake and leaving the lion’s share to protect your platter.If ends of log look ragged, trim them. Using an offset spatula, table knife or the back of a spoon, swirl frosting all over cake in a thick layer. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to set frosting and firm up filling. Sprinkle cake with coarsely chopped praline before serving.

Have a great day


  1. That dessert is like the dacquoise I made years ago. Took three days to make but was delicious. Probably the best dessert ever.

    1. I thought you would be interested Denise. It does look like a good dessert.

  2. Glad you had fun at your lunch! That dessert looks good but very hard to make! Kudos to you for typing all that out!

    1. Lunch is today JoJo. Not so much as hard to make as a lot of work.

    2. Lunch has now been enjoyed, and yes, it was fun thanks JoJo

  3. I think I would enjoy eating that dessert but not so much making it. We're having a very warm Christmas too. Not even a snow flurry so far.

    1. I agree Susan. Today we are getting lots of moisure, the rainy kind.

  4. Actually, the funny thing is that people think Colorado gets blasted by snow, but it's pretty mild compared to other states. This year we're expecting a slightly snowy Christmas, but most years it's been fairly warm and sunny. More Christmases than I can remember I spent in a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals.

    Also, my dad makes a dessert like that, but without the frosting. It just has a sweet cream cheese filling. I'll have to point him toward this recipe and see how he feels about adding a little extra sugar on top (we all have a big sweet tooth).

    1. I thought you said you had had snow already. We are supposed to get lots of the stuff by now but as I said it is raining at the moment. Even in NC I only spent one really warm Christmas.

      Like father like son, both cooks!! So how about you making it. I'm assuming I am talking to Bryan.

  5. Christmas is the only time of year I truly let myself go. Christmas day in particular. But even then I try to fill up on salads and clean food before I begin on the pudding. We are expecting monsoons to finally arrive in our region on Christmas Eve which means rain at last! Hope you get some snow on Christmas Day.

    1. We don't see as much as a lettuce leaf on Christmas Day of course Pinky. Monsoon, bit damp then? I don't think we will get any snow.

  6. Hi Jo - snow I could do without ... but we do need some cold - what will this quarter of the seasonal year bring us ... I think I will note as we progress. The Buche looks delicious ... but I'd prefer your paprika chicken - I prefer savoury! Cheers and enjoy the next couple of days in the lead up to Friday .. Hilary

    1. I like some snow Hilary, but cold would be good too. It's not exactly warm here, but not as cold as normal. I like both sweet and savoury. Hope you enjoy lead up to Christmas too.

  7. Sorry the chicken and paprika wasn't a major hit. Making the mince pies? Very cool.

    Happy Christmas, Jo.

  8. The chicken sounds good to me-yum. We had no snow in our area (St. Catharines). This city is in it's own little globe. I wish we would have a white Christmas but, alas, it is not to be this year. The recipe sounds quite good but very involved

    1. We didn't get much snow Birgit. They always say we are in the banana belt.

      It is involved, I agree.