Christmas part 2: Buche Nero

Buche NeroFor Christmas, I made Buche Nevado but I wasn’t sure everyone would like it as it was made from white chocolate and almonds, which is too sweet for some people (my dad for starters). So I decided to “invent” a dark version and gave it the very original name “Buche Nero”, how’s that for my Spanish! After the taste test, the verdict was in: most tasters like this version better and apart from my dad that included my mom, grandmother and brother. My sister just couldn’t decide.

Here’s how I did it: I decided almonds wouldn’t work with dark chocolate, and used hazelnuts instead (the ones you also add to ice cream). To avoid it getting to sweet, I decided to replace the raspberry coulis by oranges instead, it works well in sachertorte, so I knew it would work well here too. For the rest, I stuck to the recipe and made it as follows:

To get started, line your mould with cling film that you first brushed with olive oil (if you don’t have a pastry brush, just put some oil on a paper towel and wipe that on the cling film).

The recipe consists of 4 elements and you can easily make it a day ahead. You can even make the chocolate mousse and coulis 2 days ahead as they need to set.

Step 1: orange coulis
Put 2 sheets gelatin in cold water to soften. Heat a pot of orange marmalade until boiling, then take it of the heat and add the sheets of gelatine (squeeze the water out first). Pour onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment or oiled cling film and put in the fridge to set. You can do this 2 days in advance.

Step 2: dark chocolate mousse
For the dark chocolate mouse, I used the recipe of Jeroen Meus, another famous Flemish TV cook, a bit the Jamie Oliver of Belgium. First, put 1 sheets gelatin in cold water to soften (you don’t need the gelatin for this recipe, but I added it to be sure as I’m taking the mousse out of a mould later). Melt 100 g dark chocolate au bain marie (so in a bowl over simmering water). If using gelatin, squeeze the water out of the it and add to the chocolate. Separate 3 eggs and mix the egg whites until stiff (you need to be able to turn the bowl upside down and that’s no joke! Add a pinch of salt to get there sooner). Now mix 180 ml cream until you see the trace if your mixer in it. You still want it to be half runny, if it’s too stiff it will split. Finally, mix the egg yolks with 50 g caster sugar for 5 min until they are foamy and almost white. If you do the mixing in this order (egg whites – cream – egg yolks) you don’t need to wash it in between! Now you’re ready to assemble: first mix the chocolate with the egg yolks. Now fold in the egg whites and finally add the cream. You want to fold in the cream quite quickly to avoid it splitting. Pour in the prepared tin until half full and allow to set in the fridge. You can do this 2 days in advance as well.
Tip: if you’re just interested in the chocolate mousse and have no desire to turn it into a log, this recipe will serve 4 people. Leave out the gelatin and pour into glasses and put in the fridge to set. You can decorate it with some red fruit for a gorgeous dessert.

Step 3: hazelnut sponge
Preheat the oven to 170 C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Put 75 g hazelnut powder in a bowl with 30 g icing sugar and 12 g plain flour and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, mix 90 g egg whites (from 2-3 eggs) until stiff, then add 50 g caster sugar and mix again. Carefully fold the egg whites into the almond mix until combined and spoon onto the baking sheet in a rectangular form, about the size of your loaf tin. Use a knife to nicely flatten the top. Bake in the oven for 10 min until the sponge is lightly golden and springs back to the touch. Remove from the oven, turn it out onto a sheet of lightly sugared baking powder, carefully peel off the lining paper and lay it back over the sponge. Allow to cool completely.

Step 4: hazelnut crumble
Turn the oven up to 180 C. Mix 100 g plain flour with 100 g hazelnut powder,100 g sugar1 g fleur de sel or salt and 100 g butter until it resembles bread crumbs. Put on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, roughly the size of your loaf tin, and bake for 12-15 min until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Now you’re ready to assemble. You already added the chocolate mousse to your loaf tin, and by now it is set. Take the coulis out of the fridge, cut it to the same size as your loaf tin and put it on top. Don’t worry if you need to patch it up a little. Now do the same with the sponge and finish with the crumble. Make sure to turn the crumble upside down for this, so that the flat part is on top. Put in the fridge again until you are ready to serve. When ready, turn out onto a serving plate (use a blowtorch to loosen a bit if you have one (if the chocolate is too runny after that, just put it back in the fridge for 15 min or so to stop it running), if not just peal of the cling film) and decorate as desired. Cut into slices and enjoy!

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Modern Christmas log: Buche Nevado

Buche NevadoFor Christmasm I was in charge of – surprise, surprise – the dessert. I didn’t want to make the traditional log, as I’m not a huge fan of that, so I opted for this modern version. I came across this recipe in a magazine. It’s a recipe from Joost Arijs who owns a patisserie & chocolaterie in Ghent, called, of course, Joost Arijs. It’s made of white chocolate mousse, red fruit coulis, almond sponge and almond crumble. The recipe indications where very fragmented, so I consulted other recipes as well to get the desired result. Also, I figured not everyone is a fan of white chocolate because it’s very sweet, so I created a dark version as well, I’m calling it Buche Nero and I’ll be adding the recipe soon as well!

But first for the Buche Nevado. I don’t have a buche mould, so I opted for a normal rectangular loaf tin instead. I did some tests on how to best get a chocolate mousse out of it, and 2 options work best: adding the chocolate mousse straight to the mould and then going round the mould with a blowtorch to melt it a bit so it slides out or, if you don’t have a blowtorch, oiled cling film. So to get started, line your mould with cling film that you first brushed with olive oil (if you don’t have a pastry brush, just put some oil on a paper towel and wipe that on the cling film.

The recipe consists of 4 elements and you can easily make it a day ahead. You can even make the chocolate mousse and coulis 2 days ahead as they need to set.

Step 1: red fruit coulis
Put 2 sheets gelatin in cold water to soften. At this stage, the recipe suggests making your own coulis by mixing 150 g red fruit, passing it through a sieve and adding 25 g sugar. Or you can use the shortcut and just buy raspberry coulis as I did. The next step is identical: heat the coulis (if making your own, you want the sugar to have melted) until boiling, then take it of the heat and add the sheets of gelatine (squeeze the water out first). Pour onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment or oiled cling film and put in the fridge to set. You can do this 2 days in advance.

Step 2: white chocolate mousse
White chocolate mousseAt this point, the recipe just indicated to make a mousse with the ingredients, so I opted to use the “no fail” recipe of Piet Huysentruyt, a Flemish Michelin-star-turned-TV-star instead. First, put 2 sheets gelatin in cold water to soften. Heat 400 g white chocolate in 1/2 dl cream (adding the cream will avoid burning the chocolate) and stir until melted. Squeeze the water out of the gelatin and add to the chocolate. Seperate 4 eggs and mix the egg whites until stiff (you need to be able to turn the bowl upside down and that’s no joke!). Add 50 g caster sugar and mix again. Now mix 1 and 1/2 dl cream until you see the trace if your mixer in it. You still want it to be half runny, if it’s too stiff it will split. Finally, mix the egg yolks with 50 g caster sugar for 5 min until they are foamy and almost white. If you do the mixing in this order (egg whites – cream – egg yolks) you don’t need to wash it in between! Now you’re ready to assemble: first mix the chocolate with the egg yolks. Now fold in the egg whites and finally add the cream. You want to fold in the cream quite quickly to avoid it splitting. Pour in the prepared tin until half full and allow to set in the fridge. You can do this 2 days in advance as well.
Tip: if you’re just interested in the chocolate mousse and have no desire to turn it into a log, this recipe will easily serve 4 to 6 people. Just pour into glasses and put in the fridge to set. You can decorate it with some red fruit for a gorgeous dessert.

Step 3: almond sponge
Preheat the oven to 170 C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Put 75 g almond powder in a bowl with 30 g icing sugar and 12 g plain flour and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, mix 90 g egg whites (from 2-3 eggs) until stiff, then add 50 g caster sugar and mix again. Carefully fold the egg whites into the almond mix until combined and spoon onto the baking sheet in a rectangular form, about the size of your loaf tin. Use a knife to nicely flatten the top. Bake in the oven for 10 min until the sponge is lightly golden and springs back to the touch. Remove from the oven, turn it out onto a sheet of lightly sugared baking powder, carefully peel off the lining paper and lay it back over the sponge. Allow to cool completely.

Step 4: almond crumble
Turn the oven up to 180 C. Mix 100 g plain flour with 100 g almond powder, 100 g sugar, 1 g fleur de sel or salt and 100 g butter until it resembles bread crumbs. Put on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment, roughly the size of your loaf tin, and bake for 12-15 min until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Adding coulisNow you’re ready to assemble. YLayersou already added the chocolate mousse to your loaf tin, and by now it is set. Take the coulis out of the fridge, cut it to the same size as your loaf tin and put it on top. Don’t worry if you need to patch it up a little. Now do the same with the sponge and finish with the crumble. Make sure to turn the crumble upside down for this, so that the flat part is on top. Put in the fridge again until you are ready to serve. When ready, turn out onto a serving plate (use a blowtorch to loosen a bit if you have one (if the chocolate is too runny after that, just put it back in the fridge for 15 min or so to stop it running), if not just peal of the cling film) and decorate as desired. Cut into slices and enjoy!

Buche Nevado

Chocolate heaven: sachertorte

SachertorteThis is alway a huge hit and it’s really not hard at all to make! I made it for my grandparents recently and when my grandmother opened the box her eyes started to twinkle and a big smile appeared. She quickly closed the box and put it away, I didn’t even get a piece myself, she kept it all for her! The recipe comes from and old cookbook my mom has that isn’t reprinted anymore. As you can see, I need to work on my cake-writing skills but luckily that doesn’t affect the cake at all!

A sachertorte is a chocolate cake filled with chocolate mousse and marmalade and covered with even more chocolate. So first, make the chocolate mousse. You can easily make this one or more days ahead. Melt 75 g dark chocolate “au bain marie” (so in a bowl over hot water – you can also microwave it, but put the microwave in defrost mode and stir regularly because if the chocolate burns it won’t stay smooth). Seperate 2 eggs and beat the yolks with 2 tbsp sugar until it’s foamy. Now stir in the chocolate. Beat the egg whites very stiff (you need to be able to hold the bowl upside down, and that’s not a joke!), it goes easier if you add a little pinch of salt. Spoon the egg white under the chocolate mix and put the bowl in the fridge for a couple of hours or over night until it’s a mousse!

Now make the chocolate cake: first grease a 26 cm round cake tin and preheat the oven to 140 C. Separate 6 eggs and beat the egg whites very stiff in a large bowl. Put the mixer on the lowest speed and, while continually beating, add the egg yolks, a packet of vanilla sugar (or the seeds from 1 pod), 200 g sugar, 1 tbsp custard powder (the kind you buy to make vanilla pudding), 40 g cacao powder, 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder, 100 g self-raising flour (sifted) and 2 tbsp oil (I use sunflower – and you really need the oil to make the mix glossy). Pour the batter in the tin and bake in the oven for 60-70 min (a skewer inserted in the middle should come our clean). Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Now we’re starting to assemble: first, split the cooled cake horizontally. I do this by using a long sharp knife cutting halfway through the cake and then turning the wire rack around until I’m back where I started from. Add a layer of chocolate mousse to the bottom half, followed by orange marmalade (you can also use raspberry if you prefer, but you’re cake will be a lot sweeter if you do so, now it gets a tangy taste). Put the upper half back on top. Melt 100 g dark chocolate with 2 tbsp cream (again “au bain marie” or in the microwave on low). Use this to cover the top and sides of the cake. If you want to write something on top, just melt a bit more chocolate to do so. Enjoy!