– Hey guys, today I’m gonna show you how to make a classic
French holiday dessert known as a buche de noel. It’s one of my favorite
holiday desserts out there because it is so beautiful and so festive, and of course so delicious, too. Now, the thing to know
about a buche de noel is it is not the quickest or
easiest dessert out there, because we have to tackle
the delicate sponge cake, the rich chocolate hazelnut pastry cream, the dainty meringue mushrooms, those charming fondant pine cones, and of course the chocolate bark on top. It is one showstopper
of a holiday dessert. I’m telling you, it’s
completely worth the effort. And not to worry, because
I’m gonna take you through all the prep,
every step of the way. In fact, I’m gonna show
you how to prep this starting at December 22, so that you can manage
a little bit every day and be able to serve it
stress-free on December 25. Let me show you how to make it. The meringue mushrooms
are most traditional, so if you only have time for one of these I would say go with the mushrooms. They’re also a little bit easier, I think, than the pine cones, which can be a little bit tedious. I’ve added the pine cones over the years, but now I love them so
much that I always try to make time for at least a few of them. Okay. So the begin your meringue mushrooms, here’s what you’re gonna do. In a bowl of an electric mixer, you’re going to add four egg whites, half a teaspoon of cream of tartar, and then you’re also gonna add a quarter teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla. So you’re gonna whip that up on high, just until the egg whites
start to become nice and frothy and they begin to become opaque. At that point, you’re gonna
slowly add a cup of sugar. This will help keep those egg whites nice and light and fluffy. At that point, you’re
going to transfer this in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip. I like to use about a half-inch size because I think that’s a really great size to make a mushroom. And then working with two sheet pans that are covered in parchment paper, you’re gonna pipe out the mushrooms. So you’re gonna pipe a little
round mound of egg white, and then a little tiny,
about half-inch stem. At this stage, we’re gonna take a spoon that has been dipped in some cold water and we’re just gonna go
over and just touch it with any of the peaks. And you’ll see, that will
get them to settle down. Now, one great thing about the mushrooms is you don’t need to have a
ton of skill or precision. In fact, I think they’re even better when they’re all a little
bit different sizes because let’s be honest,
that’s how they grow in nature. And then we’re gonna
dust with a little bit of unsweetened cocoa powder. I like to add the cocoa
powder at this step because it will actually set
right into the meringues, which will prevent it from
really dusting off too much when you go to decorate
your buche de noel. Then we’re gonna place
these trays in the oven at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, for one hour. Yeah, they do take some time. This is why we’re doing
this a few days ahead, because it does take
time for that meringue to really dry out and set. And then you’re gonna take some melted bittersweet chocolate, and you need a small paring knife. And basically what we’re gonna do is carve a little hole in
the bottom of each cap, dip it in the chocolate. And then I also like to take the stem, one end of it, and dip
that in the chocolate. And we’re gonna glue the
two together, you see? And then you have a really beautiful little meringue mushroom. And then you can rest this just on your cookie sheet
like that to set up, and they do take an hour
or two for that to happen. So next up, let me show you how to make these adorable little
chocolate fondant pine cones. They look really
sophisticated and complicated, but actually all it is
is chocolate fondant and sliced raw almonds. Pull off a little ball of it, about the size of a ping pong ball, and roll it into a ball. And then once you get your little ball, you wanna actually flatten one side of it and then cone up the top of it. So you’re trying to create
like, a little pyramid. And don’t worry, it
doesn’t need to be perfect. We’re really just looking for a form. It’ll be covered by all the almonds. Then, you want to get
those sliced raw almonds that still have the skin on it. I think that looks really pretty because they look even
more like pine cones. And you’re just gonna take the almond and insert it into the fondant. And you wanna start making a row, tilting the almond upward,
going all the way around. Then when it comes time
to do the second row, you’re gonna start about
an eighth of an inch up. So you wanna leave a little bit of space to see the brown in between the almonds. And then you wanna start the first almond kind of like, in between the
two almonds of the first row. You kinda wanna alternate it. So you don’t wanna have almond and almond, you wanna stagger it
because that will also make it look more authentic. Now, even though you have
a few more rows to go, it does get easier as you go up because you need less almonds. And it’s pretty meditative. It is a great project to
put on the Christmas carols, get your kids involved,
get people to help you, and bust out eight of
these little pine cones. And then with a metal spatula, you can transfer them onto a sheet pan. And these will stay just like this for a few days at room temperature. The nice thing is that that fondant will start to dry out a bit, and it’ll make these a lot more stable and less fragile, too. Okay, so we’ve got our decorations down, we’re feeling really good. This was the hardest part, or probably the most
tedious part of all of this. So it’s gonna go all downhill from here, smooth sailing ahead. (twinkling music) So let’s start by the cake. So in order to make a
cake that is actually going to roll into the
shape of a yule log, you need to make a really spongy cake, because they have a lot of give to them. There are a lot of methods out
there for making this cake, but I find this is the
simplest, most direct. We’re gonna be working with
a half-sheet jelly roll pan, and I’ll leave you the
dimensions in the description. And what I typically do is spray the whole thing with baking spray and then line it with
some parchment paper, and then go over with my pastry brush on the parchment paper, too,
just for added insurance. So we’re gonna begin
with a medium-sized bowl, and you wanna put a strainer over the bowl because we’re gonna sift our ingredients. And you’re going to add half a cup of plain all-purpose flour, half a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, half a teaspoon of salt, and a quarter teaspoon of baking soda. You can go ahead and whisk that up while it’s being sifted, and there you go. You’ll have a really beautiful,
fine powder on your hands. So you can set that aside, and then in the bowl of an electric mixer you are going to add six eggs and half a cup of sugar. And you’re gonna let this go for anywhere from five to seven minutes, until it triples in volume. And you’ll see, it’ll
create the most beautiful, pale yellow, billowy mixture. That’s what you want. And at that point, you’re gonna add one teaspoon of vanilla extract, and you can beat that up. And then you wanna have at the ready your dried ingredients and five tablespoons of
unsalted melted butter. And then alternating, you’re going to take a scoop of the dry ingredients and put it in the cake,
and mix it up on slow. You don’t wanna overbeat
it because we don’t want all of that beautiful
volume to then deflate. And then add a little
bit of the melted butter. So you’re gonna do that, alternating the dry ingredients
and the melted butter, until everything is nicely incorporated. Then we can take our beautiful batter, and we’re going to pour it
into the center of the pan. And this is where an offset spatula is really worth the investment. I find it’s the best
way to get a very nice, smooth, even surface. And then you’re gonna put it
in a 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for anywhere from eight to 10 minutes. So that’s a good part about this cake, it bakes very, very quickly. And you don’t wanna overbake because then it’ll really dry out and will be harder to roll. So do keep an eye on it. And you’ll know that it’s done once it’s firm to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean. Then you wanna allow this
cake to cool completely, because we really wanna make sure that we have the best
chances of rolling it. And it’s much better when
it’s completely cool. If you try to roll it
when it’s still warm, it could snap on you and crack. So you don’t want that. Then before releasing the cake, you wanna make sure you
have a few things ready. We wanna have a damp kitchen towel, and then you also wanna take a little bit of unsweetened cocoa powder and dust it over the towel. And then you also wanna take a knife and just run it around the cake, because you wanna make sure that you’re gonna have a
clean edge to release it and it’s not gonna get stuck to the pan. Then you wanna line up the cake pan to the center of the kitchen towel. And then with one delicate motion, you’re going to flip the cake
over onto the kitchen towel and then you’re gonna very gently remove the parchment paper. And then moving on one side, you’re going to start to roll up the kitchen towel into the cake. I know this sounds like a strange thing, but basically what we’re doing is we are trying to create a mold so this cake will stay in
the shape of our yule log. So just very gingerly go ahead and fold, and this is why a sponge
cake is so critical. And you can kind of
feel its spongy texture. It will really give on you, and the damp kitchen towel will also help it become
a little bit more pliable. And then you can just tuck the ends under and put it in your refrigerator overnight. Okay, so one task done, now we’re gonna tackle the pastry cream. So in a large sauce pan, we are gonna add two cups of whole milk and one vanilla bean that has
been split down the center and scraped at the seeds. And you can put both in
the pot with the milk. And then you wanna allow
that to get up to a simmer. Then in a large bowl, you’re
gonna add four egg yolks and a quarter cup of corn starch, or corn flour you may know it. And then whisk it up until
everything is nice and combined and you have a pale yellow
mixture on your hands. Then, once that milk starts to simmer and become kind of foamy, you want to strain it through a strainer just to catch the pod and any of the seeds that are too large to
go through the strainer. And you can be whisking all the while. Then you wanna make sure that
you wash out your sauce pan, because at this stage the
milk does have a tendency of sticking kind of to the bottom. And if you start to create pastry cream in that environment, the pastry cream will stick to the bottom. So it is a critical step. Do not get lazy and not wash out the pan. You will not be happy. So then you’re gonna
take your custard base and put it back into your cleaned-out pan, and then on medium high you’re just gonna whisk all the while until it starts to bubble
and boil a little bit. And at the same time, you’ll also see it start to thicken very, very quickly. And at this point you wanna
reduce the heat to medium, and just keep whisking very rapidly until that pastry cream
gets nice and thick. And at that point, we are going to add a quarter cup of
chocolate hazelnut spread. And you wanna whisk that
into the warm pastry cream, and that will turn your pastry cream into a chocolate hazelnut pastry cream. Then once your pastry cream is done, you want to transfer
it into a shallow bowl, and then take some plastic wrap and put it right on top, smoothing out the surface and making sure that it’s really nice and tightly-wrapped. That will prevent the pastry cream from getting any condensation
or forming a skin. And then you wanna put this
in your fridge overnight. (gentle violin music) Okay, that last day of prep, December 24. Here’s what you’re gonna do. It just gets easier from here on out. You’re going to take your pastry cream that has been in the fridge and transfer it to a large bowl. At this point, we are going to fold in some homemade whipped cream
to lighten this mixture. And just go ahead and fold it in until it’s nice and light and
probably doubles in volume. Then you’re going to take
your cake log and unroll it, and you’ll see it should just kind of stay right like in a log form. And it’s better if you
keep it in that log form, kind of roll it back up, because it will be easier
to transfer that way. And we wanna transfer it
onto a clean dry dish towel, also sprinkled with some cocoa powder. And then you can kind of unfurl that log. And then we are going
to add our pastry cream. So I like to add a little bit
at a time right in the center, leaving at least two
inches on either side, because that will really help
when we go to roll it up. Then, you’re gonna work from one end and roll up the cake log. Then when you get to the very end, here’s a little tip for you. You don’t really wanna
take that last bit of log and flop it on top of each other, because the pastry cream
could kind of seep out. What I think the better thing to do is take the end of the dish towel and pull it towards you, and that will kind of roll
the log at the same time. And then you can keep
rolling the log in the towel, because we want to now cover our cake and pastry cream back into a dry towel and put this in our fridge overnight. And what this will do is
really set up that log so that it becomes very easy to slice into when you go serve this tomorrow. And that’s all you have to do for today. (gentle guitar music) Okay, it’s just about showtime
for our buche de noel. This is the last and final prep. We are going to assemble,
plate, and decorate. So to make our chocolate bark, you’re gonna need two
pieces of parchment paper. And then we’re gonna take four ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate, which you can do in the microwave, 30 second increments until
it’s completely melted, pour it into the center of your paper. And then with an offset spatula, just smooth it out into
like, a large rectangle. And then you’re gonna put the
other parchment paper on top, smooth it out with your hand, and then pop this in the freezer for probably about 10 minutes or so. We’re gonna do that so that it hardens up. Then meanwhile, we can get
our buche de noel ready. So you’re gonna take your
log out of the fridge, and at this point I also like to give it one final dust of the cocoa powder. And then transfer the
log onto the platter, seam side down. And then you can go get the decorations, which is the real fun part. So I like to take a couple
of those pine cones, put them on the corners, and then nestle in our
little meringue mushrooms. I like to kind of pile them up and have some pointing
in and some pointing out. It just looks so pretty that way. Then we’re gonna take our chocolate from the parchment paper. Now that it’s nice and hard, you can roll that up. And as you roll it, it’ll start to create these really nice chocolate shards that you can use to decorate
the top of your buche de noel. And I think it’s great. The more uneven and kind
of jagged the better, because that’s what real bark looks like. And then a winter log
would not be complete without a dusting of snow, right? So then we’re gonna take
a little powdered sugar and we’re gonna dust
it on top of the bark. And then I also like to
do, ever-so-slightly, on top of the pine cones. And there you have it, one fantastic-looking holiday dessert that is sure to impress. It’s such a beautiful dessert idea. It does take a little
work, I will not lie. But if you start on December 22, you cannot go wrong. And if you don’t have the time, if you’re watching this on December 24, just grab a few friends. This is a great project to assign each person
a part of the recipe, and that way you could
accomplish it a lot quicker. Alright you guys, I’ll see
you back here next week, when I’m gonna have a very
special guest in my kitchen. I am gonna be joined by my dad, who’s going to show me how to make his world-famous eggnog recipe. You don’t wanna miss that. Until then, bye. (twinkling Christmas music)