I really don't know how people work in Starbucks.
I have schlepped my camera, camera connector, recipe and laptop all the way to Oregon, where I am working today, and I can't hear myself think over the whining of the sullen teenager sitting next to me at the counter, who apparently doesn't wish to sit with his family a few tables away but still wants to communicate from a distance.
This month's Cake Slice Bakers pick was a challenging one: a traditional French Bûche de Noël, or Yule log, complete with meringue mushrooms and chocolate leaves. I set out on Saturday thinking that it would be time-consuming, but not complicated.
Boy, was I wrong.
Chocolate-Almond Bûche de Noël
Adapted from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle
For the cake:
2/3 cup cake flour, sifted
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa, sifted
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. amaretto liqueur
24 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
2 tbsp. soft almond marzipan paste
Meringue mushrooms (may be purchased here)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a standard rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper, and then spray it with nonstick baking spray with flour.
In a separate, larger bowl, lightly beat together the eggs, oil and vanilla. Add the flour mixture all at once and stir until just combined.
Using a hand mixer and a clean bowl, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar to the soft peak stage, about 5-7 minutes. Drizzle in the remaining 1/3 cup of granulated sugar and continue beating until the whites are stiff and glossy.
Fold a third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until just combined, then gently fold in the remaining whites. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 12 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched lightly.
While the cake is the oven, thoroughly dust a clean dish towel with powdered sugar and lay out on the kitchen counter. When the cake is done, gently invert it onto the dish towel and remove the parchment paper.
Roll the cake up with the dish towel, starting at a long end. Place the entire roll seam side down on a cooling rack.
To make the syrup, combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. When it boils, add the amaretto, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool completely.
Start the frosting by melting the bittersweet chocolate in a small saucepan with two tablespoons of water, whisking until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the chocolate from the heat and allow it to cool completely.
Using a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese with the powdered sugar until well blended, then add the almond extract. This will not make a terribly sweet frosting, which kept the cake from becoming too one-note in my opinion. You may add sugar if you prefer a sweeter frosting.
Divide the frosting into two bowls. To one, add the cooled chocolate and beat with a hand mixer until blended. To the other, add the marzipan and beat until blended.
To assemble the cake, unroll the cake from the dish towel. Brush the cake thoroughly with the amaretto syrup--there will be some left over.
|One of my actors demonstrating how not to eat this cake. |
Do not try this at home.
Serves approximately 12 people.