Sunday, December 28, 2008

December 2008 Daring Bakers Challenge #1

Awhile ago while searching for recipes, I came across a website for the Daring Bakers. So, I clicked on the link and found a community of food bloggers looking for a challenge. Every month the group is given a recipe that is chosen by a predetermined host. The whole group is to make the recipe as listed only making changes as allowed by the host. Then the group all posts their results within a specified time period.This was great, it was a way to turn my love of cooking and baking into more of a challenge. So here I am with my first Daring Baker's challenge.
This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.
I had no idea what a french yule log entailed but here is the geist of it: In France you can buy two types of yule log, either the genoise and butter cream type or the frozen yule log which is reminiscent of an ice cream cake. Instead of ice cream, however, your yule log is comprised of frozen mousse.

The challenge rule is that you must make ALL SIX ELEMENTS FOR THE LOG which includes the dacquoise biscuit, mousse, ganache insert, praline (crisp) insert, creme brulee insert, and icing.

Since this was my first challenge I had hoped for something less complicated, but I guess this was a great way to break me in. Challenge completed and I posted on the first day!!! Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!

Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)


2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal

1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar

2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour

3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites

1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

1. Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds). 2. Sift the flour into the mix.3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.4. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.6. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm). 7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden. 8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Tips: You can get almond meal at a specialty store or just finely grind almonds in your food processor, which is what I opted for. Very Easy! I also made the coconut dacquoise which meant I substituted 1/4 cup almond meal for 2/3 cup toasted shredded coconut. This element turned out great with no problems whatsoever.

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse

Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.


2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin

1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar

1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup

0.5 oz (15g) water

50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)

6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white). 2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer. 2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.3. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.6. Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Tips: This element was also fairly easy, however, allow time for the mousse to be refrigerated. Very yummy!

Element #3 Cinnamon-Milk Ganache Insert

Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.


1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

2.7 oz. milk chocolate, finely chopped

3.2 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped

3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

A pinch of cinnamon

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).2. While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Add the cinnamon to the cream in this step. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.4. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Tips: I found this step difficult due to the carmelizing of the dry sugar. I had to do this step twice and even then the sugar hardened almost immediately upon contact with the cream. The second time around I removed the sugar from the burner as soon as it completely melted, but even then some of the sugar hardened like candy.

Element #4 Coconut Crisp Insert

3.5 oz (100g) white chocolate

1 oz (1/3 cup/25g) shredded coconut

1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) unsalted butter

2.1 oz (60g) lace crepes or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K

1. Spread the coconut on a baking tray and bake for 5-10 minutes at 375°F (190°C) to toast (a different temperature might work better for you with your own oven). 2. Melt the white chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Stir until smooth and add the toasted coconut. 3. Add the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape.

Tips: Watch your coconut in the oven. I didn't use a double boiler, just the microwave. Turned out fine.

Element #5 Chocolate Creme Brulée Insert

½ cup + 1 2/3 Tbsp (140g) whole milk

2/3 cup + 1tsp (140g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1/3 cup (25g) unsweetened cocoa powder

4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks

1.4 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar

1. Heat the milk and cream to just boiling. Add the cocoa powder. 2.Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).3.Pour the cocoa milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well. 4.Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.Tartelette says: You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won't matter as much since it will be covered with other things)....BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:- you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done- you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better- it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bathNow...since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.Refrigerate until hard.

Tips: The creme brulee had a wonderful taste but it took FOREVER to set up. I ended up increasing the temperature to around 300 degrees, which really speed it up.

Element #6 Milk Chocolate Icing

1.5 gelatin sheets or 3g / 1/2Tbsp powdered gelatin

4.2 oz (120g) milk chocolate

2 Tbsp (30g) butter

¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)

1 2/3 Tbsp (30g) glucose or thick corn syrup

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.2.Coarsely chop the chocolate and butter together. 3.Bring the cream and glucose syrup to a boil. 4.Add the gelatin. 5. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until smooth.6. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.


Unknown said...

I TOTALLY agree about watching your coconut in the oven...mine burned and then caught on FIRE!!! Almost was disaster beyond burnt coconut! You did a great job on your log. Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Mrs Ergül said...

I like the thick sinful slices! So yummy!

Jo said...

Great job on your challenge and I did the coconut crisp as well. Have a great new year.

raquel said...

Excellent job for a first challenge! Well done. And those slices, yummmmmmy!

Hilda said...

Fantastic job on your first Challenge! You are now a bona fide Daring Baker (can you say trial by fire...) I'm glad this worked out well for you. Have a Happy New Year!

Helene said...

Absolutely wonderful job on your log! The coconut version sounds scrumptious!

Melissa said...

holly! that is beautiful! I think we should see that sometime on a table at a relief society function... or craft group :) I want to taste it! you are very talented!

silverrock said...

Beautiful yule-log, great job on this month's challenge! Keep up the amazing bakes!

Olga said...

Glad I wasn't the only one who had probles w/creme brulee: mine took two hours!

Amy said...

Great job on your first challenge - welcome Daring Baker!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your first challenge! It looks fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful log, great the decoration!

Namratha said...

That is a perfect log, looks delicious!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Wonderful job on your first challenge! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!