Sunday, December 28, 2008

December Daring Bakers: French Yule Log

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.

This was an awesome challenge! It turned out much better than my disastrous Yule Log of last December (my first month in Daring Bakers). My housemates and I all enjoyed it, and my French housemate even said it was like the ones in France! Although the recipe is really intimidating, the result is delicious and each individual component is pretty easy. Please check out other Daring Bakers blogs for other flavors and variations, as I didn't have room to list them all here!

So, here are the layers from top to bottom!

On top is a milk chocolate icing. This was my least favorite layer, as I found it a bit too "gelled". I think next time I would use a regular chocolate glaze or just leave it without icing as the Yule Log is already very rich. The glaze was really pretty, though!

I chose to use a strawberry mousse as my base, and the flavor came out really was also very pretty! I think frozen strawberries are fine here since it gets cooked anyway. Just make sure to get the plain kind rather than strawberries in syrup.

crème brulée layer was tasty but took the longest to thaw, meaning it was a little icy when the other layers were ready to eat.

The praline crunch layer was probably my tasted like a rich, homemade Crunch bar. Yum! I used Scharffen Berger milk chocolate, which has less sugar than most milk chocolates and is extra rich. I also replaced about 1/2 ounce of the milk chocolate with some bittersweet to really boost the chocolate flavor. If you can't find Scharffen Berger, I would recommend upping the proportion of dark chocolate. It turned out great, even for my housemate who isn't so into milk chocolate. Because I didn't have gavottes (a crispy French crepe), I used crushed butter crisps. I couldn't find a picture of the exact ones I bought, but they were something like this.

The ganache layer was intense but amazing, especially when spread on a little dacquoise. I would definitely make this again as ice cream sauce.

The dacquoise had a subtle almond taste and was very sweet, but a good combination with the less sweet ganache.


French Yule Log (adapted from Flore from Florilege Gourmand)
1. Make vanilla crème brulée.
1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling in a small saucepan. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.

Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks in a small bowl, but do not beat until white.
Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.

Wipe an 8-1/2 inch long loaf pan with a very wet cloth and then cover with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
Let cool, wrap well, and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.
2. Make the praline insert.
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) Nutella
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes (gavottes) or thin and crisp butter cookies, coarsely crushed

Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
Off the heat, add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes or cookies. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.
3. Make the dacquoise biscuit.
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

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).
Sift the flour into the mix.
Beat the eggs whites in a separate bowl, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than the top of a 9-inch long loaf pan.
Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.
4. Make the strawberry mousse.
10-12 oz. bag frozen strawberries, completely thawed
2 medium-sized egg yolks

2 Tbsp (17g) cornstarch
1/3 cup (80g) whipping cream
3.5 oz (1/2 cup / 100g) granulated sugar
1.3 oz (36g) water
2.5 gelatin leaves or 5g / 2+1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium-sized egg whites

Place the strawberries in the blender and puree until smooth. Force through a sieve to eliminate as many seeds as possible. Measure out 7 oz. of the puree and reserve the rest for another use.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the cornstarch until thick, white and fluffy.
Heat the cream in a medium saucepan and once hot, pour a small amount over the egg yolks while whisking vigorously. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the rest of the cream in the saucepan, add the strawberry puree, and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens considerably, at least 3-5 minutes. Let cool to lukewarm temperature.

Make an Italian Meringue: Cook the sugar and water on medium heat until temperature reaches 244°F (118°C) when measured with a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, test the temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water. If it forms a soft ball, you’ve reached the proper temperature.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites until foamy in a stand mixer. With the mixer running, pour the sugar syrup into the whites in a thin stream. Whisk/beat until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The meringue should be thick and glossy.

Soften the gelatin in 1 tsp cold water and melt in a small saucepan with an additional 1 tsp of water or melt in the microwave for 1 second (do not boil). Put the melted gelatin in a mixing bowl and, while whisking vigorously, pour the lukewarm strawberry cream over the gelatin.
Carefully fold the Italian meringue into the mango mixture.
5. Immediately begin to assemble the log.
Line a 9-inch long loaf pan with plastic wrap, making sure to cover all surfaces completely. Pipe one third of the strawberry mousse into the mold, or just use a rubber spatula.
Take the vanilla crème brulée out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse. Pipe second third of the mousse around and on top of the crème brulée.
Cut the praline insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold. Pipe the last third of the mousse on top of the praline insert.
Freeze the log for a few hours to set.
6. Make the ganache insert.
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

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.

While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny. Let cool until lukewarm but not hardened.
7. Continue assembly of the log.
Pipe the ganache insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the dacquoise on top. Close with the dacquoise.
Wrap well and place in the freezer overnight.
9. Make the 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) light corn syrup

Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
Coarsely chop the chocolate and butter together.
Bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil. Off the heat, add the gelatin. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until smooth.
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.
10. Immediately finish assembly of the log.
Unmold the log and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan. Carefully cover the cake with the icing. Let set and return to the freezer.

Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving.
Cut thin slices (it’s rich!) and enjoy.


  1. Perfect slice!
    You tackle the challenge very well. And I am glad that your French friend liked it too.

  2. Great job! I agree that the parts with gelatin turned out sort of spongy and I did not love that texture. Glad you and your roommates all got to share!

  3. Wonderful job on your log! and I'm glad your French roommate thought it tasted like those from home (it really does although funnily enough I don't remember ever having one with so many inserts and I've had them almost every Christmas of my life, lol). Have a Happy New Year!

  4. Mmm stawberry mousse:) Very lovely and delightfull idea:)

  5. Very pretty! Your log is perfect! Great job!



  6. Lovely, really want to do a fruit one either strawberry or raspberry sometime!

  7. Your slice is just perfect...mine didn't slice this prettily! I love the color that the strawberries gave...I bet that was delicious! It's also so Christmas-y. Great job!

  8. That looks lovely with so many vivid colours! :) I liked the crisp layer best too. I think I'll make more just to snack on!

  9. Your layers came out so neat and I do love the colour contrast. Well done and have a happy new year.

  10. beautiful job! I bet the strawberry mousse was delish!

  11. Wow, what a colorful slice! That cross section looks incredible, and the flavors sound really good too. :)

  12. Next time I want to do a strawberry mousse, too! I think that would be just superb! I love your pictures, especially the slice on the pretty striped plate. Good job!

  13. The strawberry mousse looks delish! Very nice :)

  14. Oooh! This is so pretty! Wonderful job on this challenge,


  15. Looks great! Well done. I agree that it looked more intimidating than it was.

  16. Well Done! That certainly looks lovely and I love your choice of flavours. Blessed Christmas to you and yours!

  17. Perfect! The strawberry mousse sounds finger licking good:)

  18. What a beautiful buche Sara! Love the strawberry mousse in there & the colour it lent to the log. Well fact, YUM done!!

  19. Your log looks great. I really like the choice of Strawberry mousse; that is a great combination with chocolate. Great challenge! Happy New Year.

  20. Strawberry mousse sounds wonderful! The color looks so pretty! Great job.

  21. Ooolala! That strawberry mousse looks divine! Great job on this month's challenge :)

  22. pink and yellow look so pretty against each other! congrats!

  23. I love the strawberry mousse addition, and the crisp was my favorite too!

  24. Strawberry mousse sounds delicious. I agree with you about the creme brulee layer.

  25. It looks so fresh with the strawberry mousse!!! And if your french roommate complimented it, you know it has to be good!!! Well done!

  26. Your "slice" is beautiful! Your right, the pink really sets off the chocolate, and I'm sure tasted wonderful!

    Happy Holidays!

  27. How pretty and what a great Idea for stawberry mousse.

  28. I should imagine the strawberry mousse would have balanced out the chocolate so weel. The colours in your log are lovely.

    Best wishes for the festive season and a Happy New year.

  29. Great layers! I love the color contrast.

  30. mmm strawberry mousse!!! yumi!!

    Great job! :)

  31. Your layers look great. Love the pink, it's so pretty.

  32. Love the strawberry mousse! So pretty!

  33. So pretty! I love the strawberry mousse -- what a terrific idea.

  34. Strawberry mousse sounds divine! Lovely job! Happy New Year~

  35. You're yule log looks wonderful!

  36. Mmmm strawberry mousse!! Yummmm!!! Love it!!

  37. Beautiful! LOVE the strawberry mousse!

  38. The colors of your slice are lovely and festive. Well done.

  39. Your layers are perfect!!! Love the pink mousse :)

  40. What a cake! Love the photo. Also, i agree that the praline layer was amazing... you should try the coconut version- to die for!

  41. Ohhhh, I wish I had chosen strawberry!

  42. Your strawberry mousse looks delish!

  43. Mmmm! Strawberry mousse! Sounds fantastic!

  44. Mmmmm- It looks so yummy...

  45. Yum-- a strawberry mousse! Natural strawberry flavor is one of the tastiest flavors. And I have to say, the gavottes and praline paste were worth it (if you have a couple hours to kill of course).

    Thanks for including the bit about "Scharffen Berger milk chocolate, which has less sugar than most milk chocolates and is extra rich"-- I will have to try that, it sounds like it would be my ideal chocolate.