Bûche de Noël (Chocolate Yule Log)

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! Today I’m sharing with you an incredibly easy yet delicious cheat’s version of the classic French Christmas dessert – Bûche de Noël.

For a traditional pudding-hater like myself, Christmas dessert has never brought much joy. Sure, you can smother your piece of pudding in custard (which I do) and that helps a bit, but somehow the fruity-boozy flavour that I hate so much still overpowers it. Anyway, fortunately I’m not the only pudding-hater in my family and so last year Mum made this Bûche de Noël (chocolate yule log) in addition to the pudding for dessert. This yule log is sweet (but not overly so) and very light – perfect for a hot summer’s day. It proved so popular last year that we’ll be making it again this year 🙂

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Ingredients (Serves up to 12)
1x 250g packet Arnott’s chocolate ripple biscuits (or equivalent)
600ml thickened cream
1 tspn caster sugar
1 tspn vanilla essence
20g cocoa powder
Grated chocolate, to decorate
Spearmint leave lollies, to decorate
Raspberries, to decorate

Method
Using an electric mix, mix cream, sugar and vanilla together until stiff.

Fold in the cocoa until combined.

Spread a small amount of the cream along a long, rectangular serving plate to make a base. Spread 1 biscuit with 1 ½ teaspoons of cream and then top with another biscuit. Top with another 1 ½ teaspoons of cream and then place biscuits on their side onto the cream base on the serving platter.

Repeat until all biscuits have been used, to form a log.

Spread remaining cream over entire log, reserving a small amount for the branch.

Cover loosely with foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours to set.

Just before serving, cut cake diagonally about a quarter of the way in and use that piece as a branch off the main log.

Patch it up with the remaining cream so it looks attached.

Use a fork to make some lines along the branch to look natural and then sprinkle with grated chocolate.

Decorate with some raspberries and spearmint leaves and serve. Enjoy!

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Adapted from Arnott’s ‘Bake and Create’ Recipe booklet.

Celebration Sponge Cake

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I made this sponge cake over the weekend for my Grandma’s 80th Birthday. I really wanted to make something special as it is widely accepted that my Grandma is one of the most amazing humans on the planet (really, she’s exceptional). This cake looked amazing, tasted delicious and is very adaptable – you can use any fruit that’s in season to put on top, and fill it with anything you like. If I was in a rush I would even be inclined to buy a sponge cake, cut in half and decorate it to get the effect with minimal time and effort.

Ingredients
For the sponge: 
3 eggs, separated
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour

For the sweetened, thickened cream:
500ml thickened cream
Icing sugar (to taste)
Vanilla extract (to taste)

For the jam: https://bakerholicsanonymous.wordpress.com/recipes-2/frostings-icing-condiments/raspberry-jam/, alternatively you can use store bought (but it is likely to be sweeter)

For decorating: 
2 punnets fresh strawberries
1 punnet fresh raspberries
1 punnet fresh blueberries
1 pomegranate
Fresh mint

For the macarons: https://bakerholicsanonymous.wordpress.com/recipes-2/cookies-biscuits-macarons/raspberry-macarons/ (with the raspberry jam to sandwich)

Method
Make the raspberry jam according to instructions.

If desired, make the macarons according to instructions. Sandwich with some of the jam.

For the sponge: 

Preheat oven to 160°C (fan-forced). Grease two 20cm round, shallow tins and line the bases with baking paper.

Use electric beaters to beat the egg yolks, sugar, water, and vanilla for approximately 10 minutes, until very pale and thick. Wash the beaters and then, in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and baking powder until stiff peaks form.

Fold the sifted flours into the yolk mixture and then gently mix in the egg whites.

Divide evenly between the tins and bake for 20 minutes or until springy in the centre and the cake has come away from the sides of the tins.

Gently turn cakes, face up, onto wire cooling racks with clean tea towels on them (this stops the wire from denting your cakes). Leave to cool entirely.

For the Cream

Add cream, icing sugar (to taste) and vanilla extract (to taste) into a large stick blender/master container (or bowl) and blend until the cream is very thick.

To Assemble 

Lay one of your sponges top-down on your serving platter.

Spread with raspberry jam (or desired filling).

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Spread a generous layer of whipped cream on top.

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Top with strawberry slices, chopped evenly.

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Gently place the other sponge, top-side up onto the cake.

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Top liberally with cream and spread it evenly, right out to the edge (but not down the edge, you still want to see the cake).

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Top with fruit and mint leaves (the more the better often for aesthetics – and flavour!) And, if desired, place macarons with a blob of cream and a raspberry on top, evenly around the cake.

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Enjoy!

Recipe from Grandma

Old Fashioned Vanilla Fudge

This fudge reminds me of my childhood as it tastes just like the vanilla fudge I used to buy at my local community’s autumn fair. Smooth, creamy and delicious – this fudge has the power to change lives (or at least bring on diabetes…) BEWARE: Highly addictive!

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Ingredients (makes approx. 40 pieces)
250ml milk
50ml double cream
350g caster sugar
100g butter
1 tsp vanilla

Method
Grease and line a cake tin of your choice (I used two thin loaf tins because I wanted fewer, thicker pieces to experience full creaminess). Put milk, cream, sugar and butter in a large heavy-based saucepan and heat slowly, stirring continuously.

Bring to the boil, keep stirring & cook until the mixture has reached soft ball stage (approx. 115°C – I’m lucky that my sugar thermometer has it marked). Remove from the heat and continue to stir it for a few minutes then add the vanilla. Keep stirring for a few more minutes and then pour into prepared tin/s, leaving it to cool at room temperature (NOT THE FRIDGE!)

Once cooled, cut into pieces of your desired size and say goodbye to all your troubles.

Nomnomnomnom

Adapted from Frugal Feeding’s ‘Traditional Vanilla Fudge’