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Log on to a French Christmas! Make a Bûche de Noël!

My poor non French people,

What does your Christmas look like? Are you cooking like crazy, or shopping like a mad person, or both?
Relax! Have a Cognac! I have Noël all figured out for you.

Presents?
Just buy my book, the Everything Easy French Cookbook for everybody in the family! It has just been made available on amazon, and can be shipped right on time…

Cooking?
Just prepare an easy and very traditional French Christmas Dessert : bûche de Noël!

Bûche de Noël

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This cake really means Christmas for every French person I know.

Every year, starting early december, French pastry chefs show off their new recipes for the winter, just like couturiers present their fall-winter haute couture connection.

For instance this year, my chouchou, chocolate artist Jean Paul Hévin, invented an amazing chocolate Christmas ornament, that I would love to taste right now…
He called it bûche maboule“, which is a French pun of word: “ma boule” means my Christmas ornament… and maboule means crazy, which is totally relevant for this crazy round chocolate bûche!

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Bûche de Noël is a  reminiscence  of the log (bûche) that was traditionally blessed and lit every Christmas in the Middle Ages.

People would go to the forest and cut down the biggest log they could. The head of the family would then bless it and set it on fire in the family fireplace. It had to keep burning for at least 3 days, sometimes 12, until Epiphany on January 6th.

Somewhere in the 19th and 20th century, the tradition disappeared (mostly because France became less rural, and people living in cities didn’t have any fireplaces!) and people started making an edible log instead.

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It’s always hard for me to make one because of my grand mother Laurence.

Her bûche was legendary, and everybody in the family still talk about her crème au beurre. She made Christmas seem even more magical, as she managed to feed 20 persons and more with great food and an amazing smile, as if it was the easiest thing.

Helping her make her last bûche is one of my sadest childhood memory. She had alreasdy started losing her memory and could not remember the recipe very well. The next year, there was no buche at all. Her mind was gone, and so did her cahier de recettes, the notebook in which she had written all her recipes since she was a teenager.

My uncle and I have tried many times to make her recipe again, just as I did for rondiaux, but there’s always something sad about it, and maybe in a way I want to just keep a perfect memory of my mamie’s bûche. This is why this year I decided to not make the traditional crème au beurre, , but to create my own version, with the crème de marrons I had just made.

La bûche à la crème de Marrons

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6  eggs
1/2 cup  sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup flour
1 jar of crème de marrons
2/3 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter

Make ahead, at least one day before Christmas.

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Separate the yolks and whites. Put the egg yolks in a large bowl, and the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk the whites steadily for 1 minute, then very slowly add  1/2 cup sugar.
  • In the large bowl, whisk the 6 egg yolks, then slowly add the cornstarch and the flour. Add the egg whites slowly, folding them gently into the batter.
  • Spread the batter on a rimmed baking sheet covered with parchment paper, using a wooden spoon to make sure it is evenly spread. Bake for 10 minutes.
  • Cover the with plastic wrap so that it doesn’t dry out. Let it cool down.
  • Then speed the crème de marrons over the surface. Roll the cake over into a log shape.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the glaçage.
  • Melt the whipping cream and the chocolate together over low heat. Add the sugar, stir well, let it cool down for 3 minutes, then add the butter cut in dices. Stir again until smooth, and pour all over the cake.
  • Refrigerate 24 hours before serving.

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I hope it will make your Christmas as delicious and warm as my childhoods’ Noels.

Joyeux Noël les amis!

 

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