From the kitchens of Fauchon: Countdown to Christmas Eve
Friday, January 11, 2013

I’m currently updating from my hostel in Copenhagen. I’m travelling with a friend I met at Fauchon so we’ll be checking out some of the local bakeries.

But today’s post is about all the Christmas preparations that went on in the kitchen. The day before Christmas Eve was the longest working day I had at Fauchon, 7am – 8pm with a short lunch break. But time flies by very quickly and the kitchen is a madhouse. We were also really short staffed because 6 people had to go home early from food poisoning/flu. I suspect it was the cheese plate from cuisine that they all ate (luckily I did not), though our Chef kept denying it.

Edible bonnets. The base white part is milk chocolate mousse with a centre of ganache gianduja, and a base of chocolate biscuit. The red part is a milk chocolate shell filled with the same milk chocolate mousse. The little white ball on top is a vanilla marshmallow. Really cute isn’t it?

The cristal, individual sized. It’s a white chocolate shell with cassis mousse, crunchy salty chocolate biscuit pieces, and a citrus quince compote. This was a new item this year, and the featured buche noel. I really like the cristal; the mousse is very light and fruity and the salty crunchy chocolate biscuit pairs very well with it. The quince also adds quite a unique flavour, it’s something I haven’t tasted before. It is a huge pain to make though, probably the most time consuming component in our kitchen.

Here is a 6 person portion of the buche cristal, which sells for 90 Euros. I’m glad I got to eat many ‘defected’ ones in the kitchen :)

The packaging room. We all got some (rather ugly IMO) pink Santa hats. At least they kept us warm, especially when you need to get something from the back of the freezer room.

We ordered these special Fauchon boxes for the buche cristal. They all come with extra quince compote on the side.

Boxes of buche cristal ready to be sent off.

On the day before Christmas Eve, I spent almost 3 hours finishing all the sugar decors for each of the buches. The rectangle is made very similar to rock sugar candy. It sits on 2 meringues which each sit on a chocolate disk; all attached with glucose.

I assembled about 300-400 sugar decors per type of buche and since we had 4 different buches, that means we made over a thousand buches for Christmas!

Are you wondering how we prepare over a thousand buches days before Christmas Eve? Well actually, we don’t and neither do any other big kitchens in Paris. Each type of buche was assembled on one afternoon in November, then they were stored in our freezer room until Christmas. We cut, glaze, and decorate all the buches on the 23rd. However, the cristal was made with a silicone mold which was specifically designed and ordered for Fauchon which meant that we didn’t have enough molds. So almost every afternoon for 2 weeks, 3 of us would work on the cristal and unmold it after it was frozen.

The decoration assembly line on the day before Christmas Eve. We spent the morning glazing, then we decorated them all at once in the late afternoon.

Buche Victoria. The exterior of the log is a layer of cherry biscuit and inside is layers of raspberry compote, pistachio bavaroise, with a crunchy base of pistachio, praline, chocolate and feuilletine.

And more assembly lines.

It gets quite dizzying after the first assembly line.

Buche Mageve. Exactly the same as the the cake; dark chocolate mousse, meringue, and a crunchy base of chocolate, praline, and feuilletine.

Buche Cara’choc. This is also exactly like the cake; caramel cremeux, dark chocolate mousse, chocolate biscuit, and a base of chocolate, praline, and feuilletine.

Buche Mont-Blanc. The exterior of the log is a layer of cassis biscuit and inside is filled with chestnut mousse, blueberry and blackberry compote, and chestnut biscuit.

On my last day of work, I got to help make the galettes for January. Again, these will be frozen until the morning they’re needed. Finally, I got to work with some dough! Since I finished school, I’ve rarely had to chance to work with any doughs because it’s usually all done by the Chef de Poste of Tour (responsible for making all doughs). Here are the galettes we made in class last year.

1. Brush water onto a disk of feuilletage (dough). 2. Place a disk (frozen) of pate d’amande in the centre of the dough. You can kind of see the gold and silver ‘F’ feves that we hide in our galettes. Personally, I like the mini pastry feves that the Maison du Chocolate uses.

3. Take another layer of dough, but turn it a quarter before sealing. We do this so that when the dough rises, it will remain circular and not contort into an oval shape. 4. After sealing all the edges, we turn it over to egg brush and score (make markings).

The completed and baked galette.

Thought it’s a very simple and traditional version, I think the galette at Fauchon is quite good.

The feuilletage is very well made, look at the buttery fine layers! On the day we got to try our galette, I ended up with the feve in my slice, yay. I guess it makes for a nice souvenir from my stage.

Here’s the Christmas gift I received from Fauchon. All the employees at Fauchon receive a bag filled with all sorts of goodies (marron glace, foie gras, terrine, jam, tea) and a bottle of Champagne. On top of that, everyone also gets to choose a 6-person buche to take home. I thought this was a very generous gift from the company.



One Glorious Comment
  • Lester
    January 13, 2013
    Could you elaborate a little on the quarter-turn thing with the galette? I love these little pro insights. Thanks