Holiday season in the kitchen
Saturday, December 24, 2011

Currently, we’re on a 2-week break until the New Year, hence, my lack of updates. I also made a trip to Lyon this week which I’ll be posting about later too. During our last week of class before the holidays, we made an assortment of plated desserts commonly found on dessert menus. We ended the week with Bûche de Noël, a Christmas log, to start the holidays.

The first three plated desserts are made mostly from sugar, eggs, milk/cream. By adjusting the proportions of the ingredients, you can create custards of different textures. The custard mixture is made by adding heated milk to sugar and eggs, just like a crème pâtissière (pastry cream). But, instead of boiling the custard mixture to thicken it, you bake it in moulds that sit in a water bath.

Here is the crème caramel, a creamy soft custard served in its own caramel sauce. To make the caramel sauce that coats the custard, we caramelize sugar and pour a thin layer onto the bottom of our ramekins. While the caramel sets, we make the custard mixture and pour it into the ramekins and bake in a water bath. After baking and cooling, the caramel becomes liquid again.

Now we have the mini pots de crème in coffee, chocolate and vanilla. The only difference, aside from the lack of caramel, is that the pots de crème are made with egg yolks so that it's a bit more rich.

And then we have the crème brûlée, the creamiest and richest of the custards. It's made with mostly cream and egg yolks, to double the richness. The mixture is poured into a small ceramic ramekins and baked in a water-bath until the sides are set. After cooling, the surface is sprinkled generously with sugar and torched until caramelized.

Rice pudding, my first time making it. I've never been a fan of rice pudding but lately, I've been liking it more and more. I guess my taste buds haven't settled yet. Anyways, this was an excellent rice pudding though I haven't had enough to really compare. We cooked rice in milk and then bake it until all the milk was absorbed. Then, we made a vanilla bavarois (pastry cream with gelatin), added the cooked rice, folded in whipped cream, and let it set in moulds. A layer of gooseberry jelly was poured into the moulds before making the rice pudding.

Good old apple crumble.

Charlotte aux pommes, something in-between an apple pie and bread pudding. The charlotte mould is lined with buttered slices of bread and filled with cinnamon-infused apple slices and baked.

Apple slices fried in batter. Only good when eaten right after coming out of the oil.

YK and CG's remake of Pierre Hermé's Ispahan, a macaron with rose buttercream, litchis, and raspberries. There was too much rose in the rose buttercream, tasted like eating a bar of soap to me. But other people liked it.

Here is Weebite's warm fruit soup with a puff pastry crust shaped like the Pringles man.

Molten chocolate lava cake with a raspberry filling and an almond tuile.

Plate of petits fours. From left to right: pistachio financier, tart tatin, chocolate eclair, rose macaron, lemon tart, chestnut financier, chocolate tart, and coffee eclair. Selling price, €40.

And now onto the Bûche de Noël, a cake traditionally served in France during the Christmas season that is shaped like a log. We made two different types, a more modern version made with mousse and a traditional version made with rolled génoise, sponge cake.

Here is the more modern version (from bottom to top) made of chocolate genoise, dark chocolate mousse, chocolate genoise, milk chocolate mousse and raspberries. We used a plastic mould which we lined with cake and mousse to give it a curved shape.

Then we made decorative chocolate squares for the ends of the cake. We spread tempered melted chocolate onto these plastic sheets already painted with designs. Just before the chocolate set, we cut lines into the chocolate to make squares.

After the chocolate is set, we tear off the plastic sheet, leaving behind a decorative design on our chocolate pieces.

We finished our modern bûche de Noël with chocolate glaze in the centre, a line of raspberries and a square of chocolate on each end. You might also notice the cake layer on the outside was made (or we tried) to look like a log. We did this by spreading a thin layer of dark chocolate biscuit on silpat, ran it over with a tool that created wavy lines, froze it, spread a layer of chocolate biscuit on top and then baked it.

And finally, a traditional Bûche de Noël.

The log is made from a sheet of génoise soaked with a coffee and rum syrup, spread with coffee buttercream, sprinkled with candied chestnuts (or raisins which is more traditional), and rolled up tightly.

Then we got to decorate it as we wish. We also made some meringue mushrooms and Christmas trees to put on our logs.

Here's my disproportionate snowman, christmas tree and mushrooms sitting on my log.

That's us enjoying our finished plated desserts. This is right before lunchtime too.

Well? Let me know what you think. Write me a comment below!