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Daring Bakers December Challenge: Hazelnut Genoise filled with Chocolate cream and Iced with Coffee/Hazelnut/Chocolate Buttercream...Yule Log

I must say Lisa and Ivonne chose one of the most time consuming challenges during the busiest time of the year. But those that know me well know I thrive under pressure. With a little Pre planning and a day off work at my disposal I jumped on in. Coincidentally this challenges deadline coincided with my work places holiday baking competition. The grand prize were $300 ,$200,$100 and my competitive spirit was kicking in.I didn't win. It was kind of a letdown after all that work. I got beaten out by a Navy Bean cheesecake, a pound cake,and a apple pie. I think the marzipan rabbit freaked them out.The reaction I got from my aunts and her friends was if the bunny were something from Fatal Attraction!If you have read my blog before, you know I'm into cake decorating. A Buche de Noel /Yule Log not only presents opportunities to master the daunting genoise (of which I've never been successful), classic meringue based butter creams, rolling techniques,sugar craft, etc. I wanted my Buche to 'pop'. I love hazelnuts and decided to incorporate toasted ground hazelnuts into my genoise .This would complement my butter cream which I added hazelnut syrup.Thank goodness for my new Kitchen Aid. It really is worth its weight in gold.The genoise made me the most nervous. I slightly overcooked it even at 10 minutes. I think those hazelnuts caused this. But the smell was heavenly!. When rolling it, after a liberal brush of Cointreau mixed in Simple Syrup, and filling it with the chocolate pastry cream, it started to crack. But it still rolled and would be covered with icing. The end scraps I cut away tasted so good. But genoise is a very dry cake that needs careful attention.Letting my log rest a while I went to town with the marzipan. Not only did I make the requisite mushrooms, but decided to make a rabbit with the leftover marzipan. Who knew homemade marzipan was so easy and fun!I painted the rabbit with color gels diluted with vodka. Seems like my dormant art schooling was waking up. I must say this was the most fun and rewarding challenge I have done so far( only my thrird).I finally got to taste my creation, as my colleaugues were to scared to touch it. Sweet and chocaolately. The Hazelnut complimented all the flavors. What amazed me that real buttery taste from the buttercream that comes though after sitting out for a bit. This challenge was a excellent way to get into the festive Holiday Spirit. Check out the other Daring Bakers.

To all my Daring Bakers, I wish you peace, love,health, and prosperity in the coming year.

The December 2007 DB Challenge: Yule Log

Sources: Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri and The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert
Serves 12

Cake should be stored in a cool, dry place. Leftovers should be refrigerated.
What Is Required•
A genoise cake (using the recipe below)
• A coffee buttercream frosting (using the recipe below)(Note: For those of you that have an aversion to coffee, you can use another flavour for your buttercream, however, the buttercream must be dark in colour. We don't want any white or cream-coloured Yule Logs!)
• Meringue or Marzipan mushrooms (using the recipes below)
What You are Free to Do- Your genoise must be made using the recipe provided; however, it can be flavoured however you wish. Make it chocolate, add nuts, douse it in liquor, throw in some citrus or just leave it plain. It’s entirely up to you how you flavour it. (Substitutions for health reasons are allowed but you must let us know.)- While the outside of your Yule Log must be frosted with the coffee buttercream using the recipe provided here, you are free to fill the recipe however you choose. Fill it with fruit, jam, melted chocolate, pudding, whipped cream, or another frosting of your choice. You have complete freedom when it comes to the FILLING. (Substitutions for health reasons are allowed but you must let us know.)- At the very least, besides the coffee buttercream, you must decorate your log with mushrooms. We have provided a recipe for meringue mushrooms and marzipan mushrooms. You can choose one or the other or you can try both. But you must try at least one type of mushroom.- You have complete freedom, besides the mushrooms, to decorate your logs however you wish.- You have complete freedom to make your logs in whatever shape you like (mini logs, one huge log, an upright log, etc.)Note: If you are not going to use the coffee buttercream to fill your log, be sure to have the filling ready once the genoise comes out of the oven. If you do fill your Yule Log with fruit or with something other than buttercream, please note that you may not be able to freeze the Log because the filling may not last.
Plain Genoise
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
¾ cup of sugar
½ cup cake flour - spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off (also known as cake & pastry flour)
¼ cup cornstarch
10 x 15 inch jelly-roll pan that has been buttered and lined with parchment paper and then buttered again.
*I added toasted ground hazelnuts about 1/3 cup
1.Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
2.Half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so the water is simmering.
3.Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, salt and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Place over the pan of simmering water and whisk gently until the mixture is just lukewarm, about 100 degrees if you have a thermometer (or test with your finger - it should be warm to the touch).
4.Attach the bowl to the mixer and, with the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the egg mixture is cooled (touch the outside of the bowl to tell) and tripled in volume. The egg foam will be thick and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon falling back onto the bowl of whipped eggs when the whisk is lifted.
5.While the eggs are whipping, stir together the flour and cornstarch.
6.Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the beaten eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour mixture, making sure to scrape all the way to the bottom of the bowl on every pass through the batter to prevent the flour mixture from accumulating there and making lumps. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and finally with the remainder.
7.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
8.Bake the genoise for about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure the cake doesn’t overbake and become too dry or it will not roll properly.
9.While the cake is baking, begin making the buttercream.
10.Once the cake is done (a tester will come out clean and if you press the cake lightly it will spring back), remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.

Coffee Buttercream:
4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons (3 sticks or 1-1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons rum or brandy
*I added hazelnut syrup and melted chocolate
1.Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set the bowl over simmering water and whisk gently until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are hot. 2.Attach the bowl to the mixer and whip with the whisk on medium speed until cooled. Switch to the paddle and beat in the softened butter and continue beating until the buttercream is smooth. Dissolve the instant coffee in the liquor and beat into the buttercream.
Filling and frosting the log:
1.Run a sharp knife around the edges of the genoise to loosen it from the pan.
2.Turn the genoise layer over (unmolding it from the sheet pan onto a flat surface) and peel away the paper.
3.Carefully invert your genoise onto a fresh piece of parchment paper.
4.Spread with half the coffee buttercream (or whatever filling you’re using).
5.Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake into a tight cylinder.
6.Transfer back to the baking sheet and refrigerate for several hours.
7.Unwrap the cake. Trim the ends on the diagonal, starting the cuts about 2 inches away from each end.
8.Position the larger cut piece on each log about 2/3 across the top.
9.Cover the log with the reserved butter cream, making sure to curve around the protruding stump.
10.Streak the butter cream with a fork or decorating comb to resemble bark.
11.Transfer the log to a platter and decorate with your mushrooms and whatever other decorations you’ve chosen.
Meringue Mushrooms:
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar½ cup (3-1/2 ounces/105 g.) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (1-1/3 ounces/40 g.) icing sugar
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
1.Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip. In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the icing sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.
2.Scoop the mixture into the bag. On one baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each ½ inch (12 mm.) wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, ¾ inch (2 cm.) tall, and spaced about ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1-1/4 inches (3 cm.) wide and ¾ inch (2 cm.) high, also spaced ½ inch (12 mm.) apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.
3.Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50-55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes longer. Let cool completely on the sheets.
4.Garnish your Yule Log with the mushrooms.
Marzipan Mushrooms:
8 ounces almond paste
2 cups icing sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Cocoa powder
1.To make the marzipan combine the almond paste and 1 cup of the icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on low speed until sugar is almost absorbed. 2.Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and mix until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
3.Add half the corn syrup, then continue mixing until a bit of the marzipan holds together when squeezed, adding additional corn syrup a little at a time, as necessary: the marzipan in the bowl will still appear crumbly.
4.Transfer the marzipan to a work surface and knead until smooth.
5.Roll one-third of the marzipan into a 6 inches long cylinder and cut into 1-inch lengths.
6.Roll half the lengths into balls. Press the remaining cylindrical lengths (stems) into the balls(caps) to make mushrooms.
7.Smudge with cocoa powder.
In addition I used some tips and recipe for the chocolate pastry cream from this link.

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Nemmie said...

You were robbed - love the rabbit :) Great job on the challenge!

Dharm said...

I think the rabbit looked very realistic! Great job and I dont care what anyone else says, everything looks really great! Just LOVE the rabbit!!!

marias23 said...

Yo neighbour :) I guess I'm not the only night owl on our group. Anyways, marzipan does look like so much fun! I should've done that instead of the meringue. Then again, meringue is so tasty!

Also, I totally agree with you that the KitchenAid mixer is the bomb, isn't it? I just can't imagine my (baking) life without it!

Dolores said...

Well, damn. This looks like a winner to me. I love your marzipan rabbit -- though I confess wondering if it was a casualty to the fallen log, the fact that you *attempted* to create woodland creatures amazes me.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy, healthy new year!

Princess of the kitchen said...

Wow. You made that bunny! How clever. Well done!

michelle said...

Oh... I *love* the bunny! A beautiful yule log. Happy holidays!

The Caked Crusader said...

Wow - cool rabbit! I like your dark buttercream - mine was paler.
How delicious was this challenge?

Lewis said...

WOW!You made a rabbit! Looks absolutely beautiful!


Aamena said...

wow, the rabbit is freaky! great job!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

The rabbit is incredible! What a great decorative inititative! I think it is great, andhow can you compare an apple pie to this? ! ?
Was it made with golden apples?

Chris said...

Wow! That rabbit is great - a little freaky - but great! Great job on the challenge!

Claire said...

I'm quite impressed with the rabbit...though I didn't quite understand when I first saw it! A NAVY BEAN CHEESECAKE???? Hmmmm...I think you should have place!

Brilynn said...

My painting skills don't go beyond putting dots on my mushrooms, well done!

Suzanne said...

Fantastic bunny. You are a marzipan artist!

Peabody said...

I think the bunny is spectacular...all that work! A great job...sorry you didn't win.

Lis said...

You definitely should have won! All the time and effort really shows and I love the rabbit! =)

Very, very nice job!


Rachel said...

The rabbit's so adorable! Great looking log there!

seasons greetings!

african vanielje said...

I love your rabbit, even though it is just a little bit scary. Well done, your yule log looks gorgeous. And merry Christmas to you too.

Hilda said...

That rabbit is awesome, you should have won just for that! Your log looks great, good job. Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Look at the rabbit!

Jenny said...

Wow, that rabbit was not something I expected to see, that's creative! Happy holidays!

Julius said...

Goodness, that rabbit is just adorable!

I love your bûche de Noël.

Happy Holidays!

Julius from Occasional Baker

Truffle said...

Absolutely beautiful. Your decorations are so lovely. Especially that rabbit!

Beth G. said...

That is amazing!! Great job on the bunny!!!

Katie said...

Oh wow hazelnuts, why didn't i think of using those?! Your cake looks and sounds divine. I'm so so impressed with your marzipan rabbit, its just amazing

Lunch Buckets said...

The bunny startled me. When I was making my log I kept thinking "this needs woodland creatures" but I squashed it. The thought, not the creatures!

KayKat said...

Love that rabbit! Hey, you better rescue him from under that delicious yule log :)

Cheryl said...

I think the rabbit is frightening realistic. wow you really have some skills.

Anonymous said...

The rabbit is so cute! Love that personal touch it adds to the log =)

Elle said...

They voted for pound cake instead of your Yule log! Silly people!
I love the marzipan rabbit, the richness of your buttercream color and texture, the hazelnut and orange is all beautiful!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That rabbit rocks! Your friends are nutty. Love the rabbit. Wish I had that skill. I did enjoy making the mushrooms.
Excellent log, mushrooms and I did say I love the rabbit!

Veron said...

what a great looking bunny. Love your log!

April said...

It looks great! I also think that the bake off had to be rigged. It looks like a winner to me!

Deborah said...

I love the rabbit!! I would have voted for you! And I agree about the Kitchen Aid - I don't know how I could have done this challenge without it!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very well done! I love that cute rabbit!



coco said...

You've made the rabbit really well! :)
Happy holidays!

Judy said...

The rabbit is amazing. I can't believe a navy bean cheesecake was the winner!

Jen Yu said...

Oh my goodness, I LOVE that rabbit! You are an artiste and you should have won hands down. It would have been different if the DBers had been the judges... Have a great new year and congrats on a fantabulous yule log (it's gorgeous).

jen at use real butter

Dhanggit said...

its the cutest yule log cake i've ever seen..your rabbit stole the day!!

Quellia said...

Holy Rabbit! If you had not shown the picture of the rabbit unpainted, I would not have believed that was marzipan!
Well done.

linda said...

At first sight I thought the rabbit was real which was sort of a tiny bit scary with the log on top of it. But when I read you made it yourself I was very impressed! Wonderful job! And love the addition of hazelnuts too...

Christina said...

That is such a darling rabbit! It reminds me of the marzipan pig I never ate because of its cuteness, then when I did take a piece I spit it out because it was rancid!

Great job on this challenge, it looks beautiful.

Christina ~ She Runs, She Eats