Christmas eve. There is an excitement in the air as we are getting ready for the family feast. Shirts and matching ties, dresses, jewellery and make up. The dinner table is shining bright with the Villeroy and Boch porcelain set, wine crystal glasses and silverware. We are sharing a smile, and a peaceful feeling of contentment and pleasure to be simply home and to be together.
Setting the festive menu has been easy. Champaign and puff pastry pancetta cocktail canapés. Followed by backed pork tender loin staffed with apples, served with croquettes and caramelised chicory. The dessert however was the real piece de resistance – chocolate Buche de Noel, syruped with rum, filled with vanilla custard, wrapped in marzipan and glazed with orange flavoured chocolate. What a feast! Worth every single hour spent in the kitchen slightly worrying over every dish. Worth every kiss and triumphant encouragement shared with my dearest ones while enjoying our Christmas family dinner. And above all, utterly, amazingly and fabulously delicious.
For the sponge
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg white
- 80g sugar
- 70g plain flour
- 20g good quality cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- 15g butter
For the syrup
- 50g sugar
- 1 tsp rum essence
- 100ml cold water
For the creme filling
- 2 Vanilla sugar essence (8g each) packages Dr. Oetker
- 125ml milk
- 30g sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 25g plain flour
- 100g white chocolate
- 200ml cream
- 250g natural marzipan
- 200g chocolate
- 50g powder sugar
1. For the sponge: preheat the oven to 180C, then prepare a 25cmx38cm Swiss roll tin by laying it with baking paper.
2. Put the eggs, egg white, sugar and a pinch of salt in mixing bowl and place over a pan go gently simmering water, whisking continuously for 7-8 minutes until the mixture has turned light, volumes and thickening.
3. Remove from the heat and continue beating at a high speed for 3-4 minutes until the mix is cool and leaves a trail on the surface when the hand mixer beaters are lifted form it. In three batches sift in the flour and cocoa powder by hand, folding in carefully with a metal spoon between each addition. Pour the melted butter into the mixture and fold it in. Pour the mixture into the Swiss roll tin and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, leave to rest for 2 minutes then roll the soft pastry together with the baking paper in a roll and leave to cool completely.
4. For the syrup: Put the sugar and the water in a pan and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes until all the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the rum essence and leave it to cool.
5. For the creme: Put the vanilla sugar essence and the milk together in a pan and bring to a boil. Mix the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl, then sift in the flour. Pour over the hot milk and whisk over a low-medium heat, bringing to a gentle simmer. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring all the time. The creme will become smooth and very thick. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely. Over a pan with simmering water, place a glass bowl and melt inside the white chocolate. Once melted, remove from the heat and let it cool completely. Add the cooled white chocolate to the vanilla creme and mix together. Whisk the cream until light and fluffy then fold in the cream into the vanilla creme with a wooden spoon.
6. To assemble the log: Unroll the sponge and brush the top with some of the syrup, then spread the vanilla creme over with a palette knife, leaving 2-3cm border at one of the short edges of the sponge. Starting with the short end, roll in the sponge as tightly as possible, removing the baking paper as you go. Once the sponge is rolled, brush in more rum syrup over the top.
7. Dust a work surface with a powder sugar and roll out the marzipan to about the necessary size to roll over the sponge log. Lay the marzipan over the log so it fits snugly.
8. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over simmering water. Once melted, let it cool slightly. Little by little pour the chocolate over the log, Set the chocolate to cool completely over the log. Use any extra melted chocolate that might have come next to the log to shape into pieces resembling twigs and decorate the surface of the log. Place the log in a service plate and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.