Thursday, December 27, 2007

Yule log or Buche de Noel

The Yule log or Buche de Noel is part of the traditional Christmas dessert, especially in North Europe. It's not certain when and who created this cake for the first time. But, based on the ignredients used, for sure is around the 1850's.

One popular story behind the creation of this dessert is that Napoleon I of France issued a proclamation requiring households in Paris to keep their chimneys closed during the winter. So some French bakers invented this dessert as a symbolic replacement around which the family could gather for story-telling and other holiday merriment.

Traditionally this dessert is made of spongencake and chocolate buttercream, but since then, so many variations came up. My recipe calls for a luxurious cheesecake filling! The only thing: I've bought it already done!!!! Yeah, I know it's not 100% homemade, but  after I saw this filling in a supermarket, I've decided to try it and see how it would have work into a yule log (it worked really well!!!!). But, my New Year's resolution will be to try to replicate that by scratch!!!!

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Spongecake:

6 eggs, separated

¼ + ½ cup sugar

⅓ cup dark cocoa powder

3 tablespoons flour

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

24 oz no-bake cheesecake filling

sour cherry in light syrup  as needed

Topping:

10 oz heavy cream whipped with powdered sugar to taste and 3-4 tablespoon of dark cocoa powder

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan. Line with parchment paper. Sift together flour and cocoa. Beat together sugar and egg yolks at high speed until light and fluffy. At low speed, alternately beat milk and flour mixture into egg mixture. Using clean beaters, beat egg whites at high speed until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Fold one third of beaten whites into batter. Fold in remaining whites. Spread batter in prepared pan; smooth top. Bake cake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until set, 15 minutes. Dust a clean cloth with confectioners' sugar. Turn cake out onto prepared cloth. Remove paper. Starting with a long side, roll up cake, jelly-roll style. Transfer, seam-side down, to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes. Unroll cake; remove cloth. Spread filling over cake. Re-roll cake. Place, seam-side down, on serving plate.

Assembly: Cut the two side on bias and attach the on the side of the yule log. Then spread the topping all around the yule log. With a fork make some line all over. Decorate (optional) with mushrooms meringues.

Mushroom meringues:

2 large egg whites, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup sugar

 

Preheat oven at 200 F. Beat the egg whites until foamy.Add the cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until soft peaks form.  Continue beating (increasing speed to high), gradually adding the sugar, until the whites are very stiff and glossy. Pipe the meringue into round (to make to the head of a mushroom) and into a cone-shape (to make the bottom part) on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove and let cool. 

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!!!

Dears friend, who is close and who is far away, this is that time of the year where the little things seems to count the most and you realize what's really precious and what's not.

That's why I wish you, from the bottom of my hearth, to have a peaceful and happy Christmas with the people you love the most (it doesn't matter if it's two of you or hundred!!!), enjoying any single moment.

Have a Merry Christmas and don't eat too much. I'll wait you here with new recipes!!!!

auguri di natale 2007-08

Sweet Christmas to you all !!!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Carousel Torte

This cake represent for me the idea of having fun in the kitchen. I come up with  this design thinking of everything that can means, actually smells of Christmas: candy cane, gingerman cookies, chocolate, mint, cinnamon... And actually, my main idea was to recreate a sort of carousel, using instead of little horses... gingermen cookies!

This cake is whimsical, fun, sweet. This is my homage to Christmas!

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1 cup dark cocoa powder plus more for dusting

¾ cup hot strong coffee

1 cup milk, room temperature

¾ cups cake flour (not self-rising)

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

2 ½ cups sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, room temperature

 

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Place rack in middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment, and dust with cocoa powder; tap out excess. Sift cocoa; whisk in boiling coffee and milk. Let cool. Sift together cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Using a rubber spatula, mix the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition.   Pour in the cooled cocoa mixture. Mix until fully incorporated. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pans (about 4 cups in each pan). Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center. Remove the cakes from the oven, and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes on a cooling rack. Carefully run a small offset spatula around the edge of the cakes to loosen them from the pan. Remove cakes from pans, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely, about 1 hour. To assemble, using a serrated knife, level the top surface of each cake layer. Spread with 3/4 cup of frosting. Top with the remaining layer, bottom side up. Cover the outside of cake with the remaining frosting.  

 

Ultimate Chocolate frosting

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3 ½ cups confectioners' sugar

1 cup dark cocoa powder

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup milk, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract

 

In a small bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder. Whip the butter until smooth and fluffy; stir in, gradually, sugar and cocoa. Flavor with the  butter, milk, and vanilla; stir until smooth and free of lumps.

 

Note: both the recipe for the cake and for the frosting are Martha Stewart's.

Family portrait

While I was decorating the cookies, without realizing, I made a whole family of "gingermen" ! Here they are:

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I will use them for a project I'm working on and it's not a gingerbread house!!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Everything is ready...

... The tortellini pasta for the consomme' have been made.

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The meat is ready to become a wonderful "Bollito" ( a traditional Italian recipe from Piedmont)

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I'm not sure how or if it will come out correctly, because I'm a girl from the South and this dish is the King of the Northern Italian tables. And... I've never cooked it before!

So, let's wait what will happen this evening...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sweet potato donuts

It's always fun for me going to the supermarket, although some people could find that pretty boring. I will always find some new or unknown ingredients to experiment with, such as  cranberries, Brussels sprouts, yams, green beans (since it's that time of the year). Usually, when you think about those ingredients, the first thing that jump at your mind is Thanksgiving or Christmas menu. But, with a little twist to a traditional recipe, something good and new could come up.

So I've decided "to play around" a family donut's recipe that I used to eat as a child, using yams instead of regular potatoes and adding a touch of cranberry sauce to fill the inside. They smell and taste as Christmas, believe me!!!!

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1 tbsp. yeast

1/2 c. lukewarm milk

2 large mashed yams

2 tablespoons sugar

pinch salt

2 eggs, well beaten

3 tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 cups flour, plus more if needed

1 teaspoon lemon extract or lemon zest

 

To finish: granulated sugar and cinnamon mixed together.

 

Mix all ingredients. Knead and let rise to double in size. Then roll out and cut circles.

In half of the circle make a hole in the middle (and fry it, you'll get the fried donut's holes!!!)

The remaining dough, make other circle and in half put some cranberry sauce in the center and cover with another circle of dough. Let rise again and deep-fry in corn oil.

Roll the hot donuts into the sugar and cinnamon mixture and serve them.

 

Pomegranate sangria

I've made this wonderful sangria for the Christmas  party I've talked before. After I saw it in TV, made from chef Bobby Flay, I couldn't resist. and since my blogger friend are organizing a virtual Christmas luncheon, inviting everybody to participate, bringing in something, I thought that this one could be perfect for an appetizer, to be served with all the wonderful food my blogger friend have already prepared and also for a midnight toast.

And careful everybody: you won't realize immediately, but it hit your head as you couldn't believe!!!!

Salute to you'll!!!!

 pomegranate sangria (3)

 

 

1 bottle fruity red wine (I've used Rjoia 2004, Spain)
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup Triple Sec
1/4 cup simple syrup (equal amounts sugar and water, heated until sugar dissolves, cooled)
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1 large orange, halved and thinly sliced
1 green apple, cored, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup red grapes, sliced in 1/2

 

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours before serving. Serve over ice.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A really special thank you!

Few day ago it has been my birthday. I got some beautiful present (it always nice receiving them!!!), but I got some more!

This year I didn't feel to celebrate, that's way I didn't bake any cake. And still I got a beautiful cake on Saturday morning (my birthday day): my good neighbor and friend Lisa, who openly declare her non-passion for cooking and who's idea for dinner is a pbj sandwich, bake me a wonderful chocolate cake with chocolate frosting... to die for. And even though she used the cake mix She didn't even use the cake box (it was a huge misunderstanding from my part!!!!) and  that cake for me is the best ever. She really touched my heart doing that, because I understand how much effort she put into it.

Thank you Lisa so much!!!!

 

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas party menu

Few days ago we celebrated the Christmas party of my husband's office at our house. It was so much fun!!! And that's because I had to caterer the party too! And that was the fun for me: you know, planning the food, the decoration, setting the mood in the room, thinking of a tablescape...There've been few days of pure panick at the beginning of the week, because we decided to paint the house during the previous week-end and we didn't finish quite in time. But thanks to my wonderful husband - that worked late after work - the house was homey, warm and ready to have our guests.The idea behind this menu is an Italian wedding reception,with an international touch. Here the menu and some pictures!


Menu

- Falafel in mini pita bread with tahini sauce
- Antipasto platter
- Roast beeef crostini with watercress and horseradish cream
- Goat cheese stuffed dates
- Asparagus and hazelnut Mousse Tartlets- Salmon mousse tartlets
- Chili empanadas
- Zucchini rolls
- Spinach and artichoke dip
- Artichoke and port wine cheddar dip
- Brie en croute with orange jelly and hazelnut
-Canap├ęs (salmon – egg and candied tomatoes)
- Blue cheese Stuffed mushrooms

Dessert IMG_0244
Baba au rhum and cranberry cream tart
Chocolate fountain with strawberries, divinities, dried fruits
Struffoli (fried cookies covered in honey)

Drink

pomegranate sangria
 
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