I am somewhat late with this post because December was such a busy month that I hardly had time to sit down and figure out exactly what to blog about this month. With all the Christmas shopping, gift hampers, last-minute gift hunting for those who were not on my original guest list, it was quite a semi-marathon to get everything ready in time. In spite of all, I really hope you had a wonderful time this Christmas with your family and friends around you. I could not help being on duty on Christmas eve but the festive mood was strong even on our hospital premises. Our team of doctors and interns managed to cook up a jolly good Christmas dinner with Creamy Chicken in Mushroom Sauce, Potato & Chayote Gratin and my own contribution, a coffee flavored Bûche de Noël with chocolate dipped strawberries. The bûche fortunately turned out well, overcoming my fear of baking a totally foreign kitchen.

My enthusiasm to get back home and rip open my Christmas gifts, however, was unparalleled to none. The trip back home was a painfully long one but when I got there, I was rewarded by a beautifully wrapped book: Le Larousse du Chocolat by Pierre Herme and a huge box of Lanvin assorted chocolates: Noël à Paris. Since I was not going to work today, it was sheer pleasure for me to bake this Bûche de Noël au Chocolat et à l’Orange from my new cookbook. I did get a bit impatient over the long chilling time towards the end but found nothing to complain about when I tasted the brilliant combination of rich dark chocolate and candied orange peel with a faint whiff of fresh vanilla. With so many new chocolate flavored possibilities at hand, I cannot wait to start on another recipe from this absolutely gorgeous book which is, indeed, a bible for chocolate connoisseurs.

BUCHE DE NOEL AU CHOCOLAT ET A L’ORANGE

Ingredients:

For the Chocolate Sponge

4 eggs, separated

100g granulated sugar

75g all purpose flour

25g cocoa powder

For the Orange Syrup

125ml fresh orange juice

75g granulated sugar

For the Chocolate Filling

200ml whipping cream

200g dark chocolate [70%]

60g candied orange peel

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 220oC. Prepare the sponge by beating egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixer.

  • Beat for about 5-7 minutes until it is pale and frothy. Sift flour and cocoa powder into egg mixture.

  • Whip egg whites until they form soft peaks. Carefully fold whipped whites into chocolate mixture.

  • Spread batter over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake it for about 8-10 minutes.

  • Remove from oven and lift off parchment paper. Transfer to cooling rack, cover with a dish towel.

  • Prepare syrup by bringing orange juice and sugar to boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat.

  • Set aside to cool. Next, prepare the filling. Bring 4 tablespoons of cream to the boil in a small pan.

  • Chop chocolate coarsely and add to hot cream. Stir well until melted. Whip the remaining cream.

  • Carefully fold the cooled melted chocolate into the whipped cream and combine till homogenous.

  • Place chocolate sponge on a sheet of cling film or wax paper and brush with cooled orange syrup.

  • Spread half of the chocolate cream over the sponge and sprinkle the candied orange peel on top.

  • Roll up sponge tightly and wrap it in the cling film or wax paper. Chill sponge for at least 2 hours.

  • Remove from fridge and unwrap the cling film or paper. Spread with remaining chocolate cream.

  • Using a fork, create parallel lines across the chocolate surface that it resembles the bark of a tree.

  • Decorate with more candied orange peel. Chill for another 2 hours before serving. 6 to 8 servings.