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A FRESH Point of View: Buche de Noel

Yes, I know you probably have just barely polished off the Thanksgiving leftovers, but here in the FRESH pastry department, we’re already turning to thoughts of Christmas.

I have a special love for all things French when it comes to desserts and pastry, as you may have noticed. And of all the wonderful French culinary traditions connected to Christmas, one of my favorite is the Buche de Noel – translated from the French as “Christmas log” or “Yule log,” and a holiday tradition in France and French-speaking countries for more than a century.

If you’ve seen one, you understand why it has that name. Inspired by the Yule logs that were burned in  hearths in centuries past, a Buche de Noel is a confection of thin genoise (cake) and decadent fillings, rolled or layered to resemble a real log. It’s then frosted, usually with chocolate buttercream, scored to look even more like a log, and decorated with holly leaves, made of candy, frosting or marzipan. Pastry chefs often add their own touches – candy canes, mushrooms made of meringue, or marzipan holly berries or other decorations.  Sometimes they dust it with powdered sugar or sugar crystals, to represent snow.

Not to be outdone here at FRESH, we will be making three flavors of Buche de Noel for the holiday season. These make a great centerpiece for a holiday dessert buffet, or a special dessert for a winter dinner party:

Trianon: Chocolate genoise, filled with white chocolate mousse, milk chocolate mousse and dark chocolate mousse.

Opera: The same moist chocolate cake, filled with white chocolate mousse and brandied cherries.

Truffle: This time, the chocolate cake is accented with creamy milk chocolate ganache and dark chocolate ganache.