Chocolate Mint Bûche de Noël

Chocolate Mint Bûche de Noël

This contemporary version of Bûche de Noël is the perfect opportunity to make something extra festive for Christmas. Instead of a roulade and buttercream icing in the traditional French yule log, this modern take is composed of a silky mousse layered with crème brûlée and crispy chocolate praline.

I decided to set the entire mousse cake on chocolate biscuit, a thin sponge cake layer, because I thought it resembled terra firma. The chocolate mousse is also complemented with minty elements — the crème brûlée insert is infused with mint and the chocolate biscuit is brushed with a simple mint syrup.

The measurements in the recipe that follows are in metric weights. All of it. I thought of converting everything to volume and imperial measures like I usually do but take a peek at the recipe and I’m sure you’ll understand. If you don’t own one already, may I recommend this fine weighing scale?

All of the Bûche de Noël components are scaled for a 13-inch half pipe mold, which is about the same size as a roll of aluminum foil. It’s difficult to work with such small amounts, but at the very least, the waste is minimal (resulting in less mindless snacking).

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Angel Food Cake Recipe

Angel Food Cake Recipe

If you’ve ever had bad airline food, looked out from your window seat, and wished you could eat cloud instead, it would probably be a lot like having angel food cake. Light, airy, and sweet, a generous wedge of angel food is interesting enough on its own but even better served with fruits or chocolate.

Its springiness makes angel food poke-worthy (get your mind out of the gutter, please). As you press down on it with your finger, you can actually hear it sighing, as if to say “What the hell?” It puffs and heaves as it struggles back to shape when you let go. Playing around with angel food is probably one of the most interesting tactile experiences in the kitchen. As long as no one’s watching behind you.

Did I also mention that angel food is fat-free? It’s too bad that it isn’t also calorie-free, though — angel food is typically equal parts egg white and sugar by weight.

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Hot Chocolate with Caramel and Cinnamon

Pierre Herme's Caramel-Cinnamon Hot Chocolate Two

Pierre Hermé’s hot chocolate recipe calls for milk sweetened with cinnamon-infused caramel. A mug of spiced hot chocolate in the dead of winter sounds tough to resist, doesn’t it? I usually skip drinks unless there’s caffeine or booze involved, but this definitely counts as an exception.

Which is not to say that this hot chocolate drink can’t be spiked with alcohol. Monsieur Pierre recommends a splash of rum or orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier, so I think I’ll pass on the eggnog and go for something like this instead.

View Hot Chocolate with Caramel and Cinnamon - Pierre Hermé Recipe »

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Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Recipe

Anyone who hasn’t tried Haagen-Dazs’ dulce de leche ice cream will have a hard time guessing what flavor this is. Not quite caramel or butterscotch, this is one of those ice cream flavors that make people go, “Oh my gulay* this is so good. What flavor is this?”

Dulce de leche ice cream comes  in a low-key shade of light brown so it’s not the most exciting-looking frozen dessert, but one spoonful and finicky preferences won’t matter. This ice cream flavor is a certified crowd pleaser.

It’s also really easy to make because it uses an egg-free ice cream base. The pre-churn chilling does take a bit of time, but you’ll get the best flavor and consistency with an overnight rest in the fridge.

* Filipino version of OMG. Translates to “Oh my vegetable.” Doesn’t make sense to me either.

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Applesauce Spice Cake

Applesauce Spice Cake

When it’s so cold outside that a hot oven is no longer effective in raising the temperature, bake something with spices in it. Cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg give a sense of comfort and warmth in this recipe for spiced applesauce cake. Served with a hot mug of spiced whatever, preferably heavily spiked with alcohol, it makes winter a bit more tolerable.

I’ve given up on trying to get used to Chicago winters. Coming from a country where the mercury never dips below 60ºF*, cold weather is never agreeable to my tropical-minded self. When I first stepped off the plane (or the boat, if you’re trying to get fresh with me), the first thing I got wasn’t a hug from relatives I haven’t seen in years. The sudden switch from humid to freezing dry climates caused a gushing nosebleed instead. I thought I was going to drop dead.

I should’ve taken massive blood loss as a sign to move south, but in the meantime, I’ll keep baking stuff until the springtime cometh.

*unless you live on a mountaintop

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