By Zoë François
Zoë’s Buche de Noel
Cocoa Sponge Cake
- 3/4 cup (90g) cake flour
- 1/4 cup (25g) dutch-processed cocoa
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder
- 5 large eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (175g) granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting towel
Sour Cherry Chocolate Chip Ricotta Filling
- 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 1/4 cups frozen sour cherries, thawed and drained
- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Swiss Meringue & Espresso Buttercream
- 1 cup egg whites (from about 8 eggs), at room temperature
- 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 pounds (6 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 2-tablespoon sized pieces, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
For Decorating and Finishing:
- Chocolate ganache for mushrooms
- Gold edible luster dust (optional)
- Silver, gold, and white dragees and/or large nonpareils (optional)
- Fresh cherries, brushed with pasteurized egg whites and dusted with sugar (optional)
To make the Cocoa Sponge Cake:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 18×13-inch sheet tray with greased parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder and salt.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks with half of the sugar and vanilla on high speed for 5 minutes or until light, fluffy, and tripled in volume. Transfer yolk mixture to a large bowl and then clean the mixing bowl and whisk attachment well.
Whip the egg whites on high speed until foamy, turn speed to medium low and slowly add the remaining sugar. Turn speed to high and whip until the whites are stiff peaks. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the yolks 1/3 at a time. Sift the flour mixture over the egg foam and gently fold together.
Spread batter evenly onto prepared pan. Bake about 12 minutes or until cake is set and springs back when touched.
While the cake is baking lay a clean kitchen towel on a work surface and generously dust with confectioners’ sugar. Use a small knife to loosen edges of the cake. Quickly invert hot cake onto towel. Peel off parchment paper and roll hot cake and towel into a log starting at a short end. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the Sour Cherry Filling:
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, ricotta and powdered sugar until stiff, smooth peaks form. Fold in the chocolate chips and sour cherries. After the cake is completely cool, carefully unroll and spread the filling evenly over the unrolled cake. Re-roll the filled cake tightly, wrap with plastic and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day ahead.
For Meringue Mushrooms & Swiss Buttercream:
In a large heatproof bowl whisk together egg whites and sugar. Mixture will be thick and grainy. Place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, being careful that bowl doesn’t touch water. Whisk for 10 minutes or until 160 degrees F, sugar is completely dissolved, and mixture is smooth.
Remove bowl from saucepan. Beat mixture with a mixer on medium-high 8 to 12 minutes or until light, fluffy, glossy, and stiff peaks form. To pipe the mushrooms, transfer 1/2 cup meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip.
Preheat oven to 175 degrees F.
To create the mushroom caps, pipe half the meringue in the pastry bag into 3/4- to 1-inch mounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, you should have about 20 mounds. Pipe remaining meringue into squat stems that come to a point, you should have about 20 stems. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven. Leave the door closed and let meringues stand in cooling oven for 1 hour. Meringues can be made 1 day ahead. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Using a paring knife or wooden skewer, poke a small hole into center of flat side of mounds. Dip stem tips in chocolate ganache, then insert into holes in mounds to create mushrooms. If desired, paint tops of mushrooms with gold luster dust.
To finish the buttercream: To the remaining meringue in the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat in butter 2 tablespoons at a time on medium speed until fully incorporated, about 10 minutes. After all the butter has been added, beat 1 minute more or until buttercream is creamy and glossy. In a small bowl, dissolve the espresso powder in the vanilla, mixing to combine. Beat in the vanilla mixture and a pinch of salt.
Take the chilled, filled cake out of the refrigerator. Cut off a few inches from the end of the roll at an angle to make a branch. Transfer the long portion (the log) to a serving platter. Frost one end of branch with enough buttercream that it sticks to log; gently press branch onto the top of log. Frost entire cake, dragging a spatula or fork to create the bark texture. Decorate with dragees, meringue mushrooms, sugared cherries and luster dust, if using.
Photograph courtesy of Magnolia Network.