Imagine my pleasant surprise when I read this introduction to this month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge:
“This month’s challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.”
Why the pleasant surprise? For one, I had been hoping to make a Yule Log this holiday season and this DB mandate was just the kick in the butt I needed to make it happen. Two, a French Yule Log differs from its genoise and buttercream counterpart in that it is a frozen confection – perfect for a holiday treat on Maui.
Perusing the 18 page document that contained the recipe did, admittedly, give me pause. A French Yule Log contains no fewer that six elements, which include a ganache, a mousse, and a – gulp – crème brulee. Good grief – yet another recipe that would attempt to bully me around my kitchen with its decidedly un-vegan swagger! This dessert is layer upon layer of eggs, butter, heavy cream, and gelatin. It was going to take one heck of a makeover to make this girl the belle of the vegan ball.
This recipe involved the six required elements all layered together into one frozen cake like dessert. This month’s hosts, though strict in their requirement that all six elements be included, left a lot of room for freedom in flavor choices. I decide to give my Yule Log a Maui flavor with coconut and macadamia nuts. Upon doing this recipe again, I may try to flavor the custard with coconut milk instead of vanilla, and I might try to incorporate some fruit flavors into it – mango, papaya, banana, guava, or lychee would be especially nice and would compliment the coconut, macadamia, and chocolate already present in the log.
For past DB challenges I have veganized the recipe straight from the original; this time, however, I decided to call upon several resources to assist in the makeover: my favorite vegan confections cookbook (Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World) and my trusty kitchen companion, Google. Element by element, here are the choices I made:
Element #1 –Dacquoise: I utilized the recipe as was written, only subbing in Ener-G “eggs” along with some baking powder and apple cider vinegar (to give the cake a wee bit of lift) for the three eggs that were called for.
Element #2 – Dark Chocolate Mousse: I considered subbing in a vegan chocolate mousse, but instead I utilized a vanilla custard recipe that I used in these tarts back in February. I really love the flavor of this custard and I wanted something to lighten up the other chocolate elements included in the Log.
Element #3 – Creme Brulee Insert: My jaw dropped at this one. I was a bit stumped as to how to create a vegan crème brulee, so I took to Google and a search for “vegan crème brulee” returned with this recipe. Vegan Visitor is a blog that I frequently read so I was more than happy to give it a go (I was really happy that I did – I look forward to making this recipe again on its own and “brulee-ing” it the next time.).
Element #4 – Praline Crisp Insert: This involved making praline paste. I used the praline paste recipe from our July DB challenge, only this time I replaced the hazelnuts with macadamia nuts in order to create a more “Maui” flavor.
Element #5 – Ganache Insert: I used the chocolate ganache recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.
Element #6 – Dacquoise: I again utilized the creative expertise of Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero and used the chocolate buttercream frosting recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.
This recipe involved numerous steps, produced a lot of dirty dishes, and required two days to make. That said, it was all well worth it. This dessert is pretty darn impressive – and, I’ll let you in on a secret: unless you decide to tell them, no one will know that it’s vegan. I promise you. Serve it to your most discerning “vegans must only eat nuts and berries” loved ones and bask in their stunned expressions when, after gobbling up a slice, you share the secret with them.
Why the stunned expressions? This dessert is seriously decadent. It really is numerous desserts all wrapped up into one chocolate frosted confection, desserts which, on their own, are all decadent and rich: custard (mousse), crème brulee, praline, ganache, etc. Leave it to the French to decide to pile it all onto one plate in one very pretty package! (Gotta love the French!) As you really only need a tiny sliver to enjoy it(I recommend accompanying it with a nice cup of coffee or tea), you can serve a crowd with just one Yule Log. This is definitely not a “Wednesday-after-work” sort of dessert – this is a special occasion dessert. I highly recommend that you bookmark this dessert and trot it out at your next special occasion to entertain a crowd.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go paddleboard myself around the ocean to burn off the calories consumed in the making of this dessert!
French Yule Log
Element #1: Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)
½ cup + 1 tbsp almond meal
2/3 cup flaked coconut
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Ener-G “Eggs”
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp granulated sugar
1. Finely mix the almond meal, coconut, and the confectioner’s sugar. Sift the flour into the mix.
2. Beat in the “eggs”, baking powder, and vinegar, then mix in the sugar until combined.
3. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it. Spread the batter onto the parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc…) and to a height of 1/3 inches.
4. Bake at 350°F for 12-15 minutes, until golden.
5. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.
Element #2: Vanilla Custard (in place of Dark Chocolate Mousse)
Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert
I used the Chocolate Ganache recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.
Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it.
Element #4 Praline Crisp Insert
3.5 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 2/3 tbsp Earth Balance
2 tbsp macadamia nut praline paste (recipe can be found in this post)
1 cup Rice Krispies
1. Melt the chocolate and EB in a double boiler.
2. Add the praline and the Rice Krispies. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.
Element #5: Crème Brulee Insert
Element #6: Chocolate Icing
I used the Fluffy Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.
1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/3 cup flaked coconut
Toast in a dry skillet over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until golden. Keep a close eye – this can go from toasted to burnt very quickly.
The order of elements is:
3. Creme Brulee Insert
5. Praline/Crisp Insert
7. Ganache Insert
1. Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there.
2. Spread one third of the Custard component on the Dacquoise.
3. Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the Custard. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the Custard.
4. Spread second third of the Custard component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5. Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by Custard. Lay it on top of the Custard you just spread into the mold.
6. Spread the last third of the Custard component on top of the Praline Insert.
7. Gently spread the Ganache Insert onto the Custard leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
8. Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
9. Freeze until the next day.
The Next Day:
10. Unmold the log and set on plate.
11. Cover the cake with the frosting. Gently press the toasted coconut and macadamia nuts onto the tops and sides. Return to the freezer.
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than 1⁄2 hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.
Run a sharp knife under hot water, wipe off the water, and use to make slicing the log easier.