I've always wanted to make a Bouche de Noel. So, this year, I decided to make one for my Christmas dinner dessert. I found several recipes on Martha Stewart's site and choose this one because I love orange and chocolate together. I'd never made a jelly roll before; but I remembered as a child seeing my Mom make them, so I wasn't daunted. The whole thing took time and patience, but it wasn't hard.
I'll take you through the steps; if you'd like the recipe, you can either look up Martha's site or email me.
- .Step one was making the cake itself [pics 1 & 2]: 6 eggs separated, sugar added, folding of stiff egg whites into yolks, adding of ground nuts (I used pecans instead of walnuts), and spreading in a parchment lined, greased and floured cookie pan (with sides, of course). Once that was baked, it was inverted onto an icing sugar dusted tea towel, then rolled up with the towel. And that wasn't difficult!.
- Step 2 - the filling: Beat cream cheese, marscarpone (I used creamy ricotta), sugar, Grand Marnier & grated orange rind (pic 3); fold into beaten whipped cream. Unroll cake, spread most of filling (pic 5), re-roll and spread remainder of filling over the top.
- Step 3 - the chocolate bark: melt semi-sweet chocolate & spread in a parchment lined cookie sheet (pic 4) until firm but still pliable. Tear into strips about 1.5" long and layer on top of cake to resemble tree bark..
Here's the finished product.
Looks pretty impressive, huh! And it was pretty darned good! But we only need to remember Martha's tainted past to know that looks can be deceiving.
Despite Martha's recent climb back up the ladder of success, we really should remember not to take full "stock" in anything she says as it seems to me (especially after trying this recipe) that she continues to only divulge half-truths! And regardless of my still being on the bottom rung of said ladder, allow me to set both you and Martha straight on how to improve this recipe..
#1 - The nuts should have been ground finely as opposed to coarse!
#2 - The filling could have used less orange zest - there was a hint of bitterness in there. (Perhaps Martha hasn't fully dealt with anger over past issues?)
#3 The whipped cream should have been whipped to high and not soft peaks.
#4 - The chocolate bark ... Man oh man! The chocolate bark! This was not a good thing! You see, after peeling about half a dozen pieces of bark off the parchment paper and placing them on the cake, any others I tried peeling off would begin to melt onto my fingers. (And because of health, hygiene and the fact that this was my Xmas dinner dessert, it wouldn't have been right to go with my gut instinct to just lick my fingers in between.) Another flaw in the chocolate bark was that the pieces were too thick; less chocolate could melted and spread in the cookie sheet so the bark was thinner. (Or perhaps bitter-sweet chocolate could have been used (as this melts quite thin and runny), poured over the top of the cake and then lines made with a fork to resemble tree bark.)
Nevertheless, I persevered and followed Martha's instructions on creating bark. I did, however, dust the whole thing with icing sugar afterwards in order to cover my fingerprints which were imprinted on the bark because of the melting. .
I chilled my lovely Bouche (doesn't that sound naughty ... and somewhat painful). And after a stellar Christmas turkey dinner avec all the trimmings, I took it out of the refrigerator and presented this labour of love/work of art to my dinner guests amidst oohhs, ahhs and thundering applause. (Ok! Perhaps no one actually applauded; perhaps that part was all in my head.) Then ................... I tried to cut my pretty Bouche de Noel! .
But my bark was worse than my knife!.
The bark made it impossible to slice off neat portions. I found myself more or less sawing the slices off -- slices which were at least 1.5" wide because of the suggested size of the bark. (Kind of piggy-sized slices, what? after such a huge Xmas dinner. It's fine for Martha! She has a personal trainer!) Also, it seemed like I was sort-of sawing in several directions at the same time because of the staggered effect of the chocolate bark pieces! I almost needed someone on the other side of the Bouche to help guide me through the maze of bark! And as I sawed these trucker-sized portions of Bouche de Noel, the lovely filling kept oozing out! .
Dessert + Ooze = Words not usually associated with each other! (Thank goodness!).
They say that presentation is important in a meal. Well, it's a good thing my guests were family! But all in all, the taste helped enormously in overcoming the rather wide, unattractive, mashed pieces of Bouche! My guests were appreciative. .
Would I make this recipe again? Probably not.
I only give this recipe 5 unattractive
Martha ex-con ponchos out of 10!
But I'll definately try another Bouche de Noel and/or jellyroll sometime.
That part was fun!