It’s official. I have finally decided what I will make for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day desserts. Making up my mind is not a simple task. There are so many choices. Since it is Christmas I want to make sure they are worthy of the occasion. For weeks I go back and forth muttering several options to myself. It drives my poor husband crazy. On Monday I will tell him we are having one thing and Wednesday I say something else. He will say “But what about the …. you were so excited about two days ago?” Once he has heard me say the same dessert several days in a row then he figures that is what he will get to have.
I always choose classic desserts. It’s a traditional holiday so I like to go with something time-honored. In past years I have served Crepes Suzette, croquembouche, tiramisu, passion fruit soufflés, Baked Alaska and buche de noel. This year I have decided to make a frozen bouche de noel with chocolate cake and brown sugar ice cream. I will cover it in meringue and serve lots of chocolate and caramel sauces on the side. Come to think of it I better make two so there is enough for Santa. I leave a note telling him where to find leftover dessert. Funny thing it is always gone in the morning.
For Christmas Day we will have Gingerbread with warm apples and cider sabayon. While this is not a classic dessert by other people’s standards it has become part of our Christmas since I first developed the combination in 1991 when I worked at Stars Restaurant.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.
Frozen Bouche de Noel
If you want to stagger the production over a couple of days, make the cake and ice cream on the 22nd or 23rd. Spread the meringue on the 24th.
Serves 8 to 10
Brown Sugar Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons water
6 large eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
To make the ice cream: Combine the cream, milk, brown sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until almost simmering. Pour the mixture into a bowl and cool over an ice bath to room temperature. Refrigerate the custard for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze until firm but still spreadable, about 2 hours, depending on your freezer.
While the ice cream is freezing, make the roulade: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 11-inch-by-17-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate and water together in a double boiler over hot water. Stir until smooth.
Whip the egg yolks on high speed until light in color, 2 to 3 minutes with a stand mixer, 3 to 4 minutes with a hand mixer. Reduce to medium speed and add 1/3 cup of the sugar. Increase speed to high and continue to whip until thick and ribbony. On low speed or by hand, stir in the 1/4 cup of the cocoa powder and the salt. Stir in the melted chocolate.
In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy and begin to increase in volume. Gradually whip in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a steady stream. Whip until satiny, stiff peaks form. In two additions, fold the whites carefully into the chocolate mixture. Gently and evenly spread the mixture in the prepared pan.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when pressed with your fingertip and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, lay a clean thin cotton dish towel on the work surface with a short end toward you. Dust an area of the towel the size of the cake pan with the remaining 2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Remove the cake from the oven and run a small knife around the inside edges of the pan. Place one of the long ends of the cake pan on the right side of the towel and invert the pan and the cake on top of the towel so it falls at the end of the towel closest to you and on top of the cocoaed area. Carefully remove the pan and then the parchment paper. If the cake is not sitting at the end of the towel, fold the towel under itself so it is. From the end closest to you, carefully roll the cake and the towel up together like a jelly roll. Let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
To assemble the roulade: If necessary, soften the brown sugar ice cream while the cake is cooling. It should be firm but spreadable. Carefully unroll the cake. (If it splits anywhere, carefully push the broken pieces together.) Gently spread the ice cream over the cake with a thin metal spatula, leaving a 1/4-inch border on all sides. Reroll the cake without the towel. Place on a large platter or baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze until firm, about 3 hours, depending on your freezer. Cover with meringue (see recipe below). If desired torch just before serving.
1/2 cup egg whites (about 4)
1 cup sugar
In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar until combined. Put the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly until the egg whites are very warm. Remove the whites from the hot water and whip with an electric mixer on medium-high speed with a stand mixer, or high speed with a handheld mixer, until stiff, glossy peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Remove the ice cream log from the freezer. Using a small spatula, spread the meringue about 3/4 inch thick over the cake completely covering it. This can be done several hours in advance. Do not cover. Keep frozen until ready to serve.
Just before serving, using a butane torch, constantly move the flame over the meringue about 1 inch from the surface of the meringue until lightly browned. Or briefly put underneath a preheated broiler.
Gingerbread with Apples and Cider Sabayon
The gingerbread can be made a couple days in advance. Store at room temperature. The apples two days ahead and the sabayon one. Keep both of these refrigerated.
Yield: 9 by 13 inch pan
1 cup molasses
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan.
Mix molasses, boiling water and baking soda together in a large bowl. Cool to room temperature.
With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light. Mix in the egg.
Sift together the ginger, cinnamon, flour and baking powder. Add the salt
In three additions, alternately add dry ingredients and the molasses mixture to the butter mixture. Mix thoroughly after each addition to make sure there are no lumps.
Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool before cutting.
7 medium apples (Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Braeburn)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons (Approximately) apple juice or water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt
Peel, core and slice the apples 3/16 inch thick. Cook the apples with the remaining ingredients until the apples are soft but still hold their shape. If the liquid evaporates before the apples are cooked, add more apple juice.
8 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch kosher salt
3/4 cup sparkling apple cider, hard cider or 1/4 cup Calvados and 1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
To make the sabayon: Fill a medium bowl two-thirds with ice and water to make an ice bath. Fill a medium pot one-third full of water and bring it to a low boil. In a stainless steel bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and sparkling apple juice until smooth. Place the bowl over the pot of water and cook, whisking constantly, until thick, about 2 minutes. Place the bowl in the ice bath. Cool, whisking occasionally until at least room temperature. Remove the bowl and discard the ice bath.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Fold the cream into the apple mixture.
Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Serve the gingerbread with the apples (warm or room temperature) and the apple sabayon.