Buche de Noel | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Buche de Noel

Buche de Noel | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I’ve been digging deep for that Christmas feeling. I’m counting the days until I get a break from work so I can go into full relaxation mode. We bought our Christmas Tree last week. I even made Geoff take me on a date to the Christmas market so I could eat a Yorkshire pudding wrap and drink hot chocolate with Bailey’s. We took the route home that has a walk past the most twinkling lights possible. I’ve been finding a few moments of holiday zen, and it’s delightful.

Of course, I still have a bunch of presents to buy, and the idea of wrapping them is close to sending me over the edge. Practical geometry was never my strong suit. Then there’s the Christmas menu to finalize. Geoff’s requested this turkey recipe, along with some other British Christmas classics. As for me, I’m more interested in what cocktail to serve. A poinsettia is always a good choice.

Buche de Noel | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

If you’re looking for a deceptively impressive dessert this Christmas, may I suggest you make this Buche de Noel? The first time I made this, I thought it would definitely be a disaster. I don’t have the patience or fine motor skills to make fancy cakes, and I had never tried to make a rolled cake before. It all came together surprisingly easy, and it was so chocolaty and tender, I couldn’t stop eating it. 

You don’t need to worry if your cake cracks a bit as you’re rolling it up because the fluffy chocolate frosting will cover up any problems. And you don’t need to be Van Gogh to make it look like a log, either. All you need is a toothpick and an unsteady hand. Squiggly lines are a bad artist’s best friend. A few fresh cranberries and a couple of snips off of a sprig of rosemary, and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed masterpiece.

Buche de Noel | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Maintain your holiday bliss and impress your family with a Buche de Noel this Christmas. It’s gonna be awesome.

Buche de Noel
Serves 8
A Buche de Noel is a great way to impress your family this Christmas without adding any stress to your life.
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Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 min
For the cake
  1. 6 eggs, separated
  2. 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
For the frosting
  1. 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (about 60%)
  2. 2 cups powdered sugar
  3. 8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  4. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  5. Pinch of salt
For the cake
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Give yourself plenty of paper to hang over the edge, and fold it up in the corners to give it a bit of structure.
  2. In a large, very clean mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whisk your egg whites until they're nice and foamy. With the mixer still running, add in 1/4 cup of your sugar and continue to whisk until your have stiff peaks.
  3. In another mixing bowl (I used my stand mixer for this part) whisk your egg yolks with your remaining 1/2 cup of sugar until the mixture is pale and thick. Ditch your electric mixer at this point.
  4. Add the vanilla to the egg yolk mixture, then sift over the cocoa powder. Fold this all together with a rubber spatula.
  5. Next, fold in your egg white in three batches. A few streaks aren't the end of the world. The egg white are all you have to leaven this cake, so don't overwork it.
  6. Pour your cake batter into your waiting jelly roll pan and gently spread it evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, the use the overhanging edges of your parchment paper to lift out the cake and allow it to cool completely.
For the frosting
  1. Melt your chocolate by breaking it up into pieces and microwaving it for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each go until it's completely melted and smooth. Should take about a minute. Allow this to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Add your powdered sugar to the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times to make sure you get rid of any lumps.
  3. Add the butter to the food processor and process until smooth. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate and process until smooth and incorporated.
To assemble
  1. Once your cake is completely cool, spread a layer of your frosting over the entire top of your cake.
  2. Use your parchment paper to help you roll your cake. You want the short end facing toward you as you roll away from you. Don't panic if you have a crack or two. It will all get covered up with the frosting.
  3. If you want to have a stump or two coming out of your log, slice the ends of your roll at a gentle angle. This will also give the ends of log a cleaner look. You can then use a bit of your frosting to stick this slices onto the side of your cake. Once they're covered in frosting, they'll look like stumps of branches. It's almost too easy.
  4. Don't be afraid to use all of your frosting to completely cover all parts of your cake. No need to make it smooth. The rougher it is, the more it will look like bark.
  5. To complete the look, us a toothpick or skewer to to make some wobbly, bark like lines down your cake. Make some rough concentric circles at each end to resemble tree rings.
  6. If you want to get extra artsy. add a few cranberries and some rosemary to make a few sprigs of holly. If you want it to snow on your log, sprinkle it with some powdered sugar.
Adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson
http://awesomeon20.com/
Mini Chocolate Cinnamon Croissants | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Mini Chocolate Cinnamon Croissants

Mini Chocolate Cinnamon Croissants | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I write my blog posts in the evening, which is probably a mistake. At about 7:00 pm, I hit a productivity wall that I often find insurmountable. It’s 7:40 right now, and I’m like words? What are those?

I’m also supposed to make a cake later so I can frost and decorate it in the morning and shoot it before going out to an early dinner. It’s an extremely safe bet that this cake will not get made tonight. I probably won’t even pick up the cookbook. The last dregs of my energy are going into this drivel right here. 

That being said, there’s a somewhat decent chance I’ll manage to drag myself down the stairs and around the corner for chips. I’m hungry.

Mini Chocolate Cinnamon Croissants | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

It just so happens I have a very lazy recipe for you today. Mini Chocolate Cinnamon Croissants are the perfect thing to offer any drop in holiday guests or offer up as a light breakfast for family or friends who might be staying over. Or you could just scarf them all yourself. That’s what I did.

These Mini Chocolate Cinnamon Croissants are super easy to make and you can easily keep all the ingredients on hand to have them fresh out of the oven whenever you need them. Unroll dough, sprinkle cinnamon sugar, snap a chocolate bar, roll up, sprinkle again, brush, bake. Easy peasy.

Mini Chocolate Cinnamon Croissants | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Let’s all be lazy together. Let’s eat Mini Chocolate Cinnamon Croissants while we do it. Productivity is overrated.

Mini Chocolate Cinnamon Croissants
Serves 8
Mini Chocolate Cinnamon Croissants are a delightful sweet treat you can bring together in a flash.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/6 cup sugar
  2. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  3. 1 sheet puff pastry
  4. 1 egg, beaten
  5. 8 pieces of dark chocolate (I just snapped small chunks off a bar of dark chocolate, but you could use chunks or chips, whatever you have)
  6. Pinch of sea salt flakes
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400F (200C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
  3. Unroll your sheet of puff pastry. Mine was wrapped in parchment in the package, so I just left it on that, but if yours doesn't come with, slide some parchment paper underneath. Use a pizza cutter to cut your pastry sheet in half.
  4. Brush one half of your puff pastry sheet with your beaten egg. Sprinkle most of your cinnamon sugar over your egg wash, holding a little bit back for sprinkling over the top at the end. Place the other half or your puff pastry on top of the cinnamon sugar side, and pinch the edges together to seal.
  5. Cut your new rectangle in half in both directions creating four rectangles, then cut each of these rectangles in half diagonally, creating 8 triangles. Place a chunk of chocolate at the wide end of each triangle, then roll it up toward the point. Tuck the edges under and give a light pinch to keep all the chocolate goodness inside. Place each mini croissant on your baking sheet. Give them room to grow.
  6. Brush each croissant with the remaining egg wash, sprinkle on the remaining cinnamon sugar, and add a light sprinkling of sea salt.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. These are best served warm but are still pretty awesome the next day if kept in an air tight container.
Adapted from Homemade Decadence by Joy the Baker
http://awesomeon20.com/
Awesome in November
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Buche de Noel | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
Awesome in November

Awesome in November

Awesome in November

Insert the usual astonishment here. How are we at the end of November already? Time is just so weird.

November was a big month. We made a trip to Washington state for my great grandmother’s 100th birthday party. I also got to take my baby to tour a university in the area. We had a blast together, but I don’t know how we got this old. We also ate a ton of greasy American food that we can’t get in Scotland. It was very indulgent. 

On the plane, I finally got a chance to watch The Big Sick. It was absolutely perfect. Such a simple and simultaneously unusual story that was deeply affecting. Luckily we were on a relatively empty flight, so no one was sitting next to me as I laughed, cried, and gasped in astonishment. If you haven’t seen this yet, you absolutely must. It’s genius.

The internet is absolutely jam packed with delicious holiday food right now. I’m hoping to try these Easy Flaky Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls because they look like a buttery bread pillow, and I want to eat ten million of them.

I’m feeling this Cheesy Herb Baked Mashed Potato Gratin because there should be a potato recipe for every day. 

This Pumpkin Buttercream Swiss Roll would be a real show stopper on your holiday table. I think we all need a bit of that in our lives right now.

Peanut Butter Fudge from Awesome on 20

You’re in full on holiday mode. Your favorite recipes this month were Peanut Butter Fudge, Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels, and Classic Peanut Butter Cookies. Sounds like a fantastic party. 

December is obviously the best month of the year. Let’s make it extra awesome.

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