A traditional French Christmas lunch finishes with a Bûche de Noël and is usually made with sponge cake and mousse. I like to prepare this stunning dessert the Provencal way, using a nougat glace (nougat ice-cream) as it’s perfect for a hot Australian summer.
- 80 g caster sugar, plus 30 g extra
- 120 g hazelnuts, roasted and skins removed
- 300 ml pouring cream
- 3 egg whites
- 60 g honey
- 30 g liquid glucose
- a pinch of cream of tartar
- 50 g glacé orange, finely chopped
- 50 g glacé pear, finely chopped
- 8 glacé cherries (red and/or green), finely chopped
- macarons, fresh raspberries, red currants and icing sugar, to serve
- a few small Christmas cake decorations, (optional)
- 300 g raspberries, fresh or frozen
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) freshly squeezed orange juice
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Freezing time overnight
Line a tray with baking paper. Lightly grease a 7.5 cm x 28 cm loaf tin, then line the base and sides with plastic wrap leaving the sides overhanging.
Place 2 tablespoons of water and 80 g caster sugar in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer, without stirring and cook until caramelised, tilting the pan occasionally to make sure it browns evenly. Add the hazelnuts, stir to combine, then spread over the lined tray. When cool, set aside one quarter of the whole caramelised hazelnuts for decorating and place the remainder on a chopping board and coarsely crush with a rolling pin, then set aside.
Place the cream in a large bowl and use a hand-held whisk to beat until firm peaks form but be careful not to overbeat. Refrigerate until needed.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. You don’t need to start whisking but you do need to be ready to start as soon as the syrup reaches temperature. Place the honey, glucose and the extra 30 g caster sugar in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and simmer until the syrup reaches 100°C on a sugar thermometer - this will only take a minute or two so you need to monitor the temperature closely. As soon as the syrup reaches temperature, start whisking the egg whites and the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. When the syrup reaches 120°C, very slowly pour it over the beaten egg whites with the motor still running and continue beating on low speed for 5-6 minutes or until the meringue is cold. Remove from the mixer, then carefully fold in the crushed hazelnut praline and chopped glacé fruits followed by the whipped cream. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, tap on the bench lightly to expel any air pockets, smooth the top, then cover and freeze overnight.
Meanwhile, to make the raspberry sauce, place all the ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve, pushing down on the seeds to extract as much sauce as possible. If necessary, add a little extra lemon juice or sugar - remember the Bûche de Noël is pretty sweet so you don’t want the sauce overly sweet.
Just before serving, carefully unmould the Bûche de Noël onto a flat serving plate. Decorate the sides with macarons and decorate the top with the reserved caramelised hazelnuts, fresh berries and Christmas cake decorations. Dust with icing sugar and serve with the raspberry sauce.
Destination Flavour Christmas airs December 16, 4:30pm on SBS.