Christmas Cranberry Chocolate Roulade
Alongside the Christmas pudding, this was the other dessert we served in the evening on Christmas day. Our family went out to a restaurant for lunch, where the food and atmosphere were just fantastic, and then we had a late dinner at home. Naturally nobody was very hungry but we all stuffed ourselves to explosion point anyway. In fact, coming home after lunch I was so full that even the idea of eating dinner in 4 hours filled me with dread, so I power-walked 65 laps of our loungeroom, trying in desperation to make some space in my stomach. For the record 65 laps of our loungeroom is 1 kilometre...yes, it's a big room. It was pretty funny to see the rest of family join in when they realised the value of what I was doing. It was particularly amusing to see my two grandmothers getting right into it, especially when they started to overtake me!
I knew this dessert was to come later in the evening, so I had even more of a reason to try and make soom room. I've been wanting to make one of these French Buche de Noel cakes since I was about 8 and my mum bought the Women's Weekly French Cooking Made Easy cookbook. Each year I say I'll do it, but this year I bought a British baking book and there was a Cranberry version of this recipe, and it looked really simple so I gave it a go. It is really easy to make; the chocolate sponge is very simple and behaves itself, and other than that you only have to whip some cream and melt some chocolate for a ganache. A child of 8 could just about pull this one off, and yet doesn't it look like I've spent a whole day in the kitchen sweating over my piece of patisserie? I was a little worried about decorating this, especially as I tried to get a bit creative and cut a slice off to create a "branch" coming off the "log". Unfortunately my roulade wasn't quite long enough to carry this effect off with aplomb and after spreading it with ganache it looked disturbingly like a cow pat on a plate. My uncle came to the rescue with the old trick of a fork dipped in water to create some bark-resembling ridges, and between us I don't think we did too badly. My brother even immediately recognised it as a tree branch and not a cow pat when he came in! ;-)
What I, and my family, loved about this was that it really wasn't overly sweet. The ganache is made from dark chocolate, the whipped cream doesn't contain any sugar, the cranberry sauce spread over the sponge is quite tart. It's only the sponge that has any sugar in it, and that's only 1/2 a cup, so it actually wasn't even a complete blow-out for my diabetic grandmother. We all have a fondness for anything containing whipped cream, so that was another selling point for us. Additionally, as it contains no flour of any sort, it is gluten-free.
Next time I think I'd add more cranberry sauce; I think that flavour could have been brought out quite a bit more. I think folding some fresh (aka defrosted) cranberries through the whipped cream would be a great idea to really bring out that tart Christmassy flavour.
I'm not sure if I'll have a chance to post again before I leave for 2 weeks holiday in Osaka, Japan. This week it snowed, which is a very rare occurance for December (first time in 20 years), which caused some disturbance to my packing plan. An emergency trip to Kathamandu on Christmas Eve was carried out for polar-fleece everythings, and we all know that shopping on Christmas Eve is not to be recommended if you want to retain your sanity!!! Tomorrow (err...today actually) I'm spending the day touring the wineries in the Yarra Valley with my family, which will not only be lots of fun, but a very long day (plus it's going to be 35C tomorrow - not great weather to spend most of the day in a car), and then when I return I'll finish the packing I started today and then grab a few hours sleep before heading to the airport at sparrow's fart Wednesday morning. I started packing today but it's pretty hard to get inspired carrying around armloads of thermal underwear and woolly jumpers when it's damn hot and sunny outside and the rest of the family are drinking champagne cocktails by the pool!
It looks like I'll be able to download my photos straight to my friends computer, and as he also runs his own foodblog, I'm sure he'll understand when I take photos of everything I eat and hijack his laptop for my own posts. Next post will be from freezing cold, food-obsessed Osaka! :-)
Read on for the Christmas roulade recipe:
Christmas Cranberry Chocolate Roulade
Cuts into 12-14 slices.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
300 ml / 1/2 pint thick cream
350g / 12 oz dark chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp brandy (optional, but recommnded I say!)
For the roulade:
5 large eggs, separated
3 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted, plus extra for dusting
125g / 4 oz icing sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
For the filling:
175g / 6oz cranberry sauce
1-2 tbsp brandy (optional, but go for it!)
450ml / 3/4 pint double cream, whipped to soft peaks.
1: Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Bring the cream to the boil over a medium heat. Remove from heat and add all of the chocolate, stirring until melted. Stir in the brandy if using and pour into a medium bowl. Cool and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
2: Lightly oil and line a 39x26 cm / 15.5x10.5 inch Swiss roll tin with non-stick baking paper. Using an electric whisk, beat the egg yolks until thick and creamy. Slowly beat in the cocoa powder and half the icing sugar and put aside. Whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar into soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining sguar until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg whites with a metal spoon or rubber spatula. Spread evenly into the tin.
3: Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove and invert to a large sheet of greaseproof paper, dusted with cocoa powder. Cut off the crisp edges of the cake then roll up. Leave on a wire rack until cold
4: For the filling, heat the cranberry sauce with the brandy until warm and spreadable. Unroll the cooled cake and spread with the cranberry sauce mixture. Allow to cool and set. Carefully spoon the whipped cream over the surface and spread to within 2.5cm/1in of the edges. Re-roll the cake. Transfer to a cake plate or tray.
5: Allow the chocolate ganache to soften slightly then beat until soft and of a spreadable consistency. Spread over the roulade and, using a fork, mark the roulade with ridges to resemble tree bark. Dust with icing sugar. Decorate with orange strips and/or dried cranberries.