Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bûche de Noël Rectangulaire

Now is the time to plan for a show stopper Christmas dinner dessert.   This chocolate lovers' cake is simple and can be made in stages several days ahead.  Assemble and decorate with the help of guests and other elves on the big day.

It starts with a very moist chocolate cake baked in two 8 inch X 8 inch brownie pans.  Each cake is split in two to make four  8 inch X 4 inch layers.  A generous filling of Double Chocolate Nutella Frosting divides these layers before the whole cake is enrobed in a dark chocolate ganache.  Red and green nonpareils are not only decorative; they guide the knife for perfect loaf slices.  Beware- this is a very rich cake.  It serves 8-10 generously and even half a slice will top off the night.

Here's how to pull it together over several days:
First the cake layers.  You can bake them a day ahead or several days ahead and freeze layers individually.  Layers defrost quickly and you can even frost before they are fully defrosted. 

You can also make the Double Chocolate Nutella Frosting ahead of time and refrigerate it until ready to frost.  Let the frosting sit at room temperature about 15-20 minutes to soften. 

If your kitchen is not too busy, others can pitch in at the Chocolate Ganache and decorating stage.  Try to wait at least an hour for the ganache to fully set before slicing and serving the cake.  It will still knock your socks if you cannot wait.  Or, the cake can be finished a day ahead and refrigerated overnight. 

We updated a classic ch0colate cake recipe as our base-- Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake.  Use there's or try ours with buttermilk.  (When using buttermilk baking soda takes over for baking powder.)

Bûche Dee Noël Rectangulaire 

Serves 8-10

Updated Chocolate Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup boiling water

  1. Preheat oven to 300˚F.
  2. Use 2 8” X 8” brownie pans to make a loaf cake (or four 8 inch cake pans) lined with parchment paper in the bottom and greased lightly on  the sides.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Use a whisk to mix everything together well. 
  4. In a smaller bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Add boiling water to batter. Mix well.
  6. Pour batter into square brownie pan or four 8 inch cakes pans and bake at 300 degrees for about 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs. 
  7. Remove cakes from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then carefully invert and cool on cooling racks.  Peel away parchment paper once on the cooling racks.  Do not frost cake until it is completely cool.
  8. Slice each cooled cake in half to create 4 layers. 

Double Chocolate Nutella Frosting
Make the Double Chocolate Nutella Frosting while the cake cools.  

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (e.g Nutella)
2 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder

1 t vanilla
1/3 cup sour cream
¼ cup  milk or cream

  1. Combine softened butter, shortening and chocolate-hazelnut spread.  You can do this by hand or use a mixer on lowest setting.  
  2. Sift powdered sugar and cocoa together.  Add to chocolate-hazelnut mixture, stirring well to combine.  
  3. Add in vanilla and sour cream.  If mixture is a it thick, you can add milk or cream to create a spreadable consistency.  
  4. To frost the cake, place the first (cooled) cake layer on a rectangular serving platter and tuck strips of wax paper around the edges to protect the plate.  (Pull away the wax paper when finished to reveal a clean line between cake and platter.)
  5.  Roughly divide the frosting into fifths.  This will ensure you have enough left to frost the sides of the cake.
  6. Place a fifth of the frosting on the first layer and spread it out with a spatula or offset frosting knife.
  7. Lay the second layer on top and frost with another fifth of the frosting.  Continue until the fourth layer is frosted.
  8. Use the remaining frosting to cover the sides.  Do not worry about getting this perfect.  You will cover the cake with  ganache. 
 Dark Chocolate Ganache
This makes a very generous amount and is poured over the frosted cake.  Leftovers can be stirred into hot milk to make an awesome hot chocolate.

6 ounces good quality dark chocolate
8-10 ounces cream 
optional: 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla or hazelnut liqueur

  1. Chop chocolate into a fine dice.  If using chips, roughly chop.   Place chocolate in a medium sized heat proof bowl
  2. Heat cream.  We use a microwave for this but if this is your first ganache, heat the cream in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat and watch it carefully so it does not scald.  
  3. Slowly pour half the hot cream over the chocolate stirring constantly.   Mixture will be thin at first.  Keep stirring and slowly adding more cream as the mixture comes together and become glossy.
  4. Let mixture cool slightly-- a few minutes-- then carefully pour the ganache over the frosted cake.  Use a spatula or the back of a soup spoon to help spread the thick ganache over the cake and down the sides.  You can let the ganache drip naturally or smooth it over to cover the entire cake. 
  5. Decorate and enjoy.
Leftovers can be stored, covered in the refrigerator.  Slices can be frozen for mid-winter indulgence.