I have always wanted to make a Yule log. I really thought this was the year to do it. It just didn’t happen for New Years. And I didn’t decoarte it. So I guess I just made a Swiss Roll.
Swiss Rolls are simple cakes to make. It is a sponge cake batter that is baked on a rimmed sheet pan for about 5-6 minutes. When it comes out, the cake is rolled to give it a “memory” while it cools. A whipped cream filling is then spread on the unrolled cooled cake, and it is rolled back up and covered in a ganache.
The verdict: it was ok. My oldest son really liked it. He does not like really sweet desserts. My youngest son is not much of a chocolate fan. I thought it was ok, would not be in my top 5 requested desserts.
Sometimes the food I make is more for the experience and learning the technique than for eating.
Not being excited about the Swiss Roll, I decide to try making one of my FAVORITE desserts. A Napoleon.
I’ve made puffed pastry dough and it’s not hard, but it is time consuming and bottom line, the store bought stuff is not bad.
There are two sheets in the store bought box. If it is frozen, let it thaw out of a little while, but not so long that it is soft and sticky. Sprinkle with sugar and roll it out slightly, pressing the sugar in. Cut it into three long strips and place on a backing sheet. Set it in the freezer for 15 minutes. Then bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes till golden brown under a colling rack. The cooling rack prevents it from rising too much and keeps it even.
Remove from oven, and place on top of the cooling racks to cool. Meanwhile, make the pastry cream.
In a bowl, wisk 4 egg yolks, 1/4 c. sugar and 1/4 c. cornstarch. Set aside. In a large sauce pot, bring 2 cups whole milk, 1/4 c. sugar and 1 scraped vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract) to a boil. Keep an eye on it and don’t let the milk burn. OPTIONAL: add 1 Tbsp instant coffee or espresso powder and wisk in.
Slowly pour a little of the hot milk into the eggs wisking constantly. This tempers the eggs so they don’t scramble in the hot milk.
Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the sauce pot with the rest of the milk and bring to a boil, while wisking. Cook for 2 minutes. The pastry cream will get very thick. Then put the pastry cream into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap that is pressed onto the surface (this prevents a “skin”) and chill at least 2-3 hours.
Pastry cream is wonderful! It’s in the center of eclairs, layers of trifle can be flavored, and mixed with whipped cream to make diplomat cream- which is what goes into Napoleons.
I whipped up 1 cup heavy whipping cream and then folded it into my coffee flavored pastry cream. Diplomat Cream.
I flipped over one layer of the puffed pastry and spread on a layer of cream. Repeat. The top layer I frosted with a mixture of powdered sugar and heavy cream. I piped stripes of chocolate ganache and dragged a toothpick through. This is a traditional topping. It did not look as perfect as I would have liked, but Brian said “you don’t have eyes in your mouth”.
All that work, might as well make two. One for us, one to give.
Oh, and it was delicious!