Caramel-Orange Buche De Noel
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar - (firmly packed)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 8 ounces imported white chocolate chopped (such as Lindt)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
- 1 1/2 cups toasted sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 6 large eggs separated
- 10 tablespoons dark brown sugar - (firmly packed)
- 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Powdered sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter - (2 sticks) room temperature
- 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
- Pine twigs
- Candied Cranberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup cranberries
For Buttercream: Whisk egg yolks, sugar and flour in medium bowl to blend well. Bring half-and-half to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Slowly whisk hot half-and-half into egg mixture. Return egg mixture to same saucepan and cook until mixture boils and thickens, whisking constantly.
Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add chocolate and orange peel and stir until mixture is smooth. Press plastic wrap onto surface of pastry cream to prevent skin from forming. Cool completely. (Pastry cream can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)
For Cake: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Butter 11- by 17-inch jelly roll pan. Line with parchment. Butter and flour parchment.
Coarsely grind toasted almonds with flour in processor. Using electric mixer, beat yolks with 5 tablespoons brown sugar in medium bowl until slowly dissolving ribbons form when beaters are lifted. Stir in orange peel and vanilla extract. Using clean dry beaters, beat whites with cream of tartar and salt in large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 5 tablespoons brown sugar and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into yolk mixture. Gently fold in almond mixture.
Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Run small sharp knife around pan sides if necessary to loosen cake. Slide cake on parchment onto rack. Cool.
Slide cake on parchment onto work surface. Loosen cake from parchment using knife as aid. Sift powdered sugar over cake. Invert onto cookie sheet. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and invert onto another parchment sheet.
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in Grand Marnier. Add pasty cream 1/4 cup at a time, beating after each addition until just blended.
Spread half of buttercream over cake, leaving 1/2-inch border. Starting at 1 long side, roll up cake jelly-roll fashion. Arrange seam-side down on parchment. Set aside 1/2 cup buttercream; spread remaining buttercream over cake. Cut 2 inches off each end of cake, cutting on diagonal.
Transfer cake to platter. Attach ends to top of cake, forming branches. Spread reserved 1/2 cup buttercream over cake ends and seams. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour to firm buttercream. (Cake can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature 20 minutes before serving.)
Arrange pine twigs on cake and on platter. Garnish with cranberries.
For Cranberries: Cook 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water in heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Transfer to top of double boiler. Add cranberries. Cover berry mixture and place over simmering water. Cook 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from over water. Let cranberry mixture stand at room temperature overnight.
Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar on plate. Drain cranberries well. Add to sugar and turn to coat. Let dry at least 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
This recipe yields 8 servings.