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Seeking inspiration: A special dessert

SuB's picture

Hi All,
It's that time of year again; I've been asked to bring a dessert to a holiday gathering and once again I am drawing a blank on what to make. Too many possibilities out there.
I need your inspiration and ideas please!
This group are dear friends (and total chowhounds) who enjoy dessert and appreciate good food, esp. chocolate, so for me it is an opportunity to challenge myself and make something really festive and special, maybe develop a new (to me) dessert.
I'm considering a Buche de Noel, though that might be a bit too ambitious. I'm a little nervous at the thought of making meringue mushrooms (visions of time vampires dancing in my head), but it could be a fun project. Anyone have one that's really good?

What other special T&T dessert(s) would you like to see on the holiday table? What do you enjoy making &/or eating? Only limitations are that it has to travel reasonably well and be ready the day before.
Thanks all, and Happy Holidays!

Cheers, Sue B.

The older I get, the better I was.

Syrah's picture

It's not especially

It's not especially Christmasy, but the Chocolate Mousse Cake on this site is delicious and really satisfied the chocoholic in me. I wonder if adding frozen cherries to the layers would make it a bit more festive.

I saw a cake recently which had those hollow wafer sticks stuck round it and tied up with a bow. Then they piled berries in the centre. Looked delicious.

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be obtained." -Marie Curie

Adele's picture

Chocolate mousse cake for

Chocolate mousse cake for sure,, but the Buche de Noel looks really cool and it really isn't all that hard. I don't have a tried and true for it, can't even remember where I got the recipe I tried, but do remember it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. The Hot Chocolate Cake is pretty darn good too, and you get to make marshmallows. :)

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

chiquiNO's picture

Bobby FLAY DID A BOUCHE DE

Bobby FLAY DID A BOUCHE DE NOEL THROWN DOWN AND mADE A mAPLE WALNUT BOUCHE....IT LOOKED FABULOUS....i'M THINKING ABOUT DOING THAT ONE THIS YEAR!! iT'S ON fOOD NETWORK. Oops...sorry about the capps...

 

SuB's picture

Good ideas already, I love

Good ideas already, I love this group!
Would that be Abby Dodge's chocolate mousse cake with three variations, I think from FC#54? Big article on it on the website with great instructions. White choc curls on top? I've never made those...

Cheers, Sue B.

The older I get, the better I was.

Syrah's picture

Yes, this one. I am not very

Yes, this one. I am not very talented and just used the walnuts around the sides, but I'm sure you could pull off something more dramatic. Also, very unusual that I didn't think the sugar needed scaling back. It's perfect as is.

http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/chocolate-mousse-layer-cake.aspx?nter...

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be obtained." -Marie Curie

SuB's picture

I bet it was delicious with

I bet it was delicious with walnuts on the sides and looked fantastic.
Did you happen to see the FC technique article for making bittersweet chocolate shards? Simpler than curls, you melt the chocolate, spread it on waxed paper, cover w/ a second sheet, and roll into a tube then refrigerate until firm. When you unroll it you have long shards. Easy, and you can remelt the small bits and do it again so there's no waste. I think I might try it, it sounds manageable enough and you can do it ahead of time. The shards can look pretty cool if you can get them long enough.

Cheers, Sue B.

The older I get, the better I was.

Syrah's picture

Sounds quite doable. I would

Sounds quite doable. I would try it, although not this time of year for me.

I think it was Adele who encouraged me with this cake initially. :-)

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be obtained." -Marie Curie

Adele's picture

The chocolate mousse was my

The chocolate mousse was my very first cake. Step by step instructions. Oooh la la!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

RheaS's picture

A buche de noel is not

A buche de noel is not difficult and it can be fast to make compared to a layer cake. The thin sponge cake bakes quickly. Filling can be chocolate ganache lightened with whipped cream. Use more chocolate ganache for the frosting. The most important things to remember is to roll up the cake while it is still hot and to let it cool before filling. I bake the cake on a piece of parchment that extends past the sides of the pan and roll up the cake with the parchment. I don't bother with cocoa or icing sugar-dusted towels or transferring to another piece of parchment or wax paper.The meringue mushrooms can be tricky if you live in a humid climate, but you don't need that many and they're quick to make. Or you can omit them completely. I have made very pretty yule logs that have not been too fussy: ganache frosting, fork run through ganache to make it look like bark, a little powdered sugar for snow, a few "holly" leaves and berries made from marzipan or almond paste. I always get oohs and aahs when I have made yule logs because people always think it's difficult to make. I honestly find it easier than a mousse cake because the mousse can be grainy if not made properly or it doesn't set depending on the recipe. Having said all that, I do like the chocolate mousse cake recipe that the others have recommended.

SuB's picture

Thanks, Rhea. I'm glad to

Thanks, Rhea. I'm glad to hear a cocoa- or sugar-dusted towel isn't really necessary for rolling the cake, that sounds like a big mess and puts me off. Does the cake ever crack when you unroll it in order to fill with whipped ganache? Or does it really even matter once the cake is iced? I'm already picturing sugared cranberries and mint leaves for garnish; that way I can try the mushrooms and if they don't work out it doesn't matter. Do you have a favorite sponge cake recipe for rolling?

Cheers, Sue B.

The older I get, the better I was.

courgette's picture

A rolled cake is easy to make

A rolled cake is easy to make which is what a buche is. I made the hot chocolate cake from the last issue that Adele referred to and it was outstanding. The marshmallows are impressive and so easy to make. The whole cake is easy and really luscious. I would make again in a heartbeat.

On the other hand years ago I made Rice a la Imperitrice that was outstanding as well. It is a variation of that dessert whose name escapes me but it is gelatin and whipped cream. Sooo good. This one has glaced fruits in it and is Christmasy. Easy to do I think I will make again this year. The one I made was from a Time Life Foods of the World book that is inaccessible to me now, but I'm sure you could find online.

Mo

jaq's picture

I'm going to make a red

I'm going to make a red velvet cake- I think it looks so pretty and festive. I might use the Baked version this year, which has some cinnamon in it.

SuB's picture

Red Velvet cake would be

Red Velvet cake would be pretty for the holidays. Your guests will love it!

Cheers, Sue B.

The older I get, the better I was.

favorablyimpressed's picture

Buche de Noel is always

Buche de Noel is always impressive and, spaced over a few days, is very doable. I've used Jacques Peipn's recipe from his "Techniques" book. It's my favorite. I double the recipe for the genoise, and filling it with a creme patisserie is very so wonderful. The mushrooms can be done well in advance. In fact, I've frozen them and used them a year later. Well, c rap, I wanted to add lots of pictures of last year's buche, but I don't see the option. Sheesh!

SuB's picture

Looks like I can get Jacques

Looks like I can get Jacques Pepin's book at the library and have a look at it. While searching I learned that his "The Complete Pépin: techniques and recipes" will be available on DVD soon so I put a hold on it - plenty for me to learn. Perfect for the dark days of January.

Cheers, Sue B.

The older I get, the better I was.

brett_ashley's picture

i like this cake.

i like this cake. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Triple-Chocolate-Celebratio...

It's as fancy or as simple as I have time for.

SuB's picture

Wow. That is really

Wow. That is really something. You've made this cake? Did you use the transfers? How were they to work with? Thanks for the idea!

Cheers, Sue B.

The older I get, the better I was.

brett_ashley's picture

Hi Sue... Sorry to be so late

Hi Sue...

Sorry to be so late in responding. How do I turn on notifications?

Yes I have made this cake and variations of it ten times or more. Only twice have I done the whole shabang. The transfers bother me because it makes the cake a huge mess to slice. other than that, i didn't find transfers to be difficult. time-consuming, yes, but hard, no.

What I did for my grandparents-in-law's 65th anniversary was press mini chocolate chips in the side. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Lyy6c4S1Lbg/SApyKXRBqhI/AAAAAAAAAsM/dfDRXvATIc... I've also done cake crumbs a la Dorie's chocolate whiteout cake.

it works great with or without ganache, with cake recipe as directed or with Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate or SueB's cake. i've used them all.

brett_ashley's picture

also wanted to add that if

also wanted to add that if you do transfers be sure to pick a rather busy design. mine was simple and showed some fingerprints pretty prominently.