26 Dec 2010

Cool Coco Yule Log

Serves 8
Preparation: 25 mins
Cooking: 10 mins

If you decide to steer clear of chocolate in order to pre-empt any potential adverse effects it might have on your already calorie-rich Christmas menu, or to demonstrate that a Yule log dessert needn't be chocolate-based, or if you are simply on a mission to torment your chocoholic guests (for whatever reason this might be!), enters this snow-white delight, straight out of a winter fairy tale!

As light as a scoopful of snowflakes, with delicate Tropics undertones, this log will get temperatures rising! This is white Christmas in edible form, a coconut treat that will light up eyes and get tongues wagging. It will also nicely complement a Cool Yule home décor of white, pastels, silver and gold.

The beauty of it all is that it can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance, either in its entirety or just the biscuit base, with the cream filling & topping whipped up a couple of hours ahead of your lunch/ dinner. You are advised to read the whole recipe beforehand so that you can organise yourself accordingly on the day.

Biscuit base:
  • 4 organic eggs (yolks and whites separated)
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 80g flour
  • 25g unsalted butter + approx. 20g for greasing
  • parchment paper
  • pinch of salt
Filling & topping:
  • 150g desiccated coconut
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 500ml double-cream (very cold)
Boozy syrup:
  • 100g white caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons orange liqueur (ex: Cointreau) or mandarine liqueur
Topping suggestions:
  • Caramelised star-fruit or kumquat slices
  • Fresh physallis fruit
  • Candied orange peel
  • Sugar pearls, sprinkles, hundreds of thousands, etc.
  • Decorative flowers or figurines made out of almond paste or icing
Block of almond paste, ready for use
Start off with the biscuit base. Pre-heat the oven (180°C). Line a non-stick baking tray with parchment paper that you will grease as an added precaution (the biscuit does tend to adhere when cooked). Melt the butter in a small pan over a small flame. Leave to cool.

Beat up the yolks and caster sugar together until the mix pales down in colour and doubles up in volume. Then add the flour and keep blending together. Add the melted butter.

Whisk the whites stiff with one pinch of salt (acts as a stiffening aid). Delicately scoop the whites one spoon at a time into the yolk and flour mix, blending carefully and making sure that the batter remains light and fluffy throughout. Then pour into the lined baking tray, ensuring it spreads evenly across the whole surface. Place in the oven for 7 mins. The biscuit base should turn a pale gold (make sure not to overbake it or it will lose its moisture and elasticity).

While the biscuit is baking, prepare the boozy syrup. Combine sugar and water together in a small pan and boil until the sugar has melted. Then add the orange/ clementine liqueur and remove from the heat. Set aside.

Dampen a clean kitchen towel under the kitchen tap and then place it straight and unfolded on top the biscuit still in its tray, as soon as it comes out of the oven, and hold firmly together over your worktop or kitchen table. Carefully overturn the tray with the towel still firmly on top and deposit the upside-down biscuit onto the towel onto the work surface.

Peel the parchment paper off, ever so slowly and delicately, and then roll the biscuit base into the towel. Unroll and immediately soak the biscuit with the syrup using a tablespoon, until it saturates (you may not need to use up the syrup). Roll up the biscuit without the kitchen towel this time, and reserve in the fridge.

For the filling & topping, make sure that you don't skip on this important next step: you are strongly advised to place the double-cream for half an hour in the freezer before use, together with a freezer-proof blending bowl (ideally the blending bowl should stay in the freezer for a couple of hours). If you choose not to follow those recommendations, do it at your peril as you may experience difficulty in getting the whipped up cream to set (thicken) properly.

Gather the (very) cold double-cream in the (very) cold bowl and electric-whisk until it sets, i.e. forming crests. This process will require perseverance (a good 5 minutes). If you are struggling, the use of a stabilising agent (ex: Kremfix) should help. When you have reached the thickened 'Chantilly' consistency, add to the desiccated coconut and icing sugar combo. Blend all together with a spoon, then unroll the biscuit base carefully, spoon the cream on top as a uniform layer (approx. 1cm thick) and roughly flatten with a spatula. Roll the biscuit and then finish off with the remaining cream spread all over, using the spatula. Then place back in the fridge.

Finally decorate just before serving. On the pictures here, I hand-fashioned roses out of ready-made ready-coloured almond paste that I flattened into a long strip (for each rose), then shaped into a rose by loosely rolling the strip. The cupcake craze has encouraged an explosion of cake-topping opportunities, within the reach of the local supermarket, and I encourage you (and your children if you have any) to experiment with decorations and just have fun together! After all, Christmas is the best excuse to let the child within loosen up! And eh, who said this log was only made for Christmas anyway? Moi?...

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