Last year, my friend and I made a Buche de Noel for Reveillon, the annual French club dinner. We had never made a roll cake before, and we wanted to find a traditional recipe. Well, if yule logs are French, then a recipe in French must be perfect, right?
Our first mistake came with using Google Translate for the recipe.
“1 cuillère à café de levure” = “1 teaspoon of yeast”
hum… something doesn’t seem right… But maybe it’s a French thing to put yeast in cakes…
Second mistake: Trusting Google Translate.
So we put in dry yeast and stuck the cake in the oven. It came out tasting like sweetened eggs and yeast.
It took us 6 hours to make a practice Buche de Noel. We had to make the cake twice (second time with a recipe we could actually read), and then we made little meringue mushrooms.
We found out after putting them on the cake for an hour that they melt under humidity. They became sticky and soft… and utterly gross.
Well, it was a good thing that that time it was a trial run!
We’re doing it again this year (2 this time!), but I decided to run a small experiment with meringues.
With my head scrambled with info about Photosystem II coming before Photosystem I, it was a miracle that these mushrooms came out as well as they did! The trick is to make sure they’re thoroughly dried before you take them out. And make sure you store them in a VERY dry place!
I can’t get over how utterly adorable these little things are!!!! 😀
These are sooo easy to make… But it does take some practice to get the stems and caps all nicely shaped.
-Instead of using chocolate to connect the caps and the stems, you can use a dab of wet meringue, but then you have to return it back into the oven for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, melted white chocolate should also work. I personally enjoy the contrast of the dark chocolate to the white meringues.
-These will MELT. So store them in a dry place!
Preheat the oven to 200 F.
Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add in the sugar gradually, continuously beating until the egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.
Fill a piping bag (with a round tip) with the egg white mixture.
Meringue mushrooms are made in two parts, the stem and the cap. So, to pipe the stems, apply pressure continuously while moving the icing tip up. You want the stem to be about 1/2 inch - 1 inch tall and not too thick. If the bottom is a bit wider than the top, it's okay.
Pipe the caps by holding the icing tip about 1/2 inch away from the baking tray and applying pressure until the cap is about 1 inch in diamater. Then, stop applying pressure and swirl the icing bag around the cap in an "O" shape to get rid of the peak.
Smooth down any peaks with a wet finger.
Bake for about an hour, or until crunchy.
To assemble, take a dab of chocolate on the middle of the bottom of the cap and stick on a stem.