Sunday, December 26, 2010

Traditions and Bouche de Noel

My friend Anne is English and Irish. Her Irish American father met her English mother in England during World War II. After the war Anne's mother came to the states and married her soldier. She brought her English holiday traditions with her.

Anne's sister Kathy is married to a gentleman from Paris, France. He brought his French holiday traditions with him.

Anne met her husband Dan in Liberia where they were both serving in the Peace Corps. Dan was born and raised in Wisconsin. They brought back many holiday traditions from lands near and far with them.

Today we are celebrating Boxing Day. Most of the world outside the United States celebrates a form of Boxing Day, especially in Canada, Ireland and England.

I am a cook. Boxing Day and my friends give me something to be passionate about, namely, cooking. Cooking is my tradition, I bring it to you.

I made a traditional French Christmas dessert for today's festivities; Bouche de Noel. There is still time for you to make it for your New Year's celebration. What traditions do you bring to your holidays?

Bouche de Noel: serves 12

To make it a bit less complicated, use boxed cake mix and premade frosting (gasp!)

1 box yellow cake mix.
2 cans chocolate frosting (do not use the "whipped" kind)
2 cups heavy cream
12 ounces good quality semi sweet morsels
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
pinch cream of tartar

A few days before you are ready to make the cake, beat 2 egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar and a pinch of cream of tartar until stiff and glossy. Place meringue in a pastry bag and pipe out 12 rounds and 12 columns of white. Bake in a 200 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours. Cool and place in a sealed container. You are going to make mushrooms out of this.

The night before you bake your cake scald 2 cups heavy cream in a small pan. Place the chocolate in a small bowl and pour the hot cream over. Let it sit for a few minutes then whisk to combine. Cover and cool in the refrigerator overnight. This is your chocolate ganache that will be spread on the inside of the cake.

The day you want to serve your cake. Follow directions on cake mix box to bake cake. Use a jelly roll pan and grease and flour well. It will only take about 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven to cook.

Get a kitchen towel ready and dust with flour. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven invert it on your towel and roll it up jelly roll style. Let cook completely in the towel - about 2 hours.

Okay. Ready.

Take your ganache out of the refrigerator and beat for a few minutes. Not too long, you want to be able to spread it.

Unroll your cake. Spread the ganache over the entire surface of the cake, then roll up and place on a platter.

Attache the meringue columns to the bottom of the meringue circles using a bit of the canned frosting as glue. Set aside.

Frost the rolled cake heavily, using the tip of your knife to draw "bark" lines and circles.

Use holly leaves or rosemary sprigs to decorate the platter. You can dip the greens in a beaten egg while, then roll in sugar for a snowy effect. Dust your mushrooms with a bit of cocoa powder and place the meringue mushrooms around using frosting to cement to platter, use currants or cranberries as additional garnish.

In the tradition of Good Cooks everywhere, stand back and admire your work.

Making the mushrooms

Whipping the ganache for the filling

Dipping Rosemary Sprigs in egg white and sugar to create a snowy garnish

Bouche de Noel


  1. So beautiful, finally a mushroom my family would eat! I just don't have the skills to bake anything that pretty.

    My post Christmas tradition... Hmmm, trying to fit 2 garbage cans full of garbage into one garbage can. :)

    Happy Boxing Day!

  2. I am afraid too many of us have the same problem as Tamis with the left overs to dispose of. You sure do have some wonderful things to share with us that like to eat and I really appreciate it.

  3. That is gorgeous and sounds so delicious!

  4. Wow that is impressive. Hope that you had a happy boxing day (is that what you say?). I hope that you had as happy of a New Year as you could. I wish you all the best and peace in 2011. Take care.

  5. That is absolutely beautiful.

    Our tradition is homemade tamales on Christmas Eve.


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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