12 Days of Desserts

I am terribly behind on my dessert posts, and suddenly it has become day 12. I am currently in Arizona visiting J (aka insisting he rest and get over this cold he’s had for 2 weeks so he’s ready to visit my parents this weekend -_- sigh) and have lost track of my days. Holiday chaos + J = complete loss of time and space. My apologies, but to catch up…

12 Days of Desserts: Day 10, 11, & 12

Samoas Bark
Christmas Fudge (the quintessential Christmas dessert)
Pistachio Chocolate Buche de Noel

What kind of Holiday Dessert list would it be without some type of bark or fudge listed? I’ve done quite a few chocolate-mint flavored things so I wanted to switch it up with another of my favorites, coconut. Samoas are a wonderful cookie that make a surprisingly tasty bark.

Samoas Bark

Recipe from Bakers Royale

1 bag 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli)

1 cup coarsely crushed shortbread (to save time, feel free to use Walker’s Shortbread, or if you want to make it yourself, use this recipe here)
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes, toasted
3/4 cup caramel sauce (recipe below)

Place coconut on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 5 minutes or until coconut starts to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Make caramel sauce and set aside to cool. Portion out 2 tablespoons for topping.
Place chocolate in double boiler or a heat-proof bowl over simmering water and gently stir until chocolate is melted. Portion out 2 tablespoons for topping.
Pour half of chocolate into prepared pan, and, using an offset icing spatula smooth out chocolate until an even layer is achieved. Sprinkle coarsely crushed shortbread on top and gently press it into the chocolate. Transfer pan to the freezer for 5 minutes or until chocolate becomes slightly hardened.
Remove pan from freezer and pour caramel sauce on top, then, using an offset icing spatula spread caramel until an even layer is achieved. Transfer pan to the freezer for 5 minutes or until caramel becomes slightly hardened. Remove pan from freezer and pour other half of chocolate on the caramel layer. To finish, sprinkle coconut on top and drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons of chocolate and caramel on top of coconut. Transfer pan to refrigerator for about 5-10 or until bark is set.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. When ready to cut, be sure to use a very sharp knife.

Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoon butter
7 tablespoon heavy cream

Add sugar and water into a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Use a wet brush to remove any crystals that form on the side. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high. Every so often, give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. Do not stir the mixture directly. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute. As the mixture darkens to a medium amber color, approximately 5-7 minutes, add the butter and heavy cream to saucepan. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine (bubbles will subside upon cooling). Set aside to cool completely.

One candy that must be made during the holiday season is my mother’s Christmas fudge. It isn’t Christmas unless fudge has been made. I absolutely abhor marshmallow creme, but during the holidays I set aside my aversion to make fudge.

Christmas Fudge

Recipe from my mother :] (adapted from the Kraft marshmallow creme jar)

3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 small can (5 oz.) evaporated milk (this is NOT the same as sweetened condensed milk!)
12 squares Baker’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped
1 jar (7 oz.) Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme
1 cup  chopped walnuts (or pecans, or these can be omitted entirely)
1 tsp. vanilla

Line a 9×9 inch square pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Bring sugar, butter and evaporated milk to full rolling boil in medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook 4 min. or until candy thermometer reaches 234°F, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Mix in chocolate and marshmallow creme; stir until melted. Add nuts (optional) and vanilla; mix well.
Pour into prepared pan; spread to cover bottom of pan. Cool completely. Use foil handles to lift fudge from pan before cutting into squares.

My mother’s favorite variation of this recipe is to use white chocolate chunks, craisins, and macadamia nuts. But nothing beats the original. Experiment with your favorite flavors & let me know the results!

Buche de Noel is a traditional French Christmas dessert that is a rolled and filled cake that looks like a Yule Log. This recipe from Martha Stewart is a play on that, but is less traditional in that it has ice cream rather than a cream filling. I quite like this because the freezing to keep the ice cream intact helps to keep the whole cake together. Previous versions that I’ve made have eventually gone smush (there’s no other word for it) if kept out during the dessert hour. Having ice cream in the middle requires that it be kept in the freezer, so therefore problems solved. Plus, I just really like pistachio ice cream. Martha does go a bit overboard though and literally makes this cake look like a log via the use of a wood graining rocker. I will be skipping this step – this is a time consuming cake to make to begin with, no need to add. But if you’re interested, see here.

Pistachio-Chocolate Buche de Noel

Recipe from Martha Stewart

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (highly recommend Ghirardelli), plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, separated, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 pints pistachio ice cream, beaten until spreadable
Chocolate Leaves (see tutorial here)
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
(Optional: Quick Set Chocolate Sauce, see recipe below; or a bottle of Magic Shell Chocolate Ice Cream Topping)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 12 x 17-inch rimmed baking sheet (jelly roll pan) with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper; spray paper. Into a small bowl, sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk yolks and half the sugar until thick and pale. Beat in vanilla. In a clean bowl, beat egg whites, with clean whisk, until soft peaks form. Slowly add remaining sugar; beat until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Fold egg whites into yolk mixture in three batches; add flour mixture with last batch.
Spread batter evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake until cake springs back to touch, 15 to 20 minutes. Run a small, sharp knife around edges to loosen, and invert cake onto clean kitchen towel (cotton – a cotton placemat will work also) dusted with cocoa powder. Peel off parchment paper. Starting at a short side, roll into a log, incorporating towel. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool, about 1 hour.
Unroll cake; spread ice cream evenly over top, leaving 1/2-inch border on all sides. Reroll (without towel). Arrange, seam side down, on parchment -lined baking sheet; freeze until ice cream is firm, at least 1 hour. Run a serrated knife under hot water and pat dry. Trim ends of log as desired. Rearrange these cut off ends to lean against the cake to appear as a cut log.

[OPTIONAL *cough crazy part cough* : Wrap log in chocolate wood-grain: Tuck one end of chocolate-coated acetate under cake while lifting other end up and over cake (chocolate side should be facing cake), being careful not to let chocolate touch the cake until the sheet is ready to be tucked under at other side. Place, seam side down, on an inverted baking sheet, and return to freezer. Let stand until the chocolate has hardened, about 10 minutes.]

If not doing the crazy part above, you can either coat the cake in the Magic Shell Topping, swirling quickly with a skewer to create a wood grain sort of look. Or you can make your own “magic shell topping” (see below) and do the same.

Quick Set Chocolate Sauce
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (or 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips will work also)
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler, or in a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water, or in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds, stirring well after each. Stir/whisk to combine and assist in melting. Stir in oil until well combined and chocolate appears silky. Use immediately.

When ready to serve, remove cake from freezer. Garnish with chocolate leaves, if desired.

And there you have it, 12 days of desserts for the holiday season!

Day 1: Millionaire’s Shortbread (Homemade Twix Bar)
Day 2: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Day 3: Cookie Truffles
Day 4: Sweet Almond Macarons
Day 5: Chocolate Sable Cookies
Day 6: Salted Caramels
Day 7: Mint Truffles
Day 8: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Day 9: Mint Chocolate Tart
Day 10: Samoas Bark
Day 11: Christmas Fudge
Day 12: Pistachio-Chocolate Buche de Noel

Now I am off for more holiday chaos – the next few days are filled with flights, shopping, baking, cooking, eating (of course), and good company. Can’t wait!

Happy Holidays! :]






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