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Birch de Noel

Martha Stewart Living Television
Our variation on the classic French bûche de Noël combines a rich chocolate génoise with white-chocolate mousse. For added woodland appeal, this roll cake is decorated with sugared rosemary sprigs, chocolate truffles, and meringue mushrooms.

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Birch de Noel

Makes 1 ten-by-five-inch log

To make sugared rosemary sprigs, brush washed sprigs with a glaze of one egg white from a large egg thinned with a tablespoon of water, then coat in superfine sugar, and let dry.

1 fresh coconut

6 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons rum

White Chocolate Mousse (recipe follows)

Seven Minute Frosting

Meringue Mushrooms

Snowy Chocolate Truffles (recipe follows)

Sugared rosemary sprigs

1. Heat oven to 350°. Wrap coconut in a kitchen towel, and place in oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and place on a work surface. Reduce oven to 250°. Tap coconut with a hammer until it cracks in several places; break it into pieces. The white flesh should be slightly pulling away from the hard shell. Separate it, keeping pieces of coconut as large as possible. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the largest pieces of coconut into long curls, and place on a baking sheet in oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until just dry. Grate the smaller pieces on the small holes of a box grater. You will need about 1/2 cup grated coconut for the cake filling.

2. Heat oven to 400°. Line a 12-by-17-inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks on high speed until pale yellow, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, and set aside. Wash and dry mixer bowl.

3. Place egg whites in bowl of electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium high, and add sugar gradually, whipping until stiff peaks form. Transfer egg-white mixture to a large bowl.

4. Using a rubber spatula, fold egg-yolk mixture into egg-white mixture. Sift cocoa powder and flour over top, and gently fold in. Pour batter into prepared pan, and smooth top with an offset spatula.

5. Bake until cake springs back when touched, 9 to 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and immediately turn cake out onto a wire rack lined with parchment paper. Peel parchment paper from top of cake, and cool completely.

6. Place a clean kitchen towel on work surface. Transfer cake on parchment paper to towel. Using a pastry brush, coat cake with rum. Using an offset spatula, spread white-chocolate mousse over cake. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut.

7. With a short end of cake facing you, roll carefully into a roulade (image 1). Wrap in a kitchen towel, and secure with clothespins or large metal binder clips (image 2) to hold the roll in a tight round shape. Place on a baking sheet, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

8. Remove from refrigerator, and unwrap. Using a serrated knife, trim the ends of the roll, cutting on the bias. Choose the more presentable end, and place it, cut-side up, on the log, forming a branch. If desired, use the other cut end for a second branch.

9. Transfer the log to a serving platter. Slide 5-inch strips of parchment paper under the log to protect the tray while decorating. Coat with Seven Minute Frosting using an offset spatula (image 3). Remove parchment pieces. Decorate with Meringue Mushrooms, Snowy Chocolate Truffles, coconut shavings, and rosemary sprigs.

White Chocolate Mousse

Makes 5 1/2 cups

1 seven-gram envelope powdered gelatin

12 ounces best quality white chocolate, roughly chopped

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

1. Dissolve gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water, and set aside for 5 minutes. Place chocolate in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until very finely chopped.

2. Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Place 3/4 cup cream in a small saucepan, and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Add gelatin, and stir for 30 seconds to dissolve completely. Pour into food processor with the motor running, and process until chocolate mixture is smooth.

3. Transfer to a medium bowl and place over ice water bath. Chill until mixture is thick enough to fall from a spoon in ribbons.

4. Whip remaining 1 3/4 cups heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold into chocolate mixture. If not using immediately, refrigerate in an airtight container.

Snowy Chocolate Truffles

Makes about 50

1 1/2 cups slivered almonds (optional)

1 pound best-quality bittersweet chocolate

1 cup heavy cream

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1. Heat oven to 350°. Place almonds, if using, on a baking sheet, and toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Use a serrated knife to finely chop chocolate. Place in a heat-proof bowl; set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour directly over chopped chocolate, stirring to fully incorporate. Let sit for 10 minutes. Stir until completely smooth. Allow to cool for 20 minutes.

3. Stir in almonds, if using, and place in the refrigerator until set. Use a melon baller or 1 1/4-inch ice-cream scoop to portion out chocolate. Roll the mixture between palms to form 1-inch truffles. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Coat with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

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