By Kim Petyt
The holiday season is in full swing here in Paris, and all across the arrondissements, cries can be heard to Bring on Les Bûches! If you’ve ever taken French in junior- or high- school, you’ve undoubtedly attempted to bake one of these “French Yule Logs” with your classmates- a spongy sheet-cake that you covered in jam and rolled into a giant Ho-Ho® and then covered in chocolate icing? Well, needless to say, the French tend to take their bûche de noël a tad bit more seriously than that.
Paris is especially known for its’ vast selection of couture bûches. Most are available in limited quantities and for a limited time. So, if you’re in Paris and plan to get your bûche on at this year’s holiday party, you’d better hurry and reserve yours now. But don’t think that you only have to be in France to appreciate these edible masterpieces. Here are some of the highlights from this season’s cake collections to inspire your holiday table, no matter where you may be celebrating this year:
“Le Prince Jardinier”
Celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Louis XIV’s illustrious gardener, André Le Nôtre, gardener and Prince, Louis Albert de Broglie has created a “Winter Garden” bûche de Noel – an edible green house filled with candy trees and plants made of spices, cakes and sugar, sitting on a bed of chocolate cream with a layer of glitter feuilletine crisp.
8/10 persons – 120.00 €
This holiday season, Vincent Lemains, Head of Pastry Creation at Ladurée whisks us back to childhood with his whimsical bûche de noel made of little Christmas boots all lined up and waiting to be filled by Père Noel. Light Caribbean chocolate mousse and creamy passion fruit on a bed of coconut biscuit.
6 persons – 92 €
Pierre Hermé calls his 2013 bûche, “Life is beautiful!” A tribute to the artist Bernard Quentin, this dessert exudes cheerfulness and good humor. Shortbread, white chocolate mousse and lime zest, lime biscuit soaked in passion fruit, rhubarb compote and stewed strawberries.
6 persons – 85€
“Blancs et Merveilles”
A dessert as light as air! A bûche de noel made of crisp macarons and toasted hazelnuts, chocolate and citrus mousse, cream meringue and fresh bergamot compote. A cloud of exquisite flavors highlighted by lemon and bergamot flavored marshmallow lollipops.
6/8 pers 110€
“Sapin de Noël”
The Belgian chocolatier offers his version of the classic French Christmas dessert by animating these jolly white snowmen, who are also hiding a special surprise- two drawers filled with chocolates and sweets are hidden beneath their tummies.
This bûche celebrates the famous Paris skyline, including the Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur and the Arc de Triomphe. It’s made of a dark chocolate mousse, almond biscuit and dark raspberries. The base is decorated with a thin layer of painted chocolate, reminiscent of the cobblestoned streets of Paris.
6/8 persons 51€
Boule de Noël XXL
This oversized holiday bauble designed by Cyril Lignac consists of a vanilla bourbon ganache, creamy candied chestnuts, a praline biscuit and a dark chocolate shell covered with a red velvet chocolate.
6/8 persons – 95€
“Conte de Noel”
Nicolas Cloiseau, Meilleur Ouvrier de France Chocolatier 2012 has invented a wild reindeer ride for the new 2013 bûche from La Maison du Chocolat. His design consists of a thin almond biscuit, with champagne cream and diced pears in a fruit flambée, sitting on a base of crisp chocolate completely covered in gold leaf. A true Christmas story!
6/8 persons – 120 €
“Palais de Tokyo”
Master chocolatier Pierre Marcolini pays tribute to Paris’ Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum. The facade of the museum is built in dark chocolate and its interior is decorated with a coffee and pistachio meringue, crisp red fruit, a chestnut jam and a light coffee mousse. A true work of art!
10 persons – 150 €
“Nuit Blanche de Noël”
This delicate bûche, by Hugues Pouget, chef pâtissier of Hugo & Victor, is made of daquois, Madagascar vanilla mousse and a heart of chestnut splashed with candied chestnuts wrapped in lace.
6/8 persons – 85€
“Trésor des Forêts”
Inspired by chestnut forests and dressed in a black velvet chocolate, this bûche is made of a 70% dark chocolate mousse topped with a natural kumquat paste with bergamot zest. The golden nugget that you see in the center? An “almond “ of creamy milk chocolate topped with a touch of kumquat. A treasure trove of flavors.
6 persons – 90 €
In honor of the Plaza Athenée’s temporary closure for renovations (it reopens in April, 2014) Pastry chef Christophe Michalak and Jean-Marie Hiblot have created a “travel trunk” bûche de noel: creamy Caribbean chocolate on a bed of crispy praline biscuit, coconut and an exotic fruit coulis.
Available only at Le Meurice in Paris and the The Dorchester in London, limited edition.
You could almost expect to find this bûche, designed by pastry chef François Perret, under the Christmas tree. Each little cube consists of a trio of flavors: a light biscuit coated with caramel sauce, covered in crushed hazelnuts and then wrapped in a classic chocolate mousse. The “presents” are wrapped in a 70% Carupano chocolate belt and tied with a golden sugar string.
Available at Restaurant La Bauhinia and in the lounges of the hotel from the 1st to the 25th of December 2013.
Stéphane Tranchet, Head of Pastries at the five-star hotel Le Burgundy, has created a bûche made of dark chocolate Chantilly cream on an almond and orange zest biscuit, topped with a cherry compote and dusted with sparkling white chocolate and silver powder. The entirety is then wrapped in a tubular “pine forest” of dark chocolate lace.
6/8 persons – 90€
How about spending Christmas in the tropics, with Arnaud Delmontel’s delicious tropical bûche de Noel? Named “Rio”, this cake is made of a coconut milk mousse, diced pineapple and a coconut milk dacquoise.
8 persons – 52€
The Pastry Chef of Trianon Palace Versailles, Eddie Benghanem, was inspired by the green velvet love seat located in the hotel lobby in creating his refined bûche. This dessert is topped with a chocolate mousse, vanilla cream and pear compote. The total has then been delicately placed on a chocolate nougat praline.
Available from December 10 at the Trianon Palace Versailles.
10 persons – 120 €