Showstopping Christmas cakes and Choux buns
If you're not a fan of the usual Yuletide fruitcake, pastry chef Shane Smith's decadent, decorative Christmas cakes are guaranteed to impress your guests.
Coconut Truffle Gâteau
For the sponge:
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180g unsalted butter
380g caster sugar
275g plain flour
Pinch of salt
60g desiccated coconut
1 tbsp baking powder
200g egg white
300ml coconut milk
1 tsp coconut essence (optional)
Desiccated/shaved coconut, to garnish
For the buttercream:
500g unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 drops of coconut essence (optional)
For the coconut truffles:
150g white chocolate
30ml single cream
10g unsalted butter
50g desiccated coconut
1. For the coconut and white chocolate truffles, place the white chocolate, cream and butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water; stir until the chocolate is melted and all is combined. Place this mix in the fridge for 1 hour. Once set, divide the mix in 10, then roll into truffles, toss in the desiccated coconut and return to the fridge until needed.
2. For the cake, grease and line 2 x 19cm (7.5in) round loose-bottom cake tins with parchment paper.
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale in colour.
4. Combine the flour, cornflour, salt, desiccated coconut and baking powder in another bowl.
5. Mix the egg white, coconut milk and coconut essence, if using. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar, and mix.
6. Finally, add the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
7. Divide this batter between the 2 tins. Place in the centre of a preheated oven set at 160°C (140°C fan/325°F/Gas 3).
8. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown and a knife inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven, allow to rest in the tins for 5 minutes before removing the sponges to cool on a wire rack.
9. For the buttercream, simply whisk the room-temperature butter, icing sugar, vanilla and coconut essence, if using, in a bowl until pale and creamy.
1. Cut the cooled sponges horizontally through the centre, leaving 4 layers.
2. Sandwich each layer with a spoonful of the buttercream and use the remaining buttercream to cover the outside. While the buttercream is still soft, cover the outside and top with the desiccated/shaved coconut.
3. Place in the fridge to firm up. When serving, place the truffles on top and simply enjoy!
The sponges and truffles can be made up to 3 weeks in advance and frozen. Take them out of the freezer a few hours before you plan to assemble and decorate.
Dark Chocolate Coole Swan Yule Log
For the sponge:
4 large eggs
100g caster sugar
65g self-raising flour
40g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the ganache:
150g dark chocolate (55pc)
150ml double cream
For the filling:
200ml double cream
150ml Coole Swan Irish Cream Liqueur
For the chocolate bark:
200g dark chocolate
1. For the sponge, preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6).
2. Line a 33cm x 23cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until pale, frothy and thick.
4. Sieve the flour and cocoa into this mix and carefully fold it in, trying to keep as much air in as possible.
5. Pour into the lined tin, spread evenly into all four corners and bake in the centre of the oven for 8-10 minutes.
6. Place a piece of parchment paper bigger than the sponge on your work surface and turn out the cooked sponge onto this. Roll up (from the longer edge) using the paper, rolling with the paper inside. Then set aside to cool.
7. For the ganache, place the chocolate and cream in a plastic bowl and heat in your microwave on medium heat, until the cream and chocolate combine to leave a smooth consistency.
8. Place in the fridge for 1 hour to firm up.
9. The Coole Swan filling is quite easy: simply whisk the cream until thick. Then to this add the Coole Swan liqueur and re-whisk until thick. Keep chilled until needed.
10. To make the chocolate bark, melt the dark chocolate and pour this onto a lined baking tray, spread out to cover the tray and chill.
1. Carefully unroll the cooled Swiss roll and spread the Coole Swan cream in the centre. Re-roll and don't worry if the sponge cracks: it's going to be covered with ganache. Taking the ganache from the fridge, beat with a wooden spoon so it is spreadable. Using a palette knife, cover the rolled sponge with the ganache.
2. At this point, the chocolate bark will be set: just break it up in random pieces and attach these to the ganache. Dust with cocoa powder and serve.
Cover well and this can keep for up to 3 days in the fridge before serving.
Eggnog Custard Choux Bun Wreath
For the choux buns:
100g plain flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
3 medium eggs
For the caramel topping:
300g caster sugar
For the nutmeg custard:
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 medium egg yolks
130g caster sugar
30g plain flour
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1. Starting with the choux buns, preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan/400°F/ Gas 6). Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
2. Gently heat the water and butter until the butter is melted. Once melted, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Add the sieved flour and salt.
3. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth dough that comes away from the sides of the pan. Set aside to cool slightly for 10 minutes.
4. Place this dough in a bowl, whisk 1 of your eggs in a small bowl and set aside. Add the remaining 2 eggs, one at a time, to the warm dough and mix until fully incorporated. Add a little of the remaining beaten egg, a little at a time, until the dough is shiny and at a consistency that will hold its shape when piped. ( You may not need all of the last egg.)
5. Place this mix into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle and pipe 12-15 profiteroles on each tray, allowing room to spread during cooking.
6. Place in the middle of the preheated oven, drop the temperature to 180°C (160°C fan/350°F/ Gas 4) and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Remove from the oven and make a small hole in the base to allow the steam to get out.
8. For the nutmeg custard, in a pot gently heat the milk and vanilla. Once heated, remove and set aside.
9. In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks, sugar, flour, cornflour and nutmeg until smooth.
10. Add the warm milk to the egg mixture and combine. Strain back into a pot and stir over a medium heat until the custard is thick. Place this into a bowl and place a layer of cling film directly on top to prevent a skin forming. Chill.
11. The caramel is the next step. In a medium-size saucepan, add the sugar and water; heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Then turn up the heat and continue to cook until the mixture has turned a golden brown caramel colour. To stop the sugar from cooking further, carefully place the base of the saucepan in a bowl of cold water.
12. Allow the caramel to firm up slightly, then carefully dip the top of each profiterole in caramel and set aside.
13. Take the cooled nutmeg custard from the fridge and, using a piping bag, fill each profiterole from the bottom with custard.
14. Arrange in a circle on a serving platter to resemble a wreath, and serve.
The profiteroles can be baked and frozen up to 3 weeks in advance. Do not fill before freezing.