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Recipe: Chesnut Cream and Pear Yule Log

It’s the perfect French holiday dessert. Made with sponge cake or fruit mousse, topped with chocolate, coffee, or chestnut cream, the yule loge will bring a nice final touch to your Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve dinner!

For this occasion, France-Amérique recommends this recipe by Parisian pastry chef Sébastien Gaudard, which was recently published in François-Régis Gaudry’s coffee-table book Let’s Eat France! (Artisan Books).


For the Pears Poached with Vanilla

Ingredients:
3 red Williams pears (half of one reserved for decor)
Juice of 1 lemon

1⁄2 cup water
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 Tahitian vanilla bean

Preparation:
The day before, peel the pears and drizzle them with some of the lemon juice. Bring the water and sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and scrape out and reserve the seeds. Add the empty vanilla pod and the scraped seeds to the saucepan and bring the contents to a boil. Dunk the pears in the boiling syrup, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. The pears are done when they offer only slight resistance when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove from the heat, transfer the pears and their syrup to a container, and allow to cool to room temperature.

For the Almond Génoise

Ingredients:
1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
4 eggs

1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 3⁄4 ounces almond flour

Preparation:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Sift the all-purpose flour. Melt the butter. Break the eggs into a stainless steel bowl, then add the sugar. Prepare a bain-marie, place the bowl over it, and whisk vigorously until the egg-sugar mixture reaches a temperature between 140°F and 149°F. Remove from the bain-marie and beat the mixture until it has cooled completely. Stir 2 tablespoons of this mixture into the butter. Fold the all-purpose and almond flours into the remaining egg foam, then carefully fold in the butter mixture using a wooden spoon or paddle. Spread the génoise out using a stainless steel spatula onto a sheet of parchment paper measuring 9 3⁄4 by 15 3⁄4 inches. Slide the paper into the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

For the Chestnut Cream Filling

Ingredients:
18 ounces chestnut paste
8 ounces crème de marrons (chestnut cream)
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Preparation:
Stir together the chestnut paste and crème de marrons. Add the butter and whisk until the mixture is lightened and pale in color. Set aside 10 1⁄2 ounces in the refrigerator for the decor.

Assembly

Drain the pears, reserving the syrup. Cut the pears into 1/3-inch cubes (you should have about 10 1⁄2 ounces). Using a pastry brush, lightly soak the génoise cake with the pear syrup. Spread the chestnut cream filling over the génoise, then distribute the diced pear pieces over the top. Roll up the cake; it should be about 93⁄4 inches in length. Refrigerate it for 2 hours. Ice the cake with the reserved chestnut cream and use the back of a spoon or a spatula to make markings in the icing to simulate the bark of a tree. Halve the remaining pears and cut them into wedges. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Place the pear wedges on top of the yule log, next to the candied chestnut.

Tip From the Chef

“To enhance the aromatic notes of this dessert, add a little pear eau-de-vie to the syrup before using it to soak the génoise.”

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