As part of an attempt to be lighter and brighter this year I’m doing the 100 happy days photo project. Here are my first 25 days all squished up together; when I see them like this January doesn’t seem so bad after all. There’s been a good mixture of food and exercise, some cheery bits and bobs at home and at work and around the city, some fun times with friends and family, and a good hair day! If you fancy a daily dose of happiness you can follow me on instagram for regular updates, or of course sign up yourself.
Some of the recipes that have made the happy list include tattie scones (a brunch of Burn’s night leftovers, with haggis and egg) and roasted cauliflower, but perhaps my favourite is the one pictured as a work in progress, second from the left in the bottom row. A re-creation of a Christmas day dessert, this white chocolate Bûche de Noël (that’ll be a yule log, then) went down a treat when my parents came for dinner. You need to plan ahead with it (the cream needs a few hours in the fridge to set) but it is well worth the effort for some light, fruity, festive deliciousness!
White chocolate Bûche de Noël (recipe from Sainsbury’s Magazine)
1. Make a fruit syrup. Put 200g mixed red berries and 100g caster sugar over a low heat in a small pan and simmer for 10-15 mins. Sieve over a bowl to drain the syrup and set the fruit and syrup aside to cool.
2. Make the sponge. Separate 5 medium eggs into two large bowls. Add 100g caster sugar and 2 tsp vanilla extract to the egg yolks and whisk until doubled in volume, then set aside. Next whisk the egg whites with a clean whisk to stiff peaks, then whisk in 25g caster sugar. Fold 100g plain flour into the egg yolks, then gradually fold in the egg whites until smooth but still fluffy.
3. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and spread the mixture so it measures about 25cm x 35cm and is level. Bake at 180 C / gas mark 4 for 10-12 mins until golden. Cool for 5 mins then brush the sponge liberally with the syrup you made earlier. Cover with clingfilm and set aside.
4. Make the white chocolate cream. Break 200g white chocolate into pieces and melt (you can do this over a pan of simmering water but I just use the microwave, a la Nigella). In a small pan gently heat 300ml double cream until hot but not boiling. Pour the cream over the melted chocolate and whisk. It might look scarily lumpy but don’t worry, just keep whisking until smooth. Stir in 1 tsp vanilla extract and 100g mascarpone and stir until glossy. Add the zest of 1 lime, then cover and chill for 2 hours.
5. After 2 hours, use an electric hand whisk to beat the chilled white chocolate cream to peaks. There’s a fine line between thick but spreadable and split, so go carefully. Spread a thin layer of the cream over the soaked sponge, and scatter the berries over.
6. Use the baking paper to roll up the Yule log tightly, starting with one of the long sides. Slice off a piece at an angle to make a branch and arrange on a serving platter. Cover the log with the rest of the white chocolate cream. Chill until ready to serve.