At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Saturday, 27 December 2014

The Holly Leaf Log!! :)

Happy Christmas everyone !!! Well when I started on the post yesterday, it was St. Stephen's Day, or Boxing Day as we say in England ;) and it was absolutely BUCKETING down with rain. No white Christmas for us in Laois this year I guess. :( But hey, looking at this chocolate log here, you wouldn't know it, right? Nothing like a little sprinkling of icing sugar for that gorgeous snowy effect upon a festive Christmas treat. ;) And fortunately, I made this on Christmas Eve in consent with my brother's demands ;) and it wasn't raining then, fortunately. For if it had been, Santa's sledge might well have ended up being a rather soggy affair - and Ganache-Elf would have been deterred once again from wandering down the lane to find those precious holly leaves. ;)

Anyway, to cut a long story short, holly leaves were found and gathered - mission accomplished!!! And then on Christmas evening, not only were logs crackling away on the fire, adding a true Christmassy feel to the air - but there was a log of an entirely different sort sitting prettily in the kitchen, adorned with chocolate holly leaves and dusted with powdery, snow-like icing sugar; all of which served to contribute further to that wonderful, nostalgic atmosphere that is Christmas...a time of joy, excitement, love, and giving. And chocolate of course, as I have mentioned before. ;)

I have been making this chocolate log for several years now. It's my little brother's favourite Christmas dessert - he's never been a fan of Christmas pudding or the trifle that my Daddy favours. But this cake manages to combine all of the qualities I would asscociate with my brother's ideal dessert. Whipped cream, dark chocolate ganache, a soft, light chocolate sponge, and lots of beautiful prickly holly leaves made of real chocolate. 

I just adore the wintry prettiness of this log. it's what you would call a real show-stopper. ;) Feel free to make as many chocolate leaves as you like. Just be careful when you pluck the natural leaves from the branches of the holly tree - those pricks on the edges sure are sharp. :) You will also need a little paintbrush for "painting" the leaves with chocolate. Yes, this is how you do's that simple!! ;) But as I say, a clean, small paintbrush is required for this. A new one is probably best of course, though I use one which hails from my Painting by Number days - well washed of course - though since chocolate leaves are fast becoming one of my preferred decorative effects to add to chocolate cakes, I intend to toddle along to the shops one day soon and buy my very own Tesco Value paintbrush for such a purpose. ;)

Ingredients :)

For the sponge...

  • 3 large eggs (at room temperature :) )
  • 125 g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 25 g plain flour
For the filling and ganache...

  • 200 ml whipping/double cream
  • 200 g plain chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 200 ml single cream
For the leaves...

  • About 100 g - 150 g plain chocolate (or more if you feel so inclined :) ), roughly chopped
  • A little icing sugar for dusting
Method :)
  • I think it is always a good idea to start this cake by making the leaves. Gather  a good quantity of fresh holly leaves from a tree. Wash them very gently in a sieve and then pat dry on kitchen paper. Make sure they are completely dry before you resume with the chocolate melting. ;)
  • Melt the plain chocolate for the leaves in a heatproof bowl sitting over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until completely melted.
  • Leave for a few minutes to cool slightly. Place a large piece of baking paper on a tray. Then, use your little paintbrush to paint a thick layer of melted chocolate on the underside of each holly leaf. Make sure it is quite a thick layer, or the chocolate will just crack or flake when you remove the leaf later on. Place the painted leaves on the tray, wet sides facing up. Leave in a cold place or the fridge for about an hour to set.

  • While the leaves dry you can go about making the sponge. Preheat oven to 200 c/180 c fan.
  • Grease a Swiss Roll tin (mine measures 30 cm x 20 cm :) ) and line with a large piece of baking paper. Cut it big enough so that it comes all the way up all four sides of the tin, trimming the overlaps if necessary with a pair of scissors.
  • Break the eggs into a large bowl. With an electric whisk, beat them for about 2 minutes, then tip in 100 g of the caster sugar. Whisk them together for about 5 minutes, until the mixture becomes thicker, creamier and paler in colour. 
  • Sift the cocoa and the flour together into a separate bowl and stir them together. Then, sift them into the bowl containing the whisked egg mixture.
  • Fold the flour and cocoa very gently into the egg mixture with a large metal spoon. be very light-handed here so you dont knock out any of those air bubbles you created with all your hard work with the whisk!
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared tin. Smooth it all out evenly with the metal spoon. Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the cake is fully cooked, risen and spongy. It should be set and slightly firm. 
  • While the cake is in the oven, cut a large piece of baking paper and lay it on top of a clean, dry tea towel on a work surface. Sprinkle with the remaining 25 g of caster sugar. 
  • When the cake is cooked, turn it out onto the sugar-covered baking paper on the work surface. Very carefully remove the baking paper that the cake itself was baked in and discard.
  • Then carefully roll the sponge up from the short side, rolling the sugar-covered baking paper inside it as you go.
  • Place it on a wire rack and let it stand for about 5-7 minutes. Then unroll, keeping it on the sugared baking paper. Leave it on the wire rack standing on the tea towel to cool completely.

  • Now check your chocolate leaves. If the chocolate has set, then take one leaf in one hand and, very, very slowly and carefully, peel the leaf off the hardened chocolate. Do this over a place or the bowl you melted the chocolate in, so that if the chocolate does snap or break you will be able to salvage the pieces and use them again for melting! 
  • If you do end up with more broken leaves then whole ones, then don't be disheartened - this almost ALWAYS happens to me. Just remelt the shards of chocolate and then reapply them to the holly leaves. It's likely that, if your leaves were too fragile and snapped when you peeled them off the holly, that you weren;t generous enough applying the chocolate. Aim for a thick, even layer of melted chocolate on the back of each leaf. 
  • Make the dark choc ganache by melting the 200g plain chocolate with 200 ml single cream, on a very low heat in a small saucepan. Stir until smooth and then refrigerate for about 1 ½ - 2 hours, checking after 1 ½ hours…you don’t want it very hard, just a nice spreadable consistency.
  • When the gancahe is ready, whip the remaining 200 ml whipping/double cream until it form soft peaks - be careful not to overbeat. 
  • Spread the whipped cream all over the cooled, unrolled sponge. Then reroll the sponge, from the short side as before, and place on a plate. So pretty and it's not even been decorated yet. ;) <3 Take your chocolate ganache and spread it with a palette knife all over the top and sides of the sponge.
  • Finally, stick on all your exquisite chocolate leaves to cover the whole sponge, and then sprinkle over plenty of sifted icing sugar for that gorgeous, snowy effect. And there you have it, a perfect Christmassy treat which looks and tastes absolutely divine. <3 All you need to do now is a. ) decide whether you are going to reveal your secret of how you managed to rustle (heehee ;) ) up a load of real chocolate leaves, And b.)err, well have your cake and eat it, of course.
Happy Christmas everyone :) xxx

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