Christmas has crept up behind me and kicked me in the baubles and now I find I don’t have the time to bake the usual British classics we all know and love. Just because I’ve left it too late to make and mature a Christmas pudding and cake, it doesn’t mean this year’s table can’t sparkle with the spirit of Christmas cheer.
2012 is the year I’ve decided to go continental, with a Bûche de Nöel taking centre stage. This will, undoubtedly, come as a blessed relief to my nephews, who are yet to warm to the boozy, rich and hearty indulgence of my Victorian Christmas pudding. Once the brandy flame puffs out, all interest is entirely lost and they’re asking if there’s any mint choc chip ice cream instead.
With any luck, this year’s more child-friendly chocolate and chestnut offering will keep their minds off the freezer contents, by diverting their attention to my meringue mushrooms instead. Mint choc chip might well be delicious, especially when stirred for long enough to make ice cream soup, but festive it ain’t.
Don’t be scared of rolling up the log, if it looks less than neat, you can always mask mistakes by being more liberal with the chocolate ganache coating than originally planned. It’s one of those jobs where a gung-ho attitude will fare you better than any amount of measured caution.
The mushrooms are ever so slightly fiddly, but are cute enough to be worth the effort. And come on, it is Christmas after all, so some boats ought to be pushed out, even if you have left them in the dock until the eleventh hour. As well as the meringue mushrooms, I adorned my Yule log with some washed and dried clippings from the Christmas tree, but sprigs of fresh rosemary will look equally enticing.
It’s best, though not essential, to make the meringues the night before so they have time to properly dry out.