One of the nicest parts of Christmas when I was young, apart from all the presents Santa brought, was when my maternal grandmother (Nonna Ines) prepared the Christmas lunch for all the family. In those days we were a large, loud, happy family, and Nonna would prepare roast turkey, roast ham, veggies, with all the trimmings.
Dessert however, unlike the traditional Christmas fare usually found in an English household would consist of her speciality the Buche. I have no idea how long it’s been a family tradition, but I would expect it has been passed down the generations. La Buche is basically a chestnut and chocolate log which is cooked in the fridge – the longer you leave it the better, but three days is usually more than enough [and it can be frozen to have another day]. For anyone who loves chestnuts, chocolate, and cream then this dessert is for you:
La Buche (Chestnut Christmas Log)
Ingredients: 1 tin (2 tins if preparing for 8 or more people) – Chestnut Puree
11/2 cups unsalted butter
1 jar chocolate or hazelnut spread
1 cup castor sugar (or to taste)
1 cap brandy (optional – but recommended)
Thickened Cream Strawberries or other fruit of choice
- Place contents of chestnut puree in mixing bowl and cut into small pieces.
- Add 1 cup of unsalted butter, brandy and sugar and mix together until it forms a smooth paste
- Dampen calico or linen cloth in COLD water and spread out on work bench.
- Place chestnut mixture on cloth and using a spatula spread out to form large square about 0.5 cm thickness.
- Place contents of chocolate spread into mixing bowl with remaining butter and blend together until smooth.
- Pour chocolate on top of chestnut layer and spread out evenly.
- Then taking the edge of the cloth in each hand, very gently “flip” the chestnut and chocolate layers so that the whole thing forms a roll.
- Keep the roll wrapped in the damp cloth and carefully transfer to a flat dish or tray and place in the fridge for a minimum of TWO days prior to being used.
- To test if ready, gently touch it. If it is firm to the touch, it is ready to eat.
- Remove from fridge and carefully unwrap cloth.
- Place Buche on a flat dish.
- Cut off ends in a diagonal angle with a sharp knife to expose the “Swiss-roll” effect.
- Spread whipped cream over Buche and top with strawberries or cherries.
**NOTE** the cake is extremely rich, so it is advisable to offer a small slice. Should not be consumed if allergic to nuts.
On the subject of the Chestnut Puree you can usually find it at speciality delicatessens – this year I found it at Caesars Café at Erina on the Central Coast. You can order it on line if it’s too far to get there: http://www.caesarscoffee.com.au/search?q=chestnut+puree
Finally, I would take this opportunity in wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.