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Cannoli Bûche de Noël

Servings: 12
Author: Roseanne Carrara, The Lunchbox Season

Ingredients

Heavenly Chocolate Jelly Roll

  • 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1/3 c cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 room temperature eggs separated
  • 1/4 c sugar to be added to the beaten egg yolks
  • 1/2 c sugar to be added to the soft peaked egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 c water
  • a mix of cocoa powder and icing sugar & a clean kitchen towel for rolling the cake

Boozy Syrup [Optional]

  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1/4 c rum brandy, or (non-creamed) spirit of choice

Cannoli Cream Filling

  • 15-16 oz container of Ricotta Cheese strained if runny. I used light ricotta and strained it for only an hour in fine mesh sieve over a bowl.
  • 3/4 c icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp organic lemon or orange extract [optional]
  • 1/2-1 c semi-sweet mini chocolate chips OR shaved/finely diced semi-sweet chocolate I used 1/2 c of bits from a dark chocolate bar I pulsed like crazy in the food processor and I saved the rest for garnish.

Chocolate Mascarpone Icing [Omit Chocolate for Vanilla Option]

  • 16 oz Cold Mascarpone Cheese [2 of the small tubs]
  • 3/4 + cup icing sugar
  • 1/4 c milk or cream
  • 1 tbs vanilla
  • 4 oz unsweeted chocolate melted and cooled! Omit for Vanilla Version.

Additional Optional Decor

  • icing sugar
  • diced pistachios or other nuts
  • fresh or toasted coconut shredded or flaked

Make-Ahead Meringue Mushrooms [Not pictured]

  • 2 egg whites room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
  • 2 tsp cocoa for dusting [optional]

Instructions

Heavenly Chocolate Jelly Roll & Construction

  • Heat oven to 375.
  • Grease a 15x10x1 baking or jelly roll pan.
  • Line it with a waxed paper rectangle cut 1/2 inch smaller than the pan (14×9).
  • Grease the paper.
  • Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl or onto another sheet of waxed paper.
  • In a mixer or in a bowl, by hand, beat eggs yolks and vanilla until thick and yellow.
  • Add the 1/4 c sugar and beat on high until dissolved.
  • Set the mixture aside in a clean bowl.
  • Wash the mixer bowl and beaters.
  • Beat the egg whites on medium until soft peaks form.
  • Add the 1/2 cup sugar slowly and beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold the egg yolk mixture into the beaten egg white mixture quickly with the mixer or with a spatula.
  • Quickly, but gently, by the quarter cup, alternate adding in the flour mixture and the water, just incorporating with a spatula.
  • Spread batter into the pan as evenly as possible and smooth as much as possible with a flat spoon or icing spreader.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes until centre springs back when pressed lightly with a fingertip.
  • While the cake is baking, dust a large clean tea towel generously with icing sugar.
  • Remove baked cake from oven and immediately loosen edges of the cake from the side of the pan with a knife. [The cake may look a bit bubbly or even mountainous! No worries! It will flatten out with the folding, anyway!]
  • While the cake is still warm, invert the pan onto the clean towel dusted generously with icing sugar.
  • Peel off waxed paper.
  • Gently roll the wider length of cake jelly roll style in towel. You want a long slim roll, not a short, thick one.
  • Cool rolled and wrapped cake completely on a wire rack. [You can store the cake like this for up to one day or re-roll the cake in wax paper, wrap wax-paper-rolled cake in foil and freeze for 2-3 weeks.]
  • While the cake is cooling, prepare the Optional Boozy Soak, the Cannoli Cream Filling and the Chocolate Mascarpone Icing. You may also prepare the Make-Ahead Mushrooms, if desired, if you haven't done so already.
  • Gently unroll the cake.
  • Using a pastry or basting-style brush, spread the Boozy Soak generously onto the [inside] surface of the roll cake. [I only use about 1/16 of a cup of the syrup.]
  • Spread the inside/top surface of the unrolled cake with the Cannoli Cream Filling.
  • Gently re-roll the cake.
  • Cut a 1/2in-or-thicker slice from the ends of the cake roll to use as knots on the cake. If you just want a festive jelly roll, move on to step 26.
  • Place the larger rolled cake on a serving plate.
  • Use Chocolate Mascarpone Icing to attach the "knots" to the cake roll.
  • [Optional] Take a small bit of icing and “dirty ice” the cake with a thin layer of icing and let cake sit in the refrigerator for a while.
  • Frost cake roll with remaining Chocolate Mascarpone Icing. You do not have to ice the open ends and open knots of the cake. This is a bit tricky, but can be done with a clean icing spreader.
  • If desired, use the tines of a fork or an icing spatula to make the icing look like realistic “bark.”
  • If desired, sprinkle the ends of the roll and/or the knots/limbs with chopped pistachios, or flaked or toasted coconut.
  • If desired, dust with icing sugar.
  • If desired, decorate with Meringue Mushrooms.
  • Chill until 10-20 minutes before serving time.

Boozy Syrup [Optional]

  • Place the sugar and water in a small pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  • You do not need to boil this.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add alcohol.

Cannoli Cream Filling

  • Beat the sugar and ricotta until smooth.
  • Incorporate the vanilla and optional citrus extract.
  • Incorporate up to 1 c chocolate or chips to taste.

Chocolate Mascarpone Icing [Omit Chocolate for a Vanilla Version]

  • Beat the cheese, sugar, and vanilla on high until incorporated.
  • For the Chocolate version, incorporate the cooled melted chocolate.
  • Gradually, add the milk or cream 1 tbs at a time until the icing becomes as spreadable as you would like.
  • You may also add additional icing sugar if desired. [I added an additional 1/4 c icing sugar to my most recent batch to balance out the bitterness of the chocolate].
  • Refrigerate until ready to use.Ice exterior or rolled, filled cake.

Make-Ahead Meringue Mushrooms [Not pictured]

  • Heat oven to 200.
  • Line two large cookie sheets with parchment.
  • Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form.
  • Increase speed and, one tablespoon at a time, sprinkle in the sugar until the sugar dissolves and the meringue forms stiff peaks. It will be thick and shiny, a cross between marshmallow fluff and taffy.
  • Attach a 1/2-inch round tip to a pastry bag or ziploc bag.
  • Fill the bag halfway with meringue and make an equal number of caps and stems, as described in the next two steps.
  • For the mushroom caps, squeeze meringue into 1.5-in rounds, pulling off to the side to avoid pointy tips.
  • For the stems, hold pastry bag upright and squeeze out meringue, creating either an elongated cylinder or a "kiss" shape with a fairly pointy tip, about an inch tall.
  • Place the sheeet sin the oven and bake for approximately 2 hours, until firm but not brown. You'll want to rotate the sheets at the first and third half hour and swap them at the 1 hour point.
  • Let the caps and tips stand for a few moments on the cookie sheets.
  • Then, remove the mushrooms on their parchment to wire racks to cool completely.
  • When the mushrooms are cool, you may store them in pieces in a spacious air-tight container or assemble right away.
  • To assemble, melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over boiling water or in slow bursts at half-power in the microwave.
  • OPTION A: Carefully make a small indentation in the centre underside of each mushroom cap with the back of a spoon or the tip of a knife. Working one at a time, fill the hollow in a cap with about a 1/4 teaspoon of melted chocolate. Then, press the top of a stem into the indentation. If possible, cool cap-side down on a tray until the seal is firm.
  • OPTION B: Coat the undersides of the caps with a bit of chocolate. With snips or a sharp knife, cut off any of the pointy "tips" of the stems you might have made. Use additional chocolate to attach the stems to the caps. Cool completely until the seal is firm.
  • [Optional] Place the cocoa in a tea ball or fine mesh strainer and censor it over the meringue shapes.
  • Store in a dry, air-tight container until ready to use.

Notes

*Note: If you're having trouble getting soft peaks, try incorporating 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar in your egg whites.
This recipe is an amended form of a version I published on my previous website, The Lunchbox Season. That version used 1/2 c of cake flour in place of the all-purpose flour, 1/4 c cocoa powder, and omitted the baking soda and the water in the jelly roll portion of the recipe.
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