Monthly Archives: December 2012

Festive Roulade

This holiday season my husband requested a buche de noel for our Christmas Eve festivities. I always like to try new baking projects so I was excited to give this a shot. I settled on this chocolate chestnut roulade recipe.

When baking (or cooking really I’m a stickler for following directions) I follow the Julia Child belief that measurements are very important. So I got my husband’s brewing scale out and measured my chocolate.


My other main concern was that the recipe called for caster sugar. At first I thought that might just be a British term for regular granulated sugar but I wanted to be sure. Turns out caster sugar is a super-fine sugar that falls somewhere between granulated and powdered (icing) sugar. The local grocery store did not have caster sugar and I’m not crazy about buying ingredients that I might not use again. Some online searching revealed that you can spin granulated sugar around in the food processor a few times to make it more fine and that is usually sufficient. So that’s what I did. I measured the sugar before and after just to be safe.


The recipe called for plain chocolate with less than 50% cocoa solids. We used Ghirardelli semi-sweet and milk chocolate bars mixed together. As you see below, it’s very important to use a double boiler when melting chocolate – do not apply chocolate directly to the heat.


Using my stand mixer ( I love this thing, it has completely transformed baking for me) I beat the egg yolks, sugar, and then the melted chocolate together.


We do not own a jelly roll pan. I found this cookie sheet that fit the length and width specified in the recipe but was unsure about the depth. Especially once I poured this batter in and it went to the tip top of the pan. So I placed a larger pan underneath in case it rose above the edges – I’m glad I did!


After the cake finished baking and was cooling, I made the filling. We couldn’t find a chestnut puree at the grocery store so we had to make our own. Fortunately we were able to find precooked and shelled chestnuts which we pureed with some sugar.


The finished product! I was very nervous while rolling and couldn’t stop to take pictures. I was very glad for years of observing a baker make pumpkin rolls at the bakery I worked at in college! In the end it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. The recipe called for chocolate holly leaves but instead I melted the remaining chocolate, spread it onto parchment paper and let it set. Then I took mini holiday cookie cutters and pressed them into the chocolate – leaving the indents. I set it outside to cool again and once the chocolate completely hardened broke the shapes out – ta da!

I hope everyone else had a wonderful and delicious holiday! Do you have any traditional foods you make every year or do you like to try out new recipes too?


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Winter Displays

I love the holiday season at home and at work.

At my school we have 10-week terms and a new one started this week so it has been really busy. But I didn’t let that stop me from putting up some holiday cheer in the library, bookstore, and tutoring room that are my domain.

My main concern when decorating this year is not to create a feeling of exclusion for those who observe other (or no) holidays. So I try to incorporate a range of colors, and focus more on winter than specific holidays.

I found this stocking in a drawer from a previous librarian (I assume). As a school the employees have an annual stocking decorating competition. I am guessing this is from a previous year and since this is a school-sanctioned activity I thought it would be an appropriate decoration in the library.

Dewey Stocking


To be more general, I created a Winter Bucket List display – prominently featuring Read a GOOD BOOK. Although we’re just starting a term, our students will have from Saturday December 22 – Wednesday January 3 off so I am trying to get them to check out some “fun” books to enjoy during that time.

Good Books


At home I choose my most beautiful books and wrap them in glittery ribbon for holiday decorations and thought the same idea would be neutral enough in the library. I chose purple ribbon because that’s our school color. The sleigh is left-over from a present last year but I filled it with candy.

Happy Holidays table

A wider view of some of the bookshelves with the stocking, holiday table, and evergreen garland. Since I put this up my student workers have joined the holiday spirit and made beautiful glitter-painted snowflakes that adorn the shelves and walls everywhere.

Holiday Library


What sort of winter/holiday decorations do you do at home or at work?

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