A buche de Noel, the traditional French dessert served after Christmas dinner, can be a big undertaking. But when you break it down into steps, it is quite simple to make. I propose that you do one step each day until Christmas (starting tomorrow). The unusual ingredients you will need, in addition to those probably already in your kitchen (flour, unsalted butter, sugar, and eggs) are: cocoa, dark chocolate, marzipan, food colorants in red and green, coffee or orange liqueur, powdered sugar, and parchment paper.
On the first day of buche de Noel, you will make buttercream.
The buttercream recipe was inspired by a Laduree one and appeared in Saveur magazine:
12 oz. semisweet chocolate
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
2⁄3 cup heavy cream
Melt chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water over medium-low heat, whisking often. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cream [you can do this with a mixer].
Transfer to a medium bowl and cool completely in the refrigerator before covering tightly with plastic wrap.
Stay tuned for step two tomorrow!