Monday, December 26, 2011

Ispahan Yule Log

       I love Christmas time, with decorated trees, carols and, of course, seasonal sweets. The bakery shops and confectionaries and full of Stolen bread, ginger cookies, light fruit and rich plum cakes and, to the top of it, the most beautiful yule logs. In fact, there are two types of yule logs in France: traditional Christmas ones – also called Bûche de Noël – which are made with chocolate and buttercream; and plain yule logs – also called entremets – which resemble a multi-layered ice cream and have no particular connection with any holiday. One of entremets – Ispahan – got my attention a few months back as I was looking for inspiration for my “Golden key” cake. I saw it on “Not Quite Niqella” blog and, to say true, I was obsessed with the idea of making it since then. No wonder, when the question of cooking something special for the Christmas was raised up, I got an answer to it: Ispahan! Trust a cold dessert fanatic not to love the idea of making an ice cream even in winter! And who cares that it’s not a traditional Bûche de Noël? In the long run, when you live in a country with tropical climate, choosing lychees and fresh berries for a Christmas treat sounds quite logical. So, as I eventually got all the ingredients for Ispahan and what seemed to be the right occasion to cook it, I headed to my kitchen to make this rose-scented, lychee-licious miracle. Should I tell you that the Christmas day lunch ended with a showstopper dessert?

Recipe adapted from Lorraine Elliotе’s blog (


Crème Brulée Insert
115 gm heavy cream
115 gm whole milk
4 egg yolks
25 gm castor sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence

Strawberry puree
100 gm strawberries
2 tbsp icing sugar

White Chocolate Feuillete (Crisp) Insert
100 gm white chocolate
25 gm butter
1 tsp liquid glucose
60 gm Special K cereal, crushed up

Rose Dacquoise Biscuit
80 gm almond meal
50 gm icing sugar
15 gm plain flour
3 egg whites
a few drops of rosewater
50 gm castor sugar

Lychee Mousse
2 egg yolks
17 gm cornstarch
80 gm heavy cream
200 gm lychees, pureed
100 gm castor sugar
5 gm powdered gelatin
3 egg whites

White Chocolate Ganache Insert
50 gm castor sugar
135 gm white chocolate, finely chopped
135 gm heavy cream

White Chocolate Icing
3 gm powdered gelatin
100 gm white chocolate
30 gm unsalted butter
90 gm whole milk
30 gm liquid glucose


  1. For crème-brulee insert, preheat the oven to 160C. Heat milk and cream to just boiling. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla essence. Add the hot milk and cream mixture and whisk till fully incorporated. Pour into a baking dish and bake for half an hour. Let it cool, then cover and transfer to a freezer.
  2. For strawberry puree, blend the strawberries with the icing sugar, strain through a sieve and transfer to a container. Keep in a refrigerator till you need it.
  3. For white chocolate crisp insert, melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Add the liquid glucose and the crushed cereal. Mix quickly and spread the mixture in a thin layer between the two sheets of baking paper. Refrigerate until hard.
  4. For rose dacquoise, preheat the oven to 180C. Mix the almond meal, icing sugar and sifted flour. Beat the egg whites, gradually adding the castor sugar, until stiff. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula. Add rosewater. Spread the batter on a greased baking paper and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. While still hot, cut a small rectangular piece (for the bottom of the yule log) and a bigger rectangular (for the other three sides of it). Line your mould with a bigger rectangular and reserve a smaller one for the final assembly.
  5. For lychee mousse, beat the egg yolks with the cornstarch. Heat the cream and pour a small amount if it over the egg yolks while whisking vigorously. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the rest of the cream in the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens considerably. Let cool, then add the pureed lychees. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until the meringue is thick and glossy. Soften the gelatin in a small amount of cold water and heat gently till it melts. Add it to the lychee cream, then fold in the meringue. Transfer the mousse to a piping bag.
  6. Start assembling the yule log. Spread 1/3 of the lychee mousse on the bottom of the mould lined with dacquoise. Take crème-brulee out of the freezer and cut a rectangular out if it (narrower than your mould). Put it on top of the mousse and press it down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse. Spread the strawberry puree on top of the crème brulee and put the yule log in the freezer till the puree is frozen (otherwise you will probably smear it when you continue to assemble the yule log and the layers will not be so distinct). Pip the second third of the mousse around and on top of the frozen strawberry puree. Cut a rectangular out of white chocolate crisp insert (slightly narrow than your mould so that it can be surrounded by the mousse) and lay it on top. Cover with the remaining mousse and return to the freezer for a few hours till it sets.
  7. For white chocolate ganache insert, make a caramel with castor sugar using a dry method. Heat the cream until boiling, pour it into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the white chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth. Take your yule log out of the freezer and spread the ganache over the frozen mousse. Cover the yule log with the reserved piece of dacquoise.
  8. For white chocolate icing, soften the gelatin in a small amount of cold water. Chop the chocolate and butter and put together in a bowl. Bring milk and liquid glucose to a boil and pour it over the chocolate and butter. Melt the gelatin gently and pour it into the chocolate mixture as well. Whisk until smooth. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), take the yule log out of the freezer and invert it (now the top piece of dacquoise becomes the bottom). Transfer to a wire rack and pour the icing over it. Return to a freezer for at least one hour.
  9. Transfer to a refrigerator ½ hour before the serving time. Using a sharp knife dipped into a hot water cut the sides of the yule log to reveal the layers. Arrange your Ispahan on a serving plate.


  1. You can divide the preparation in 3 days: make crème-brulee, strawberry puree and crisp insert on the first day; the following day make dacquoise, lychee mousse, white chocolate ganache and assemble your yule log; on the serving day cover it with the icing.
  2. The original Ispahan is made with raspberry puree but as I cast a look on a can of raspberries and a bowl of seasonal strawberries, I decided to go for the fresh fruits.
  3. If you want, you can place pink macaroons on the sides of the yule log. I decorated mine only with rose petals. By the way, you will be able to imagine the extent of my obsession with making this dessert if I tell you that when my husband gave me a huge bunch of roses for my birthday my first thought was: “They would look great on Ispahan! Which, I hope, I will make on day!”       


    1. That's a beaut! I love Ispahan roses.
      Merry Christmas.

    2. Wow! That cake looks so elegant! I'm sure it was to die for!


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