As any blogger knows, July is the time when all the big brands roll out their Christmas ranges. This year, along with invitations to various supermarket Christmas ranges, was one that stood out. An invitation to visit The Shard to try twelve Christmas buches, each made with Valrhona chocolate.
Each bûche de Noël (that’s a fancy Yule log, if you’re wondering) was designed and made by a top pastry chefs from some of London’s most prestigious hotels and restaurants. You may not have heard of some of these chefs, but they are the unsung heroes that produce some of the most wonderful desserts in the country.
Lucky invitees were invited to The Shard to try each of the bûche and spend some time chatting to the pastry chefs who made them.
Without exception, every one of the bûches was beautiful. Many, many hours of hard work and planning had gone into their creation, and it was a real privilege to be able to spend time talking to their creators.
Given the quality and amount of work that went into these magnificent creations, I think it’s only fair that I name all the chefs involved. They were Loic Carbonnet (The Four Seasons), Luke Frost (Coworth Park), Lewis Wilson (The Ritz), Denis Drame – (Pennyhill Park), Joseph Wagenaar (The Andaz), Sarah Barber (ME London), John Grantham (Restaurant 61), Cherish Finden (The Langham), Eric Rousseau (Patisserie Belle Epoque), Regis Negrier (The Delauney), Mourad Khiat (The Berkeley), Ryan Thompson (The Shangi La) and Andrew Blas (Café Royal).
Now, I know what you’re going to ask: Which one was my favourite? That’s a tough one. With so many different interpretations of the theme and such an array of flavours, it’s very hard to choose. They really are all winners.
In terms of presentation, Cherish Finden’s “Magic By Moonlight” (above) was simply stunning. Consisting of four mini-buches arranged sideways against a moonlight scene, it was made with Valrhona Caramelia mousse and rolled inside a moist Valrhona Kalingo sponge with crunchy praline.
But if I had to pick just one winner, then it would probably be Sarah Barber’s Black Forest Bûche Noel (pictured above). Made with Valrhona’s Manjari Madagascan chocolate and all the flavours of a black forest gateaux, this particular creation was as beautiful and indulgent as it looks, and a wonderful alternative to a traditional cake.
If you fancy trying one of these creations for yourself, the good news is that every one of them is going to be on sale as limited editions in their respective hotels and restaurants this Christmas. So if you really want to impress someone this Christmas, now is the time to start planning! Which one would you choose?
Valrhona have descriptions and photos of all the bûches on their Facebook page.
Huge thanks to Valrhona and all the pastry chefs for letting us come and try your creations. And if you’re reading this… can we come and play in your kitchen now??