Tis the season for strawberry Yule Logs and Rocher chocolates

A nice course of dessert is like a happy ending to a movie. You finish a meal with a taste of sweetness between your teeth, a smile on your face, and warmth in the heart.

It is Christmas time, an occasion to indulge yourself with fine cuisine. Besides main courses such as ham or turkey, don’t forget to reward yourself with something sweet before you touch your slightly bulgy tummy and decide your stomach is full.

The French feel they’re missing something if they don’t finish a meal with dessert. Laurent Delcourt, Pastry Chef at Grand Formosa Regent is definitely one believer in that notion. Born in Normandie, France, Delcourt started his culinary career in his early twenties. He first worked in the Middle East, then moved to China, and later to Taiwan 3.5 years ago. This coming Christmas, he will present Rocher Chocolate and Strawberry Christmas Log for gourmets who are looking for sweet treats during the holidays.

Delcourt said baking for Christmas is different because this is when people get together with their families again.
“We cook everything at home for Christmas,” he said, “home cooking may differ from family to family, but goose liver, chocolate, and Yule Log are the minimum for everyone.”

Strawberry Yule Log

In French Christmas tradition, Yule Log, a log embellished with flowers and candles is put in the centre of the table as a decoration. As time went by, Yule Log has become the name of a traditional French pastry.
“I use strawberries as Yule Log filling because they are in season in Taiwan during Christmas time,” said Delcourt during an interview with the Taiwan News on November 13.
“We always look for what is Taiwanese, and we try to cater to Taiwanese tastes; tiramisu or chocolate with chestnuts is more in line with the French taste.”
Delcourt’s Strawberry Christmas Log consists of hazelnut chiffon cake, whipped cream mixed with strawberry juice, and fresh strawberries.
During his demonstration of how to put together these ingredients, the chiffon and cream is pre-made since it takes time to bake and whip; a sheet of plastic wrap is placed under the chiffon to make it into a roll later.

“When you clean the strawberries, it is important to keep the green leaves until you eat it,” he said while he pared the leaves off, “so as to preserve its flavor. This is a small and simple tip yet one very few people know of.”

For the Yule Log filling, Delcourt poured some strawberry juice on the fresh strawberries and the cream before spreading a layer of strawberry cream on the chiffon.

Only experienced hands could transform everything into a roll and Chef Delcourt did it with the swift movements of an expert. It was like watching someone make a Japanese sushi roll, except the Yule Log was bigger and fluffier.

Delcourt dressed the roll’s surface with some more strawberry cream, to give it a snow-like effect. As a final step, he put a plastic Christmas tree and snow man next to the fresh strawberries, on top of the log.

Voila! A mouthwatering Strawberry Yule Log is made.

Rocher chocolate

To make a quick, simple, yet delicious dessert, rocher chocolate is the option. All you need is 100 grams of dark chocolate, 50 grams of roasted almond, 100-200 grams of unsweetened corn flakes, and half an orange to add some flavor.

“You melt the chocolate in the microwave ten seconds at a time for five times,” said Delcourt, “go slowly and don’t make the chocolate too hot nor too cold."

The first step is to crush the almonds and mix them with the corn flakes. Shave the skin of the orange to add a fresh zest. Pour the melted chocolate paste onto the mixture and divide it into bite sizes with a spoon, and then put them into the fridge. Delcourt demonstrated the entire procedure before presenting the outcome — about a half dozen delectable rocher chocolates.

“Rocher chocolate is pretty easy for most people to make at home,” he said.

Traveling through different cities while baking for people in different cultures and traditions, Delcourt couldn’t imagine living his professional life outside of France until he took the opportunity to move to Syria when he worked for a hotel owned by Air France.
“If I travel, I always look for somewhere new to go,” he said, “I am not scared of adventures.”

Speaking of how he got started cooking, Delcourt said that at fourteen years old, he already knew he was going to pursue culinary art as his life career.

“My mom took me to visit the inside of a pastry shop so I could see what was really going on,” he said, “from that moment I knew this was what I wanted to do.”

“For me, the major attraction is to create something new; it takes time but really exciting.”

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