Amused by a spruce mousse buche

We had as much fun saying the name of Molly’s Christmas dessert this year as we had eating it (and I’m pretty sure I ate more of it than anyone).

This year, she combined her love of baking and trees with her passion for foraging and came up with a Buche de Noel that included a filling made with fresh cream she flavored with spruce cone jam.

It didn’t take us long to realize she had whipped up a Spruce Mousse Buche, which rolls off the tongue amusingly when your Christmas has not been ideal and you need a little giggle. Spruce Mousse Buche. Saying it is kind of like a party game all by itself.

With its chocolate ganache and Dutch cocoa cake, Molly’s yule log made us all smile and scrape our plates clean.

I have learned to silence my skepticism when Molly describes her concoctions.

“I’ve been using spruce cone jam recently and I think it will be perfect for the Buche de Noel this year,” she said as she discussed her plans for Christmas.

She went on to describe a process by which she collected actual pine cones from spruce trees. (“They’re really soft and kind of mushy when they’re young.”) Then, she boiled the cones, let them sit, and boiled them again. She made the resulting, well, mush might be the right word, into jam and then dissolved the jam into cream.

I absolutely understood and appreciated her #onbrand dedication and, if I’m understanding the word correctly, a yule log flavored by a tree also seemed very meta. But, I worried the dessert I look forward to all year might taste a little piney and that I’d spend Christmas Eve picking bits of cone out of my teeth.

Boy, was I wrong.

That yule log was absolutely delicious. Three cheers for the spruce mousse buche!

Our refrigerator always looks like a laboratory when Molly’s in the house.

“What’s this?” I asked as I moved an old jar labeled raspberry jam that actually contained a dark brown liquid.

“Oh, that’s hackberry milk,” Molly said. “It’s one of the few fruits that stay on the tree in the winter. It has kind of a prune flavor with a pit in the middle. You grind the fruit and nut together and it tastes really sweet.”

I’m kind of looking forward to seeing where that hackberry milk lands.

I like to support Molly’s endeavors because she’s my kid and I love her, but also because her experiments generally result in the kind of deliciousness that makes you pause for a minute to let your mouth absorb all the flavors.

I can’t wait to see what she bakes up next.

She wasn’t as happy with her spiral as she was in years past, but we all agreed that Molly’s spruce mousse buche was really delicious and I thought it was beautiful.
I took a Christmas Eve walk with our bookends, Charlie and Molly,
During which Molly pointed out a tree I’ve walked past a thousand times but never really noticed. This is a beechnut tree, a rare find and one that will produce a nice crop of nuts in the fall. (I also produced a nice crop of nuts and I’m already looking forward to the next time I get to spend with them.)
One of my nuts and I have differing views on this piece of art. Charlie calls it Appleton’s Eiffel Tower. I think it looks like an angry old man yelling at kids on his lawn (except he has no mouth).
Another of my nuts, Vinnie, cooked our Christmas tenderloin this year. He reverse seared it and it was incredibly good.

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