Modern French Pastry

Modern French Pastry: Innovative Techniques, Tools and Design by Cheryl Wakerhauser is not your grandmother’s pastry cookbook. In the world of cookbook reviews, the word unique gets flung about like spun sugar, but I swear on my stack of vintage French tart pans – this title is unique and exciting. 

Cheryl Wakerhauser is the owner of Pix Pâtisserie in Portland, Oregon and has been serving both innovative and traditional French desserts, chocolates and house made ice creams alongside a variety of top notch beverages since 2001. Cheryl trained at the prestigious pâtisserie of MOF Philippe URRACA (this training translates to major pastry cred). A frequent visitor to France and Spain, she returns to soak up the atmosphere, culture, flavors and techniques associated with French pastry, Spanish tapas and the tasty beverages they drink with them. She then recreates these dishes and drinks back home at Pix. 

In Modern French Pastry, Cheryl focuses on modern pastries that are elegant and show stopping. Recipes include a Concerto, a beautiful mini tart that contains components of coffee cream, fleur de sel caramel, coffee caramel glaze, phyllo decor with a chocolate almond dough. While there are multiple components to the Concerto, each one in itself is doable and the end result is spectacular. I want to find the time to recreate these stunning desserts. The bûche de noël jingled my bells and I ordered a mold to create it. Yes, Virginia, there will be a bûche de noël on our Christmas table this year as I have faith in Cheryl’s detailed instructions.

Measurements are given by weights in grams, including liquid measurements (you need a scale), the author doles out parlor tricks (look for the P A R L O R   T R I C K! tan boxes of text) that provide tips and shortcuts, and each dessert is given a “Difficulty” rating from a half macaron (Level 1) to three macarons (Level 6). 

Special thanks to the author and Page Street Publishing for sharing this jaw dropping dessert with our members today and for offering three copies of Modern French Pastry to our members in the US. Eat Your Books is offering one copy worldwide (excluding the US) – so a total of four winners. Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter! 


Not your grandmother’s bûche de noël
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Nor Martha Stewart’s, for that matter.

We’ve all seen the bûches de noël attempting to disguise themselves as pieces of wood (page 31). They are cute, sure. But the modern bûche is sexy.

The bûche de noël here is soft and silky, with a base of chocolate mousse hiding a festive cannoli filling and brandied cherries. There is a bit of chocolate cake along the bottom to hold everything together, and a brilliantly shiny chocolate glaze covering the top. 

For this recipe, you will need a bûche de noël mold 50 centimeters (20 in) long and 9 centimeters (3.5 in) wide and a demisphere polycarbonate mold to make the ornaments. If you do not want to invest in a bûche de noël mold, you could make your own with a poster tube from the post office (see Assembly, page 149).

YIELD: 10 servings (2 bûches de noël of 5 servings each) 

Chocolate biscuit

  • 120 g egg yolks
  • 185 g egg whites
  • 68 g sugar
  • 50 g cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a half sheet pan with a silicone baking mat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks on high speed until they are thick and pale in color, about 5 minutes. Transfer the yolks to a bigger bowl with a larger surface area on top.

Prepare a French meringue (see page 191) with the egg whites and sugar, whisking to soft peak. Add half of the meringue to the yolks and gently fold to combine. Sift half of the cocoa onto the batter in a thin layer covering the top. Gently fold the cocoa into the batter. Repeat with the rest of the meringue and then the rest of the cocoa, being careful not to overmix. Ideally, if you have a helper in the kitchen, have the person continually sift the cocoa over the batter while you continually fold.

Spread evenly onto the half sheet pan, using an offset spatula. Bake until cake is dry to the touch and feels firm, about 12 to 14 minutes.

Cannoli filling

  • 2 g (scant 1/2 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 10 g cold water
  • 50 g cream cheese
  • 265 g ricotta cheese
  • 50 g powdered sugar
  • 1 g (½ tsp) ground cinnamon
  • 2 g orange zest
  • 5 g (1 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 25 g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 10 g Cointreau

In a large, microwave-safe bowl, combine the gelatin with the cold water and stir well to dissolve. Let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom.

In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the cream cheese and ricotta on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Sift the powdered sugar and add it, plus all the remaining filling ingredients, except the Cointreau and gelatin, to the cheese mixture. Mix until combined, about 20 seconds.

Melt the gelatin on low in the microwave. Swirl the bowl to stir the gelatin every 30 seconds, until it is completely melted. While stirring, add the Cointreau to the gelatin. Then add a fourth of the cheese mixture, continuing to stir. Add the remaining cheese mixture, stir to combine and place in the refrigerator.

Chocolate glaze

  • 95 g heavy cream
  • 115 g water
  • 145 g sugar
  • 48 g dark alkalized cocoa powder
  • 5 g powdered gelatin
  • 25 g cold water

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, water and sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Bring the mixture back to a boil and then strain it into a bowl. Allow to cool.

In a small bowl, combine the gelatin with the cold water and stir well to dissolve. Let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom.

When the glaze reaches 140°F (60°C), add the gelatin mixture and gently combine with an immersion blender. Refrigerate.

Chocolate mousse

  • 500 g heavy cream
  • 90 g egg yolks
  • 90 g honey
  • 185 g milk chocolate
  • 125 g dark chocolate

In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the cream to very soft peak and allow it to come to room temperature. Make sure the cream is still at very soft peak just before using, as sometimes a liquid portion will sink out to the bottom of the bowl. If that happens, whisk it by hand very briefly until it comes back together.

Place the egg yolks in a separate mixer bowl. Bring the honey to a full boil. While whisking on low speed, pour the hot honey down the side of the bowl being careful not to let it hit the whisk. Increase the speed to high and whisk until the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm, about 5 minutes. The cooled egg mixture, known as the pâte à bombe in French pastry-making, should be pale and thick.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave on low, stirring often.

Pour the pâte à bombe into a bowl large, shallow bowl. Pour all the melted chocolate onto the pâte à bombe. With a bowl scraper, stir the two together very quickly, starting in the center and then incorporating the rest. Once the mixture looks homogenous, quickly stir in one-third of the cream until evenly mixed, then fold in the remaining cream. The whole mixing process should take about 30 seconds or less. Use immediately (see Assembly, page 149).

A note about mixing: The melted chocolate in the recipe will want to set up very quickly. It is imperative that you mix the pâte à bombe and the chocolate together quickly, and then add just one-third of the cream (at room temperature) to incorporate and loosen the chocolate pâte à bombe mixture. The rest of the cream should then incorporate well when added. If your cream is too cold or you do not mix fast enough, the chocolate will set up into small bits in the mousse. This will result in a mousse with chocolate pieces floating in it as well as a mousse lacking the chocolate flavor it should have.

Chocolate ornaments

  • Green cocoa butter, as needed
  • Gold luster dust, as needed
  • Red cocoa butter, as needed
  • 800 g dark chocolate

Warm the green and red colored cocoa butters to 90 to 93°F (32 to 34°C). Wearing latex gloves, use your finger to smear a swirl of green cocoa butter in the cavities of demisphere polycarbonate molds. Once the cocoa butter is dry, about 3 minutes, smear each cavity with some of the gold luster dust. Follow with a smear of red cocoa butter.

Temper the chocolate in the microwave (see Techniques, page 190). Pour the chocolate into the mold to fill all the cavities. Tap the mold on the edge of the counter fast and vigorously for a few seconds to release any air bubbles. Flip the mold upside down, holding it over a piece of parchment. Tap the side of the mold with a wide metal scraper to get rid of the excess chocolate. Scrape the top of the mold smooth and place it upside down on a clean piece of parchment.

After 1 minute, lift up the mold and scrape the top clean with the metal scraper. Place it right side up in the refrigerator to chill for 5 minutes, to set the chocolate. Repeat with the second mold. Remove the molds from the refrigerator and let sit for another 10 minutes.

Slide half of the demispheres out of the mold. Heat the metal scraper with a propane torch. Holding the demisphere flat on the surface of the scraper, melt the edges. Piece the melted edges together with the edges of one of the demispheres still in the mold. Continue until all the spheres are complete.

 PARLOR TRICK! If you have a pancake griddle, you can turn that on low and use it to melt the ornament edges. This way you won’t have to keep reheating the metal scraper.


  • 200 g brandied cherries
  • 40 g pistachios, finely chopped

Strain the cherries and reserve the juice.

Line a bûche de noël mold with a piece of parchment. The parchment should cover the whole interior and hang over the sides. Unmold the chocolate cake and cut 8-centimeter (3-in) strips from it. You will need enough 8-centimeter (3-in)-wide cake strips to cover the bottom of the mold, or 50 centimeters (20 in) total. If you made your own mold (see Parlor Trick!), cut the cake into narrower 6.25-centimeter (2.5-in) strips.

Prepare the chocolate mousse and pipe it in the mold to fill halfway. With a 1.5-centimeter (0.6-in) open piping tip, pipe a line of cannoli filling lengthwise down the center. Place the cherries, one by one, touching each other, in a line on top of the cannoli filling. Add more mousse to fill the mold 2 centimeters (0.75 in) from the top. Lay the cake on top of the mousse and press it gently until it is just below the top of the mold. Brush the cake with the reserved juice from the cherries. Freeze overnight.

Remove the bûche from the mold by lifting up the edges of parchment paper. If the bûche sticks on the ends, warm them with a propane torch or simply wait a few minutes for the edges to thaw. If you made your own mold, remove the plastic wrap on the ends and slide the bûche out of the tube. Remove the parchment and place the bûche flat side down on a clean piece of parchment.

Warm the chocolate glaze in the microwave to 90°F (32°C) and pour it over the entire bûche. Using a large offset spatula and your hand as a guide, lift up the bûche and place it on a large, clean piece of parchment. Cut the bûche in half and then trim the ends that have glaze on them. Press chopped pistachios 2 centimeters (1 in) up the sides. Using a large offset spatula, lift each bûche off the parchment and place them onto cake boards or platters. Top the bûche with the chocolate ornaments.

PARLOR TRICK! Purchase a 7.5-centimeter (3-in)-diameter poster tube from the post office to make your own bûche de noël mold. Using a utility knife, cut the tube down to 50 centimeters (20 in) long. Then, draw a straight line down the tube from one end to the other. From this line, measure 7.5 centimeters (3 in) around the circumference and draw a parallel line down the tube. Cut out this section with the utility knife. Tape plastic wrap on the ends to close them off. A bûche de noël mold is curved with straight sides toward the bottom. This makeshift mold will have a bit of curvature on the bottom. When you line it with parchment, crease the parchment back at the edges so it does not get in your way when filling.


The publisher is offering copies three copies of this book to EYB Members in the US and EYB is offering one copy worldwide (outside the US). One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won’t be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on January 11th, 2018.

Post a comment


  • rchesser  on  November 30, 2017

    The Chocolate pandemonium sounds heavenly.

  • Kristjudy  on  November 30, 2017

    When life gives you lemons.

  • kmn4  on  November 30, 2017

    Beer float 🙂

  • contest718  on  November 30, 2017


  • sdg8trgrl  on  November 30, 2017

    Blue Cheese Truffles. Sounds intriguing!

  • jr0717  on  November 30, 2017

    The royale would be my first creation!

  • heyjude  on  December 1, 2017

    Spanish Coffee

  • AnnaZed  on  December 1, 2017

    I want to make Rabelo, whatever that is, it's made with figs!

  • zwetschgen  on  December 1, 2017

    Oh man, that Spanish Coffee

  • sarahawker  on  December 1, 2017

    Chocolate pandemonium

  • AGENT99  on  December 1, 2017

    It's that time of year – Bûche de Noël

  • Angryyew  on  December 1, 2017

    Going to go with the Bûche de Noël since it's that time of year.

  • Littlebirdchoc  on  December 1, 2017

    Bye Bye Pumpkin Pie – PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!

  • lpatterson412  on  December 1, 2017

    Strawberry Fields!

  • kitchenclimbers  on  December 1, 2017

    blue cheese truffles

  • sherrib  on  December 1, 2017

    Spanish Coffee!

  • jaelsne  on  December 1, 2017

    going bananas. I love anything made with bananas.

  • RoseMGenuine  on  December 1, 2017

    Earl grey napoleons.

  • t.t  on  December 2, 2017

    Chocolate & churros, Frenchie style!

  • milgwimper  on  December 2, 2017

    spanish coffee!

  • jc214a  on  December 2, 2017

    I love the names for all of the recipes. I would try "Concerto".

  • lhudson  on  December 2, 2017

    Strawberry fields

  • BakedbyBrookeMS  on  December 2, 2017

    They ALL sound amazing, but if I have to pick one I would start with the Rabelo, I have gallon bags full of figs from my fig trees I've been dying to try something new with!

  • matag  on  December 2, 2017

    Miniature bourbon éclairs

  • antpantsii  on  December 2, 2017

    Pity the fool. For Mister T

  • mpdeb98  on  December 3, 2017

    Strawberry fields

  • RSW  on  December 3, 2017

    The Oregon get down

  • lindaeatsherbooks  on  December 4, 2017

    I would like to try making the Bûche de Noël, just in time for Christmas.

  • sgump  on  December 4, 2017

    Jerez it is for me–but how about the names of these recipes!

  • wjsisung  on  December 4, 2017

    Going bananas

  • LaurenE  on  December 4, 2017

    blue cheese truffles

  • Uhmandanicole  on  December 5, 2017


  • rglo820  on  December 5, 2017

    The Cha-Cha!

  • sipa  on  December 7, 2017


  • daniellespinato1  on  December 7, 2017

    The Cha-Cha sounds great!

  • Siegal  on  December 8, 2017

    I want to make chocolate and churros

  • skipeterson  on  December 8, 2017


  • Dannausc  on  December 10, 2017

    Cherry bomb

  • kelliwinter  on  December 10, 2017

    Oregon Getdown, I don't care what it might be, I just love the name!

  • nadiam1000  on  December 11, 2017

    when life gives you lemons

  • Senkimekia  on  December 12, 2017

    Spanish coffee

  • miggy1  on  December 12, 2017

    Ricky Ricardo… just because of the name

  • Katiefayhutson  on  December 13, 2017

    Strawberry fields

  • JuneHawk  on  December 13, 2017

    Moulin Rouge

  • Moo  on  December 15, 2017

    chocolate nougatine

  • Julia  on  December 15, 2017

    Blue cheese truffles

  • Juli  on  December 15, 2017

    Fascinating index…first I think I would try the raspberry almond tea cakes. Thanks for offering this book worldwide!

  • percussion03  on  December 15, 2017

    Bunche de noel

  • biro  on  December 16, 2017


  • luccio  on  December 16, 2017

    As a musician, it would have to be 'Concerto' – (although, I am left wondering just what does 'Bastille' look like….?!)

  • stitchan  on  December 16, 2017

    Bye, bye pumpkin pie

  • love2laf  on  December 16, 2017

    grandmother's bûche de noël or at least the mousse component.

  • Mmmouthfuls  on  December 16, 2017

    Grandmother's buche de noel!!

  • lucystew  on  December 16, 2017

    Oh, my gosh, I've never tackled any recipes like these! I'm enamored with the chocolate ornaments though – gorgeous!! I would have to give them a try.

  • AngelaLCooks  on  December 16, 2017

    Chocolate and churros, Frenchie style

  • rosiedunningham  on  December 16, 2017

    The blue cheese truffles…how intriguing! Rosie x

  • BMeyer  on  December 16, 2017

    buche de noel

  • jd5761  on  December 17, 2017

    Chocolate pandemonium for me

  • tennyogirl  on  December 17, 2017

    Pistachio Picnic Cake

  • RickPearson54  on  December 18, 2017


  • klrclark  on  December 18, 2017

    Chocolate & churros, Frenchie style! My daughter loves churros.

  • Mattcheffin  on  December 19, 2017

    Cherry bomb!

  • AislinnMcD  on  December 20, 2017

    Well for the week that's in it, I would have to go with a Buche de Noel. I think it's time to improve on the traditional "Chocolate buttercream scraped with a fork" lumpy horror.

  • mfl  on  December 20, 2017

    Pistachio picnic cake, to eat with my mom who loves pistachios

  • chimpbob  on  December 20, 2017

    Strawberry Fields

  • ltsuk  on  December 21, 2017

    raspberry almond tea cakes

  • LMS209  on  December 27, 2017

    chocolate nougatine

  • mihaela_d  on  December 29, 2017

    Raspberry almond tea cakes

  • Sandiegolemons  on  December 29, 2017

    I pity the fool!

    Great names…from the A Team TV series Mr.T

  • silversand  on  December 30, 2017

    Spanish Coffee 🙂

  • EmilyR  on  January 1, 2018

    Chocolate & churros, Frenchie style

  • leilx  on  January 1, 2018

    Bye bye pumpkin pie. I’m looking for something new in that area.

  • Sfgordon  on  January 2, 2018

    I would try the Daddy Mac.

  • Aproporpoise  on  January 2, 2018

    The blue cheese truffles!!

  • iza27  on  January 3, 2018

    lemon poppy seed macarons!

  • Little2bird  on  January 4, 2018

    I would definitely say…."Not your grandmother's bûche de noël". I love them!, all different kinds ❤️

  • sberes  on  January 4, 2018

    A moment of zen!

  • Scotsman61  on  January 6, 2018

    Not your grandmother's bûche de noël

  • cherie  on  January 6, 2018


  • jmay42066  on  January 7, 2018

    Chocolate pandemonium

  • SilverSage  on  January 7, 2018

    The moment of Zen looks beautiful. I want to make it first.

  • VeryVigario  on  January 7, 2018

    I pity the fool lol

  • lauraw192  on  January 7, 2018


  • hibeez  on  January 8, 2018

    Going bananas!!

  • jifar  on  January 8, 2018

    Raspberry almond teacakes

  • Karla123  on  January 8, 2018

    When life gives you lemons!

  • Lijstjesmeisje  on  January 9, 2018

    Get the door! Pedro's here. 😀

  • bettinab  on  January 9, 2018

    Blue cheese truffles

  • MCRossi  on  January 9, 2018

    The Confetti entremet looks fun to make!

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!