The Yule log (also known as a bûche de Noël in France and French-Canada) is a traditional dessert served around the Christmas holiday.
This stunning holiday dessert is simply a sheet chocolate cake rolled with a whipped cream filling and decorated with chocolate shards to emulate bark for a very festive treat.
A video demonstration of how to make the shards/bark is attached to this post.
My favorite subject in school was home economics and cooking day was the day I looked forward to the most. At Christmas we always made a themed dish and the first Christmas recipe I made was a Yule log.
I remember thinking how proud I was of myself at my masterpiece and when I brought it home my mother displayed it proudly as the centerpiece for the Christmas dinner table.
Many years on, I still like to make the Yule log, but with a few updates. To enhance the flavor of the chocolate in the cake and the chocolate that is on the outside.
Coffee in chocolate cake
If you haven’t tried using brewed coffee in your chocolate cakes, muffins, cupcakes or frosting, I urge you to give it a try. Coffee enhances the chocolate flavor and makes it, well, just more chocolatey.
There are a few steps involved in the making and putting together of this Yule Log (Bûche de Noël), but don’t be deterred. If you can bake a cake, you can pull off this dessert, I promise.
The cake ingredients are mixed and fluffy, whipped egg whites are folded in. Once the cake is baked, it is rolled up while still warm in a towel, this helps prevent cracking.
Once cooled, the whipped cream filling is spread onto the unrolled cake and it is then rolled up again. A small part of the cake is added to make a small ‘branch’ on the side of the log.
To create the bark effect, melted chocolate is spread thinly onto parchment paper then rolled up and refrigerated. When the paper is unrolled, the chocolate cracks and this creates the bark, that’s my favorite part.
Melted chocolate is spread onto the cake to act as ‘glue’ and the bark chocolate pieces are stuck on. Finally, powdered sugar is lightly dusted over the log for a festive snowy effect.
This Yule log makes a stunning centerpiece for any Christmas table, just like it did when I was a kid. Doesn’t it make you want to curl up by the fire and enjoy a slice with a hot cup of homemade eggnog? (recipe below).
Chocolate cake with a whipped cream filling is rolled and decorated with chocolate bark for a very festive treat.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
For the cake:
4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated, room temperature
1/2 cup (100 grams) plus 1/3 cup (68 grams) granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (75 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (34 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Small pinch of salt
1/3 cup (78 ml) strong brewed coffee
8 ounces (230 grams) semi-sweet dark chocolate, 60 %
For the bark:
6 ounces (170 grams) semi-sweet dark chocolate, 60%
For the filling:
1 cup (236 ml) whipping cream, cold
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup (34 grams) powdered sugar
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F177°C.
For the cake:
Line a 15 x 11-inch baking sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper leaving excess paper over the edges to lift the cake out of the pan.
Beat egg whites with an electric mixer, set on high speed, in a large bowl until stiff peaks form.
Add 1/2 cup sugar, one tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form.
In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla with an electric mixer set on medium speed for 3 minutes; gradually add the remaining sugar. Beat for 2 minutes or until thickened and lemon-colored.
Stir flour with cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gently fold the flour mix into egg yolk mixture alternately with coffee just until mixture is smooth..
Gently fold chocolate mixture into egg whites; spread batter evenly in prepared pan.
Bake for 15 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in the center.
Using the paper, gently lift the cake from the pan and onto a board or cooling rack.
Lay a clean linen towel over cake and a cooling rack or large cutting board on top and flip the cake onto the board so the towel is under the cake. Dust with powdered sugar so the cake doesn't stick to itself.
Optional: Cut a 1.5-inch piece from the end of the cake to make the 'branch' that you see in the pictures.
Immediately roll cake in towel starting at the narrow end. Place on a wire rack and cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, melt the 6 ounces chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 20 second increments, stirring between until melted.
For the bark:
Take a large piece of parchment paper and spread a thin, even layer of melted chocolate.
Roll the paper tightly and refrigerate.
For the filling:
Using an electric beater, whip the whipped cream and vanilla until it starts to thicken.
Add the powdered sugar in small amounts until the cream is thick.
To assemble the cake:
Carefully unroll the cooled cake and cut off 1 inch strip from the long end of the cake for the extra branch.
Spread the whipped cream evenly onto the large and small cake pieces.
Roll both the large and small cakes with the seam-side down.
Cut the 'branch' at an angle so it sits flush against the cake.
Place both cakes on the surface where they will stay because once it's decorated it's very hard to move.
Remove the rolled up chocolate in parchment paper from the fridge.
Unroll the paper and the chocolate will break into bark pieces. Place in a bowl and refrigerate.
Once the cakes are placed, melt the chocolate in the same way as before in the microwave.
Working in small areas, spread a little of the 8 ounces of melted chocolate onto the log and place the chocolate bark pieces in a non-uniform manner until the entire cake and branch is covered.
Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar to emulate snow.
72 Comments on “Yule Log (Bûche de Noël)”
Although I did just make a comment 5 minutes ago, I will add more to it. I have always loved the look of the Buche de Noel, but never tried it till this Christmas. I know I could improve on ” my time” next time. I have calls for repeats. The cake looked so pretty I literally did not want to cut it, but I had little people hovering, begging me for a piece, I was so pleased with the look and it is a delicious cake. I loved your tip on how to make chocolate curls-excellent! One more top , please: Do you heat your knife to cut it, so the chocolate doesn’t break or crumble, or perhaps you have a sharper knife. I truly felt like a pastry chef. Thank you for the experience. Vicki Davies B.C.
Thank you so much for the feedback. I would not use a hot knife to cut as it would melt the curls. I like to remove a few where I’m going to cut then place them on the plate with the slice so you can enjoy them with a bite of the log.
I am only having luck finding 56% semi-sweet dark chocolate. Would that work?
Yes, that is perfectly fine. Milk chocolate will work too. Enjoy.
I made this for Xmas Eve, and it was much easier than I thought it would be. The hardest part for me was unrolling the cake from the towel after it cooled. It did start to break when I re-rolled it with the cream, but it held together and wasn’t noticeable after decorating it. I have a daughter with a serious nut allergy, so we can’t eat any specialty bakery items like this, and have to make them ourselves. I used Baker’s brand semi sweet chocolate, which was only 56% cacao, and had to add some leftover Baker’s German chocolate that is only 48% to have enough, and the bark turned out great. I spread it a little too thin, but it was sturdy enough after unrolling and freezing it, and it tasted really good. I could have spread the chocolate all over the cake before adhering the bark, as the process was easy and quick, and may have been easier than doing smaller portions at a time. I did have extra chocolate left over, so if you could use less than what the recipe calls for. For garnish, I used dusted powdered sugar, rosemary sprigs, and sugared cranberries. It is a small cake, and very delicious, so I would suggest making two for a group larger than six. Thank you so much for giving us this amazing recipe. I wish I could attach a picture, because it was so beautiful!
Thank you for such an informed review.
Can you taste the coffee in this recipe? And if so if you left the coffee out does it make it dry? Or can I substitute something in its place?
You do not taste the coffee at all, it just enhances the flavor of the chocolate. If you want to leave it out, you can substitute the same amount of buttermilk, or any dairy or non-dairy milk of your choosing
Thank you for this recipe!! It is the first Buche De Noel I have ever made or eaten but it was a massive hit with my family. It turns out my mom has always been intrigued by them so everyone was happy. The entire dessert was well balanced and not too sweet.
At the last minute I added a touch of peppermint extract to the filling and 1 crushed candy cane before rolling it up. Not enough to overpower, just a hint of peppermint. The filling was amazing before the additions though.
Thank you so much for the great feedback and I’m so happy it was a hit. I love the addition of the peppermint, I’ll have to try that.
I was wondering what size pan you´r using. I´m going to make this cake for 20 people, so do you recommend that I make two logs or one big? And if one big, what size pan should I use?
I used a 15-inch baking sheet for the cake. Depending on the thickness of the slices you would get around 8 per log. I would recommend making 2 because I think it may be difficult dealing with anything larger. I hope this helps and you enjoy the cake.
Does the chocolate for the log and bark have sugar in it? It seems like it should have a sweet chocolate instead of unsweetened. Looks really nice.
Hi Susan, thank you for your question. I use 60% dark chocolate in both the cake and the bark, which is called semi-sweet. The cake/log also has granulated sugar in it to add more sweetness. Thanks for stopping by.
I made the cake and it broke when I unrolled it from the towel. I didn’t wait until it was 100% cool, do you think that’s why it broke? It was also thicker than your pictures. Thanks – I should mention that although my cake looks terrible it still tastes good lol.
Hi Erin, I’m sorry that the cake didn’t turn out as you had hoped. I think the thickness of the cake did have something to do with the cracking. I’m glad that it tasted good. You took on a hefty project and I thank you for trying my recipe and stopping by. I hope you make it again with great success.
I have made this today and am very impressed. Could this be frozen .
I’m so glad you made the yule log and I are happy with the results. I have not tried to freeze it, but I think it would be better to freeze it without the chocolate bark and decorate it once it defrosts as I’m not sure how the chocolate would do being frozen them defrosted. I hope this helps
I am trying this recipe for my daughter’s class, do you think the coffee will be too much for the kids (3rd grade)? Does it have a strong coffee taste? Thank you
Hi Rebecca, I like to add the coffee to enhance the flavor of the chocolate. I would recommend leaving it out in case you end up with a class full of very energetic 3rd graders 🙂
Thank you so much for your wonderful recipe! I made it for my Christmas party this past Saturday as I served authentic Christmas foods from around the world. Everyone sang its praises! I have a beautiful picture of it, but there is nowhere to share it! Once again, thank you for sharing!
Thank you so much Vicki, I’m so glad it was a hit. I have sent you an email if you would like to send me the pic, I’d love to see it.
I would love to make this on Christmas this year. I only have one question for the chocolate on top, could you use Ganache to paste the bark on this cake?
Thank you for your question about the Yule log. I would not use ganache as it does not set. The chocolate serves as a ‘glue’ to keep the bark shavings in place and I don’t think ganache would do this very well. I hope this helps and I hope you make the Yule log.
I have finished! I must say I am so glad I didn’t omit the coffee. It is the most tasty cake ever! My decorating has room for improvement but overall it looks pretty awesome. I am proud to be taking this cake to Christmas dinner.
I think it may be a little sickening eating the chocolate on top with the cake, but I might just scrape that off when the time comes. Overall awesome and fun to make. I look forward to doing it again next year with the experience behind me.
Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Yay Carolyn I’m so glad you like it. There is something about adding coffee to chocolate that just makes it taste better. Happy Holidays!
Hi Ann, the recipe requires only 4 eggs (the first ingredient listed). I’m not sure where you are seeing 6 eggs. Thanks!
Me again. Can I omit the coffee?
You can, but you need to replace the 1/3 cup with another liquid, maybe water or the cake will be too dry.
I’ll stick with the coffee. Here I go…
I was asking about the cake. In an abundance of caution I sprayed the pan and the parchment lightly. I just took it out of the oven. I started to check the cake every 2 minutes once it hit 7 minutes. Because if overdone they break and can be impossible to roll. I will refrigerate and fill on Friday.. I have been through Buche de Noel travails over the years. For many years I used theJulia Child recipe. It’s difficult. Your recipe is perfect. I didn’t have to trim dry ends as is usual. I did use confectioners sugar both on the cake and towel. I am putting together my second one. Thank you for posting it.
You like my recipe over Julia Childs, what a compliment! Thank you Roseanna for the great feedback and I hope everyone enjoys your Yule logs.
You do not butter the parchment or spray it with anything so it won’t stick?
Hi Roseanna. Parchment paper is used for the cake and the chocolate bark and you did not say which your question was about, but it did not stick to the cake or the chocolate for me. Thank you for your question.
I am wanting to do this for Christmas this year. Can you please help me with what it is I could do in advance? For example, could I make the bark and the sponge part in advance and leave it in the fridge for a day and assemble on Christmas morning? Any time would be much appreciated.
Hi Carolyn, I think making the whole thing in advance is not advisable since you’ve never made it before you don’t want any surprises Christmas morning in case something goes wrong.
I’m making it right now and serving it on Saturday which is 2 days away. Can I refrigerate it totally made and keep it or will that not work?
Hi Carol, I highly recommend making it as soon as you can to allow for any mistakes or mishaps. It will keep well in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 1 week. Enjoy!
Hi Cindy, I saw that too. A little glitch in my recipe software, all fixed now. Thank you 🙂
Girl, you are quick, lol! Merry Christmas!!
What is the 8oz of dark chocolate for at the end of the cake ingredients? I can’t find where it uses it in the directions.
Hi Carley, that is for step 26, it is to help the bark stick to the cake. I’ve edited so it’s reads better. Thank you for stopping by.
If I wanted to make a vanilla cake log could I just omit the cocoa powder and coffee? Would I need to add a different liquid to replace the coffee? Thanks
Hi Patti, I think omitting the cocoa would work just fine and replace the 1/3 cup coffee with water. Please let me know how it turns out.
Very good and way easier than it appears. The hardest part is putting the “bark” on. I found it easier to spread the chocolate on half the log and let it cool for a minute and then put the chocolate pieces on. If the melted chocolate is to hot it will melt the bark pieces.
Thank you so much for this Samantha. I found the bark the hardest part too.
This looks awesome and I am making it today and can’t wait to see how it turns out. The reason I choose this one is because I love the bark idea and the coffee going in.
Rob, I’m glad you chose to make my recipe. Please come back and tell me how it went.
I can’t wait to make our yule log this year. My family is from Belgium and it is tradition for us to make this on Christmas Eve.
How stunning! My mum used to make a yule log every year – I must bring back the tradition!
Perfect log for the holidays! It looks so elegant too!
i’ve never seen the bark so realistic, it’s beautiful!
This is so perfect! I love how you made the ‘bark’ and snow look on the is yule log. Fantastic!
Janette…your Buche de Noel is truly a work of art! Just in time for the holidays!
What a stunning cake Janette! Almost too pretty to dig into, but for the sake of trying I wouldn’t pass up a slice! 🙂
Wow Janette! This Yule Log looks totally amazing and that bark – simply wow again! This would be such a huge star on any Christmas dessert table – I love it!!!
Jokingly (or so I hope) it was suggested I make a Buche de noel for an upcoming sponsored post. I am so glad I didn’t entertain that notion. This is one of the best versions I have seen yet. You did a stunning job.
This is a beautiful cake…almost too pretty to eat.
This is absolutely beautiful Janette! You could make this cake the table centerpiece before serving it.
This is so beautiful I have always wanted to make one for the holidays!
Wow, this is such an impressive cake! I love that you added chocolate “bark” too.
It is a beautiful dessert! Looks so delicious ! I like to add brewed coffee to chocolate cakes I bake, I feel coffee enhances the chocolate flavor.
You are amazingly creative. I just how you made the bark so realistic. This is a beautiful dessert. Perfect of holiday entertaining.
I grew up in Canada and so I had many Christmases there. I don’t ever remember seeing one of these! I’m sure i missed out and I need to remedy this by making one myself – how gorgeous is this cake!!!
This is fantastic, I made my first one last year and it was so much fun!! Your yule log will bring much joy to many!!
My Mother-in-law makes this every Christmas but hers is not as pretty as yours so glad to know how to make the bark!
Thank you Kelley
Mmmm….coffee and chocolate is always at the top my list for flavor combinations! This is such a gorgeous dessert and the way you created the bark is incredible! This would be stunning on anyone’s holiday table.
Looks so delicious! Love cake rolls! Pinning immediately!
Wow this looks so impressive! Definitely table centerpiece worthy. 🙂 And delicious I’m sure.
Janette, this looks beautiful. How perfect for the holidays.
This is stunningly beautiful! And I bet it’s delicious! Happy Holidays to you and yours, may you be safe and happy!