The Yule log (also known as a bûche de Noël in France and French-Canada) is a traditional dessert served around the Christmas holiday. Chocolate cake with a whipped cream filling is rolled and decorated with chocolate bark for a very festive treat.
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. 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, 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?
For the cake:
- 4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated, room temperature
- 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Small pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup strong brewed coffee
- 8 ounces semi-sweet dark chocolate, 60 %
For the bark:
- 6 ounces semi-sweet dark chocolate, 60%
For the filling:
- 1 cup whipping cream, cold
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- For the cake:
- Line a 15-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.
- 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 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.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 707 Saturated Fat: 26g Cholesterol: 165mg Sodium: 117mg Carbohydrates: 63g Protein: 11g