(I started this post before Christmas! Whoops! Better late than never??)
We celebrated Christmas early this year with Ryan’s famliy, and I wanted to make a special dessert that the kids would like too. I have always wanted to make a Buche de Noel, or Yule Log, which is a traditional French cake that is rolled up and decorated to look like a log.
Julia Childs has a hilariously amazing (as usual) episode where she makes one.
I used a recipe from JoyofBaking.com for the cake and filling, and then frosted it with a simple chocolate buttercream (recipe coming soon!).
And here we go!
Start with 6 eggs.
While they are still cold (which makes this a lot easier!) separate them.
Whites. See that little sliver of yolk in there? You aren’t supposed to do that. Whoops.
Cover the two bowls and let them come to room temperature (about 3o minutes). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan with cooking spray, and then lay parchment paper over the top. I sprayed the top of the parchment paper with cooking spray too. I really didn’t want the cake to stick.
While everything is getting ready, chop up 4 oz. of chocolate.
4 oz. is just one of those big bars that are in the baking section of the grocery store. I got a semi-sweet one, but you could definitely use a milk chocolate or even a really dark chocolate (yum!).
Chop up that chocolate. Melt it over a double boiler, or in the microwave (only in 30 second increments!) if you are lazy like me. Once it’s melted, let it cool to room temperature.
This is where things get wild.
Using your mixer with the paddle attachment, combine 1/4 cup of sugar with the egg yolks and beat until light and fluffy.
In old fashioned cookbooks they will say beat until ribbons form, which just means that if you take the paddle out and lift it up, it will look like ribbons are dripping down. Just let it run for about 5 minutes and you will be just fine.
Beat in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla.
Keep scraping the sides of the bowls. Add the chocolate and beat until just combined.
Put this chocolate mixture into another bowl and wash and dry your mixing bowl. Unless you have two mixing bowls. But that’s just fancy! Make sure it’s completely dry before you begin this next part!
With the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add 3/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form.
That’s what it will look like. Now add 2 Tablespoons of sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form.
There we go.
Now fold the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture. That just means stir it together softly until everything is incorporated. Be gentle! You don’t want to deflate the whites. Actually I was probably too gentle, but it turned out just fine.
Spread onto the parchment covered pan and bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes, or until it’s lost it’s shine, and bounces pack when you touch it.
While it’s baking, you can whip up the filling. I did a chocolate whipped cream, as the recipe suggested, but you could do a number of things.
For the chocolate whipped cream, I just beat (with whisk attachment) 1 cup of whipping cream, 1 teaspoon of good vanilla extract, 3 TB of sugar, and 2 TB of unsweetened cocoa powder until stiff peaks formed. You could definitely do just a basic whipped cream, or add some bourbon to jazz it up. I think even jam would be good inside of this cake. Sky’s the limit.
Once the cake has cooled, remove the cake from the pan (keep it on the parchment!) and spread your whipped cream on the top. Save a bit for assembling the log (reserve about 2 TB at least)
Now is the fun part! Take one edge and gently roll up the cake, using the parchment paper to keep things together as you roll.
Now it’s time to decorate!
Cut off the edges with a serrated knife on an angle, and attach (with the reserved whipped cream) to look like a log.
You can see how the cake looks swirly! That’s because I didn’t fold in the egg whites as well as I should have. Whoops. No one noticed though, because I covered the entire thing in chocolate buttercream frosting (recipe coming soon!).
I stuck the unfrosted cake in the fridge as a made the frosting, which really helped firm it up and made it easier to frost. I wanted it to have grooves like a log, so I used a tiny spatula.
And then used a fork to give it grooves.
I dusted a bit of powdered sugar on top to make it look like snow. Fun!
Ryan really liked it. Ha.
This cake was actually not that sweet – probably because I used semisweet chocolate. I really liked it not sweet, and because the frosting was really really sweet, it offset nicely. Oh, and this is totally gluten free!
Next time I’ll attempt meringue mushrooms to go with it!
Happy belated holidays!
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