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Preheat oven to 375°. Coat an 18x13" rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Line with parchment paper and lightly coat parchment. Place a large kitchen towel (it should be larger than baking sheet) on a flat surface. Whisk equal parts cocoa and powdered sugar in a small bowl and dust towel with cocoa mixture with a fine-mesh sieve.
Sift flour and ¼ cup cocoa powder into a small bowl. Heat chocolate, oil, and vanilla in a medium microwave-safe bowl in 15-second intervals, stirring occasionally, until melted. Let cool slightly.
Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat egg whites and salt in a large bowl until foamy. With motor running, gradually add ⅓ cup granulated sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Using clean beaters, beat egg yolks and ⅓ cup granulated sugar in another large bowl until pale and thick, about 4 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture until no streaks remain, then use a large spatula to fold in meringue, leaving some streaks. Fold in dry ingredients just to combine—be careful not to overmix.
Scrape batter into prepared baking sheet; smooth top (you want to have an even layer). Bake until top of cake is dry and springs back when gently pressed and edges are starting to pull away from sides of baking sheet, 10−12 minutes; let cool slightly.
Run a knife along the edge of baking sheet to loosen and invert cake onto prepared towel. Peel away parchment and roll cake into a log inside towel. Transfer, seam side down, to a wire rack and let sit until just barely warm, about 20 minutes.
Shake remaining 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar and 2 Tbsp. hot water in a jar until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir in Cognac. Unroll cake and brush top with syrup.
Spread whipped cream over top of cake, leaving a 1" border. Roll up cake and place, seam side down, on a platter. Chill until cold, at least 30 minutes.
Dust with powdered sugar and cut into 1" slices just before serving.
Instead of whipped cream, spread Chestnut Mousse over top of cake, leaving a 1" border. Chill until mousse is set, at least 3 hours.
Dust with powdered sugar and cut into 1" slices just before serving.
Do ahead: Roll can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Follow instructions for level 2, but do not dust cake with powdered sugar and slice. Instead, using a serrated knife, trim ½" of cake from both ends. Working from one end, gently slice off a 2" piece of cake, cutting at a 45° angle. Cut another 2" piece from same end, this time cutting perpendicular to roll to create a squared off end. Dab 1 Tbsp. buttercream on angled sides of each 2" piece of roll and stick to cake to form branches, positioning 1 on top and 1 on the side. Using and offset spatula or butter knife, spread chocolate buttercream over entire outside of roll, leaving cut ends exposed to reveal spiral). Use spatula to create textured lines in buttercream to look like tree bark.
Dust with powdered sugar and decorate with meringue mushrooms just before serving.
Do ahead: Buche de Noel (without powdered sugar and mushrooms) can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
This reverse twist on the familiar holiday Yule Log pairs light vanilla sponge cake with chocolate ganache filling that same creamy ganache turns the cake into a pretty forest log, a striking and delicious way to welcome the season. To make the traditional version of this dessert, see our recipe for Classic Bûche de Noël.
Chocolate Ganache Filling
To make the ganache: Place the chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan or in the microwave, until the mixture begins to steam. Pour over the chocolate, let sit for 2 to 3 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature. While the mixture is cooling, make the cake
To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet (half-sheet pan) with parchment paper and spritz the paper with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add 1/3 cup (66g) of the sugar, and continue beating the whites until medium peaks form. Set the whites aside.
In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredients, including the remaining 2/3 cup (133g) of the sugar. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the reserved egg yolks, oil, milk, and vanilla until blended. Beat on medium speed until lightened and pale lemon colored. Add the dry ingredients and continue to mix until smooth, about 1 minute.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a large spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the batter, 1/3 at a time. Use gentle motions to preserve the air in the whites.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake the cake for 10 to 14 minutes or until it's set in the middle and springs back when pressed gently.
Remove the cake from the oven, let it cool in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife. Turn the cake out onto a tea towel lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar and peel off the parchment paper. Allow the cake to rest for 1 to 2 minutes, then roll it up loosely in the towel (starting with a short end) and let it cool completely.
To finish the filling : Once the ganache has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to a mixing bowl and add the salt and vanilla. Using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the ganache on low speed and slowly add the butter in three additions. Once all the butter has been added increase the speed and whip until fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To assemble the cake : Unroll the cooled cake and spread it with approximately 3/4 cup of the filling. Re-roll, and place seam-side down on a serving plate. Use the remaining filling to frost the outside of the roll. If desired, dust with confectioners’ sugar and decorate with candied cranberries or meringue mushrooms.
Serve the cake immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 24 hours. Freeze for longer storage. If refrigerated or frozen, let the cake come to room temperature before serving.
Thanks to feedback from you, our readers, we've retested this recipe and as of October 2019 have made some significant changes, resulting in a much better final product.
To sugar cranberries and leaves for decoration, dip the berries in lightly beaten egg white. Wipe off any extra white and roll in granulated sugar. Set aside on parchment to dry. Use the same technique on edible leaves to add sparkle to your plate.
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.
If you haven&rsquot 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&rsquot 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 &lsquobranch&rsquo 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&rsquos my favorite part.
Melted chocolate is spread onto the cake to act as &lsquoglue&rsquo 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&rsquot it make you want to curl up by the fire and enjoy a slice with a hot cup of homemade eggnog? (recipe below).
Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Butter a 10-by-13 inch jelly roll pan, line it with parchment paper, and butter the paper as well.
Sift the cocoa into a bowl and add the salt. Whisk the eggs and muscovado or brown sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer until the mixture is pale and mousse-like, 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly fold in the cocoa in two additions. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth it using an offset spatula. Give the bottom of the pan a couple of sharp taps on the work surface to eliminate any air bubbles. Bake the cake for 8 to 10 minutes, until set and springy to the touch.
Place a clean kitchen towel on your work surface and sift a fine layer of confectioners’ sugar on the towel. Carefully turn the hot cake onto the towel. Starting at one short end, carefully roll the cake up with the towel and the parchment paper. You should end up with a short, fat roll. Let cool for 40 to 60 minutes.
Gently melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Let cool to room temperature.
Beat the chestnut puree, sugar, and vanilla in a food processor until creamy. Add the cooled chocolate and mix until combined.
Beat the cream until it forms soft peaks, and then gently fold it into the chocolate chestnut mixture in two additions.
Carefully unroll the cake and peel off the parchment paper. Spread the top of the cake with half of the chocolate chestnut mousse, then roll the cake up again and transfer it to a platter, seam facing down. Smooth the rest of the mousse over the exposed surface of the cake. If desired, using the tines of a fork, make lines along its length to replicate tree bark, swirling the ends to create a log effect, and making a few knots on the log, too.
Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour. If keeping it for longer than this, loosely cover the cake with plastic wrap and let set at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
Just before serving, shower the bûche de Noël with confectioners’ sugar.
My bouche was certainly amused eating this delicious dessert! The chocolate chestnut cream filling/frosting is really the star here, but the cake is pretty darned stellar as well. The cake is moist and light, but also slightly dense. It rolls easily and didn’t crack. It retained its shape well and didn’t need any assistance in staying put while cooling. My baking time edged to the 10 minute mark, and I let it cool for more than the hour specified, as it was quite warm when I baked it. When melting the chocolate, I just used the microwave at 30-second intervals until the chocolate was mostly melted and then let the residual heat finish melting the remaining bits. The filling, rolling and frosting of the cake is straightforward enough, and came together without much fuss. Despite the recommendation that the cake is best the day that it’s made, I really thought it benefited from an overnight stint in the fridge. The flavors really melded, and the cake and filling almost fused together in a delicious, moist and ganache-like way. I’d make this the day before I’m planning to serve it and then let it sit out a bit before serving. A winner in my books.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
For cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease paper.
In a bowl, beat yolks with half the sugar on high for 5 minutes. Beat in vanilla and cocoa powder. Pour mixture into another bowl and wash bowl and whisk attachment. In the clean bowl, beat whites with cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Slowly add the rest of the sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form. Fold a third of egg whites into yolk mixture until mostly mixed in. Gently fold in the rest of the whites.
Pour cake batter into prepared pan and bake until cake springs back, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool for 3 minutes. Flip cake onto a clean kitchen towel that has been dusted with cocoa powder. Gently roll the cake while it is still hot. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until cold.
For mousse: Over a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a pan of boiling water (but not touching the water), melt chocolate and butter until completely melted. Turn off heat and leave top of double boiler or bowl in place to keep chocolate warm while you prepare the egg whites.
In a separate bowl, beat whites until stiff but not dry. Add yolks to the warm chocolate mixture. Fold whipped whites into chocolate. Fold in softly whipped cream. Remove cake from refrigerator and unwrap and unroll cake. Spread all of chocolate mousse mixture evenly on top of cake. Roll up cake and filling slowly. Wrap finished cake and place in freezer until mousse is set.
For ganache: When mousse is firm, prepare ganache. Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Bring cream and butter to a rolling boil in a small saucepan. Immediately pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Gently whisk chocolate until smooth.
Remove cake from freezer and unwrap. Carefully spread warm ganache onto cake. Allow the ganache to set for 2 to 3 minutes. While it’s still soft to the touch, use an offset spatula or fork to create “bark” on the “log” by making long strokes on the ganache.
Refrigerate cake until ganache is hardened and set. Keep in fridge and serve cold, within an hour of taking out of the fridge.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat an 18-by-13-inch half sheet pan with cooking spray, and line with parchment paper. Lightly coat parchment with cooking spray. Set aside. Place egg yolks, vanilla, salt, 1/2 cup of the cocoa, and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed, gradually increasing speed to medium-high until mixture is thick and light brown, 2 to 3 minutes total. Set aside.
Beat egg whites in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment (or in a clean mixing bowl using a hand mixer) on medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Add cream of tartar, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add remaining 3/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form, about 3 more minutes. Stir one-third of the egg whites into yolk mixture to lighten. Gently fold in remaining egg whites until just combined. Spread batter in prepared pan, and smooth top.
Bake until cake springs back when touched, 14 to 16 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Working quickly and using a fine-mesh strainer, dust 2 tablespoons of the cocoa evenly over cake. Run a knife along sides of cake invert onto a parchment paper-lined cutting board. Carefully peel off and discard top layer of parchment from cake. Dust remaining 2 tablespoons cocoa evenly over cake. Starting at one short side, carefully and tightly roll up cake along with bottom layer of parchment together. Transfer cake roll to a wire rack, seam side down, and cool completely, about 45 minutes (you&rsquoll remove the parchment later).
Combine all ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment (or in a large mixing bowl). Beat on low speed with the electric mixer, gradually increasing speed to medium-high, until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute (do not over-beat or filling will turn grainy).
Carefully unroll cake. Evenly spread filling over cake, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Starting at 1 short side, reroll cake, peeling parchment back as you go. Place cake, seam side down, on a serving platter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and chill at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Place chocolate, corn syrup, and salt in a medium bowl set aside. Heat heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium, stirring often, until mixture is hot and butter is melted, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour cream mixture over chocolate mixture let stand, undisturbed, for 2 minutes. Stir until mixture is smooth and chocolate is melted. Cool at room temperature until thick and spreadable, about 2 hours. Do not chill.
Using a serrated knife, trim about 1/4 inch from each end of the cake roll, exposing the filling. Cut a 2 1/2-inch piece of cake from one end. With cake piece still lying on its side, cut it in half diagonally, creating two wedges. Stir Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting until smooth. Spread about 1 tablespoon frosting onto diagonal cut side of each cake wedhe, and arrange each wedge in a different position on top of the cake roll, pressing to adhere and create branch &ldquostumps.&rdquo Using a small offset spatula, spread about 2 tablespoons frosting around base of each stump to adhere to log. Chill cake, uncovered, until frosting has hardened, about 20 minutes. If desired, stir almonds into remaining frosting. Using an offset spatula, spread remaining frosting over log and stumps, leaving ends exposed. Serve Bûche de Noël immediately, or chill, loosely covered with plastic wrap, up to 12 hours. If chilled, let cake stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
To serve, dust cake lightly with powdered sugar to resemble snow. Garnish log and individual servings with Meringue Mushrooms.
This grand dessert is a descendant of the medieval subtlety—food disguised to look like something else. Here, chocolate cake masquerades as the traditional yule log for a long winter’s night. Although making the log look realistic can be challenging, even a simple approach is great fun to make and delightful to serve on a holiday evening.
Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line a jelly roll pan with greased parchment paper. Lay a clean kitchen towel flat on a work surface dust with confectioners’ sugar and set aside. Place egg whites in a small bowl and set aside. Place egg yolks in a large bowl and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add half of sugar, beating until thick and lighter in color, about 5 minutes. Gradually add flour, cocoa and salt beat until well blended. Beat egg whites on medium speed until foamy add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in remaining sugar, 1 T (12 g) at a time, beating on high until stiff peaks form. Transfer ¼ of egg whites into yolks, stirring just to combine. Gently fold in remaining egg whites until blended. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake 12 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly pressed in center (do not overbake). Cool only 3 minutes, loosen sides with a small knife and invert onto prepared kitchen towel. Peel off parchment paper loosely roll cake up in towel beginning with a short side. Let cool.
Filling: Place cream in a large bowl beat until it begins to thicken. Add confectioners’ sugar and coffee granules continue beating until stiff peaks form. Cover chill.
Frosting: Place all frosting ingredients in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
Meringue Mushrooms: Preheat oven to 200°F (93°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fit a pastry bag with a large plain round pastry tip (#6) set aside. Place egg whites in a medium bowl and beat at medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, then increase speed to high beating until stiff and glossy and fill piping bag. To make mushroom caps: pipe half of mixture onto prepared baking sheet into flattened balls in a variety of sizes ½ inch (13 mm) to 1½ inches (38 mm) across, smoothing tops with dampened fingers. For stems, pipe meringue into a variety of cone shapes 1 to 2 inches (50 mm) high. Reserve leftover meringue. Bake about 1 hour or until firm to touch. Remove from oven and, using a small knife, puncture a depression into bottom of each mushroom cap. Dab a bit of leftover meringue inside depression and “glue” the small ends of stems into caps. Bake an additional 20 minutes. Let cool and store airtight up to 2 weeks.
Frost Cake: When cake is completely cool, unroll and spread filling to within ½ inch (13 mm) of edge re-roll. Place on serving platter (or foil-covered cardboard if freezing) and frost cake. Use a fork to make shallow squiggly lines down length of “log.” Chill until ready to serve or freeze.
Assembly: Dust tops of mushrooms with cocoa powder and decorate “log” with them sift on confectioners’ sugar “snow.”
Note: For convenience, the cake can be made up to 10 days in advance and frozen. Just wait until the frosting has hardened, then wrap the cake well in plastic wrap and freeze. To serve, remove wrap, place on a serving tray, decorate with mushrooms and confectioners’ sugar, and let thaw for 1 hour.
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 to 5 tablespoons light corn syrup
Red and green food coloring
Cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar, for finishing