how-to-Yule-Log.jpgWe have a lot of Christmas traditions at my house. On Christmas Eve we all get new PJ’s, and there’s an Elf that spies on the kids for the month before the big day, just to see if they are behaving. But out of all of these traditions there’s one I would give up all of the others for: the official creation of the holiday Yule log.

Yes there’s just something amazing about this melt-in-your-mouth chocolate dessert that screams Christmas, and although I’m not the best Yule Log decorator by a long shot, getting the perfect bark lines definitely don’t matter when we’re eating it up.

Although most Yule logs follow the same basic recipe, there are some variations you can try. This year I’m trying two different kinds: one from the BBC that’s pretty basic and a tiramisu version. I’m attempting one tomorrow, but wish me luck, because as you’ll see in the picture below, those bark chips are a little difficult to master.

My best advice when making a Yule Log? Don’t skip the parchment paper. it’s difficult if not impossible to remove the cake from the sheet pan if you don’t have parchment paper.


Christmas Chocolate Yule Logyule-log.jpg

There are a lot of basic Yule Log recipes out there, but I’ve settled on this one as my go-to recipe. I like how it uses whip cream for the filling instead of icing, and if you add it, the dash of whiskey really adds a lot of extra kick to each bite. Photo and recipe from BBC Food.

Ingredients:

Oil for greasing pan

150g/5½oz golden caster sugar

6 large eggs

250g/9oz high quality dark chocolate

For the buttercream icing filling

250g/9oz unsalted butter softened

450g/1lb golden icing sugar plus extra for dusting

50g/1¾oz cocoa powder

2 tbsp milk

For the cream filling

400ml/14fl oz double cream whipped

250g/9 oz raspberries

Dash of whiskey (optional)

 

Directions

This Christmas roll can be made two ways: with buttercream icing and festive decorations, or filled with cream and berries.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Line a 23x33cm/9×13 in Swiss roll tin with parchment paper and brush this lightly with oil.

Combine the caster sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and whisk them together until light and thick. Melt the chocolate with 4tbsp cold water in a bowl over a pan of very gently simmering water. When you can see the chocolate has melted until smooth, stir in the sugar and egg mixture.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gently fold a spoonful of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites using a large metal spoon. Do not overmix, and always use a gentle action. Pour the batter gently into the prepared tin and bake for 12-14 minutes (no longer), until risen and just firm to the touch.

Remove to a wire rack and leave to cool in the tin for at least 2 hours.

Once cold, lay a sheet of greaseproof paper on a board. With one bold movement, turn the whole cake onto the sheet of paper, then lift the tin off. Carefully peel away the paper and trim away any scraggy edges of cake.

To make the buttercream icing, beat the butter until soft, then sift in the icing sugar and cocoa. Add the milk and combine together until soft. Spread half the icing over the cake up to the edges.

Roll up as you would a Swiss roll: starting at the long side opposite you, use the paper to roll the cake towards you, around the icing; don’t worry about the cracks. Transfer to a flat serving dish. Carefully spread the remaining icing over the cake (you can pipe the icing if you like). Chill until needed, then decorate with festive decorations and sift over some icing sugar.

To make the cream filling, spread the inverted cake with the whipped cream, scatter over the berries and add a few dribbles of Drambuie, if you like. Carefully roll up as described above. Sift over icing sugar just before serving.

Tiramisu Yule Logtiramisu-yule-log.jpg

If you want to make a Yule Log to give away, this one is your chance to impress. As you can see from the steps, this is not your every day Yule Log, but I’ve had it before and I swear it’s worth the effort. Photo and recipe from Epicurious.com.

Ingredients:

Cake

1/2 cup sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring), plus additional for dusting pan

5 large eggs, separated, left at room temperature for 30 minutes

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Espresso syrup:

1/2 cup espresso or very strong black coffee

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy

Filling:

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy

1/2 cup chilled heavy cream

Ganache:

12 ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Decoration

Meringue mushrooms

Unsweetened cocoa for dusting

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

 

Directions

Make cake:

Heat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter pan and line bottom and sides with 1 sheet of parchment paper. Butter paper and dust with additional flour, knocking out excess.

Beat together yolks, vanilla, and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale and mixture forms a ribbon that takes 2 seconds to dissolve when beaters are lifted, 5 to 8 minutes in a stand mixer or 8 to 12 minutes with a handheld. Sift half of flour over yolks and fold it in gently but thoroughly, then sift and fold in remaining flour.

Beat whites with salt and cream of tartar in a large metal bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Beat in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until whites just hold stiff peaks.

Fold 1/4 of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Stir 1/2 cup batter into melted butter in a small bowl until combined, then fold butter mixture into batter gently but thoroughly. Spread batter evenly in sheet pan and rap once on counter to help eliminate air bubbles.

Bake until top of cake springs back when gently pressed with finger, 7 to 10 minutes.

Sift top of hot cake evenly with confectioners’ sugar and cover cake with a clean kitchen towel (not terry cloth) followed by a baking sheet. Holding sheet and cake pan together with oven mitts, flip cake onto cloth on baking sheet. Carefully peel off and discard parchment paper.

With a long side nearest you and using towel as an aid, roll up cake in towel, jelly-roll style, keeping it wrapped in towel. Cool cake completely, seam-side down in towel, on a rack.

Make espresso syrup:

Bring espresso and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves, then boil until reduced to a scant 1/4 cup. Remove pan from heat and stir in Cognac, then cool to room temperature.

Make filling:

Slowly mix mascarpone, sugar, cinnamon, and Cognac in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. If mixture is very loose after adding sugar, beat mixture briefly to thicken slightly (see Cooks’ notes).

Beat heavy cream in another bowl with same beaters at medium speed until it just holds stiff peaks. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture.

Make ganache:

Put chopped chocolate in a large bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to a boil, then pour over chocolate and let stand 3 minutes. Stir slowly with a whisk until smooth. If bits of chocolate remain unmelted, set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and heat, stirring gently, until completely smooth, and remove from pan. Stir in corn syrup. Chill, stirring a couple of times, until it thickens to an easily spreadable consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Assemble yule log:

Gently unroll cooled cake on a baking sheet, keeping it on towel, then arrange baking sheet so that long side of cake that was inside roll is nearest to you. Brush all of cooled espresso syrup all over surface of cake. Spread filling with offset spatula evenly over cake, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Starting from long side nearest you, roll up cake without towel, leaving it seam-side down on baking sheet. Gently brush off any excess confectioners’ sugar.

Cut a 1 1/2-inch-long diagonal slice from each end of roll and reserve. Transfer cake, using 2 metal slotted spatulas as aids, seam-side down on platter. Using ganache as “glue,” attach end pieces, diagonal sides down, on top and side of log to resemble branches.

Spread ganache all over roll and branches with offset spatula, making it resemble tree bark (see Cooks’ notes).

Arrange a few meringue mushrooms, if using, around Yule log, and very lightly sift a little cocoa over log and mushrooms first, followed by a little confectioners’ sugar to resemble a light dusting of snow.

It’s a chilly night out there tonight so I’ll leave you with another kind of Yule Log. This one might be virtual, but just listening to the crackle will warm you right up.

If you whip up your own Yule Log this year, make sure you share a photo in the comments. And if you need a few supplies to get you started, here’s what I use to create my own Yule Logs.

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A cookie sheet with high sides is best for making Yule logs.
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If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, you’ll love baking with this flex edge beater
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You can get really creative with your Yule Log when you have the Wilton Ultimate Decorating Set

 Main image from PunkyPrincess.com

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