What better to get you into the festive spirit than a little Christmas baking? Light chocolate sponge, buttery chocolate icing and whipped cream. It’s the perfect thing to finish off your Christmas feast with.
If you’ve got a lot of people coming over, we’d recommend making double the recipe so that you can make an extra long log. Decorate with a spring of fresh holly and a dusting of icing sugar and you’re on to a festive showstopper.
Where go chocolate yule logs originate from?
A Yule log, or bûche de Noël, is a traditional dessert served during the festive season. As the name suggests, it is of French origin and translates as “Christmas log” referring to the traditional tradition of burning a yule log to welcome the winter solstice at the end of December.
They are often served with one end cut off to resemble a chopped branch and are traditionally decorated with mushrooms made from marzipan or meringue. A bark-like texture is often created by dragging a fork through the icing, and powdered sugar sprinkled to resemble snow.
For our own yule log recipe, we opted for a simple approach – a dusting of icing sugar (and a sprig of fresh holly if you have some) is all you need to complete its wintery perfection.
300g dark chocolate (around 35-40% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
For the cream filling
300ml double cream, whipped
Fresh sprigs of holly
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until they make thick peaks. Still whisking, sprinkle in 50g of the caster sugar and continue whisking until the whites are holding their peaks.
In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining caster sugar until the mixture is pale and mousse-like. Add the vanilla extract, sieve the cocoa powder over, then fold both in.
Fold in a few spoons of the egg whites into the yolk mixture. Then add the remaining whites in thirds, folding them in carefully to avoid losing the air.
Line a Swiss roll tin with baking paper, leaving a generous overhang at the ends and sides.
Pour in the cake mixture and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool a little before turning it out onto another piece of baking parchment. If you dust this piece of parchment with a little icing sugar it may help with preventing stickage (any tears can be covered by icing later!)
Cut a score mark 2.5cm/1in in along one of the longer edges. Starting with this edge, begin to tightly roll up the sponge using the paper. Roll with the paper inside and sit the roll on top of its outside edge to cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, make the ganache topping. Heat the cream in a pan, just so as you can keep your finger in it. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring until melted. Cool to room temperature, then put into the fridge to firm up (this icing needs to be very thick for piping).
Uncurl the cold Swiss roll and remove the paper. Spread the whipped cream on top, and re-roll tightly. Cut a quarter of the cake off from the end on the diagonal. Transfer the large piece of cake to a serving plate and angle the cut end in to the middle of the large cake to make a branch.
Put the chocolate icing into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Pipe long thick lines along the cake, covering the cake completely so it looks like the bark of a tree. Cover each end with icing or, if you wish to see the cream (like we did), leave un-iced. Alternatively, just use a knife to spread on the icing and create rough bark texture with a fork.
Dust with icing sugar and garnish with fresh holly.