A bûche de Noël or Yule Log is a classic French Christmas cake. This cake combines very soft cake, light as air whipped cream and a rich chocolate ganache to make a pretty perfect Christmas dessert. For the frosting you can either make the chocolate ganache, the chocolate mocha frosting or just simply dust the cake with icing sugar. The light chocolate sponge cake recipe comes from Martha Stewart, with a couple of tweaks.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting*:
¾ cup (177mL) 35% whipping cream
6 oz (170g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
*If you don’t want to make the ganache or have the two hours needed to let it set, then you can make the quick chocolate mocha buttercream, see ingredients and directions below.
6 large eggs, separated
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (32.5g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
¼ cup (30g) cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Whipped Cream Filling:
1 ¼ cups (300mL) 35% whipping cream
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Mocha Frosting*:
3.5 oz (100g) dark chocolate (I used 78% Lindt Excellence)
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup (90g) icing sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp instant coffee powder (optional)
½ tsp vanilla extract
Small pinch of salt
1. Start by making the ganache as this takes time to stiffen to a spreadable consistency. Place cream in a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer. Pour over chocolate chips in bowl. Let sit 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and place in the fridge until it is a frosting-like consistency and thick enough to spread on cake, about 1.5 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Grease and line a large rimmed baking sheet (12x17” (32x44cm)) with parchment paper.
3. Beat egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or using hand beaters, until pale yellow and thick, about 5 minutes.
4. Beat egg whites in a clean bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment on medium speed, until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and slowly add sugar in a steady stream. Beat until egg whites are stiff and glossy.
5. Sift together all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine.
6. Fold egg yolks into egg-white mixture, mixing gently. Tip the flour mixture into the egg mixture and gently fold to combine. Tip batter onto prepared baking sheet, smooth top. Bake in preheat oven for 10-12 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
7. Be brave and gently invert the warm cake onto the tea towel. Peel off parchment paper. Starting at the short end, roll the cake into a log inside tea towel. Transfer to a wire rack, seam side down. Let cool completely, about 20 minutes.
8. Beat together whipping cream, sugar and salt in a large bowl using hand beaters (or in your stand mixer) with the whisk attachment. Beat cream until stiff.
9. Once cake has cooled, unroll and evenly spread whipped cream over cake, leaving a 1-inch border. Roll cake back into a log. Wrap the cake in your tea towel and place seam side down in the fridge to chill, at least 1 hour.
10. If you aren’t using the chocolate ganache and want to make the chocolate mocha frosting, then continue reading here! If you’re using ganache, skip to step 11 -> While the cake cools, make the frosting. Break chocolate into small pieces. Place in a heatproof bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on 30 second increments. Alternatively, melt chocolate in bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Set aside to cool to room temperature. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine butter and icing sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Beat in cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt. Scrape in cooled chocolate. Beat to combine.
11. Unroll cake from tea towel. If you like, cut off ¼ of one end of cake on a diagonal. Use this piece to attach on the diagonal to the side of your cake (this will be your tree ‘branch’). You can also leave the cake in one log. Evenly spread top of cake with ganache or chocolate mocha frosting. Using a fork, make a pattern on the frosting to look like tree bark. You can decorate the cake with chocolate curls. Or, eat as is!