Who doesn’t love a deer in a boa topping a Bûche de Noël / yule log that tastes divine? This classic French Christmas cake is a family favorite in our home during the holidays – and given how easy it is to make I’m always keen to whip one up to take to friends as a dessert.
If you take the time to bake just one thing this holiday I suggest this classic Bûche de Noël – it’s light, chocolatey, filled with boozy Chantilly cream and just happens to be gluten free. It’s also super easy to make, a showstopper and a crowd pleaser. Given that it’s meant to resemble a log if the cake cracks when you roll it up you can either slather the cake with ganache, disguise with a piece of chocolate bark or just dust with powdered sugar and let it be part of the branch.
Christmas just wouldn’t be the same in our house without a Bûche de Noël on the table – it’s a special dessert that unlike Christmas pudding – everyone can’t get enough of. It’s the antithesis of our traditional British Christmas Cake – that I have made in a jar – which is dense and full of booze. Perfect that the French side of our family is represented over the holidays by this flourless chocolate roulade which is very light and the booze is optional (but totally encouraged) in the whipped Chantilly cream filling.
Bûche de Noël Recipe
8 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate melted and then cooled to room temperature.
8 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
Chantilly Cream Filling
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons cognac, I like Rémy Martin
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate Ganache Glaze
4 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat the over to 350 F. Line a large shallow baking pan with parchment paper, let paper hang over the ends.
2. Whisk the egg whites until you get soft peaks. Add half the sugar and beat until you get stiff silky peaks. Set aside.
3. Beat the egg yolks with remaining half of the sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the melted chocolate and stir until incorporated.
5. Fold in one third of the beaten egg whites to lighten mixture then fold in the remaining two thirds being extremely gentle.
6. Spread cake batter into the baking pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until the cake has puffed up and the top is dry.
7. Transfer to a rack and cover with damp paper towels. Let stand for 5 minutes, remove towels and cool completely. Loosen edges with a knife.
8. Dust top of cake with cocoa powder and then cover with cloth. Invert onto cloth and remove parchment paper lining from the cake very gently.
9. Whisk cream with confectioners sugar, cognac, and vanilla until it holds stiff peaks.
10. Spread cream over cake and using the cloth to help lift, roll the cake up. Transfer to a platter seam side down and dust generously with cocoa powder. The cake can then be decorated with ganache, chocolate ‘bark’ and birds (see below) or simply dusted with a little confectioners sugar for snow and whatever you feel in the mood for.
11. To make the ganache place the chocolate in a bowl. In a small saucepan bring the cream to a boil and then pour over chocolate, whisk until smooth. Let cool until thick but still pourable about 3 minutes and then cover cake.
12. To make the chocolate bark melt chocolate and spread out over non-stick parchment paper. Let the chocolate cool and then carefully lift off paper and break to form large pieces of bark, place on cake. Finally dust with powdered sugar to look like snow and decorate with birds, deer in boas, holly ivy and sing your Christmas carols.