A Yule Log is a traditional Christmas dessert dating back to the 19th century. It’s fun to make, decorate, and serve on this special holiday.
When we were kids we’d go to my Aunt’s house on Christmas Eve. Often she made a traditional Buche de Noel or Yule Log for dessert.
Ever the chocolate lover, and someone who loves an opportunity to have fun decorating a cake, I decided to attempt my own version of this popular holiday dessert to take to a recent family dinner.
It all starts with a chocolate cake made in a jelly roll pan.
After you cook the cake you need to flip it out onto a piece of parchment or a large kitchen towel that has been sprinkled with powdered sugar. You can see here that I missed some of the parchment. I ended up cutting this part off.
Tip: My jelly roll pan is a bit larger than the standard size and measures 15 x 12 x 1. So when I made the cake from a box mix I used it all. However, looking back I think it would have been better to save some of the cake batter, maybe 20% for a second pan to use as a branch or extra for cupcakes.
You need to roll up the cake and refrigerate it before adding the filling.
Then unroll the cake and spread on your filling, making sure to leave some space around the edges. Otherwise, the filling will ooze out the sides as you roll.
Afterwards, you will roll the cake back up with the parchment or towel, starting on one side. Lift the parchment up as you gently push and roll the cake while removing the paper.
Before adding the final decorations, transfer the yule log onto a serving platter. I used this crystal plate because it has a nice lip to hold the ganache and decorations.
As you can see my yule log has a few cracks. I wasn’t bothered by this because I knew that I was going to decorate it. However, I’m sure with practice it would look better.
The decorating is the best part. I used a decadent chocolate ganache all over the cake and let it puddle on the bottom of the platter.
Crushed pistachios and chocolate shavings were sprinkled on top of the yule log.
The sides were adorned with petite seckel pears and sprigs of chocolate peppermint.
You can also dust it with powdered sugar (like snow) but it will melt into the ganache so you need to do this just before serving.
Other ideas for decorating the Yule Log
- Rosemary Sprigs
- Candied Mint Leaves
- Dried Fruit
- Meringue Mushrooms
- Pomegranate Seeds
I hope you have a great holiday and enjoy this delicious and decadent treat with the ones you love.
- 1 box chocolate cake
- extra egg (if box mix calls for only two)
- 1 pkg chocolate pudding mix (3.9 oz)
- 1 cup of softened butter
- 4 cups of powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 2 or more tablespoons milk
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 2 bars semi-sweet chocolate (reserve 2 squares for decorating)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup pistachios crushed
- 2 squares of chocolate grated
- various fresh or dried fruits and herbs
- Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper
- Make the cake by following the box directions and adding in an extra egg if the directions only call for 2 eggs and the pudding mix.
- While the cake is baking prepare a large piece of parchment paper sprinkled with powdered sugar.
- Once cake has baked let cook for a couple of minutes and while it's still warm flip onto the parchment paper. If the parchment paper from the pan is still on top of the cake remove it.
- Roll the cake up starting at the short end and then place it the refrigerator for 30 mins.
- Meanwhile make the filling by combining the butter, vanilla, powdered sugar and as much milk as you need to get a nice spreadable filling. (about 2 T)
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread on the filling leaving the edges clear as the filling will spread out as you roll it back up.
- Re-roll the cake back up, lifting and pushing it together while also removing the parchment paper. Transfer carefully to a serving platter and refrigerate as you make the ganache topping.
- Once the ganache is made remove the yule log from the refrigerator. Spread the ganache all over the cake and around the serving platter. Garnish the top with grated chocolate, crushed pistachios and place the pears and mint around the sides.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate.
My jelly roll pan is 15 x 12 x 1. That's a little bigger than most. So if you are using a box cake mix it will probably be too much in a smaller pan. In fact, I think mine was a little too much. I suggest reserve some for another pan to make a branch or another small cake.