Buche de Noel is a traditional French holiday dessert meant to resemble a Yule log. There are several components, but there are a few do-ahead steps you can take advantage of to make assembly easier. The chocolate sponge cake is filled with caramel buttercream, covered with dark chocolate ganache and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar to resemble snow.
Images: Peter Muka
Chocolate Caramel Buche de Noel
Makes: Serves 10 to 12
- Caramel Buttercream, ready to use
- Dark Chocolate Ganache, ready to use
- Marzipan Mushrooms (optional)
- Confectioners’ sugar (optional)
Chocolate Sponge Cake:
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- ¾ cup sifted cake flour
- ¼ cup sifted Dutch cocoa powder plus extra
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 2 tablespoons flavorless vegetable oil, such as canola
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- For the Cake: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line a standard rimmed baking sheet pan (approx. 17¾ inches x 12⅞ inches) with parchment. Coat paper with nonstick spray and dust lightly with cocoa.
- Whisk together ½ cup sugar, flour, ¼ cup cocoa, baking powder and salt in a small bowl to aerate and combine. Beat egg yolks in large bowl with electric mixer until thick. Beat in oil, water and vanilla. Gradually add dry ingredients in 2 batches, beating just until blended.
- In a clean, grease-free bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining ½ cup sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Fold about a quarter of the whites into dry mixture to begin to loosen it up; it will be thick, then fold in remaining whites in 2 additions. Spread batter evenly on prepared baking sheet using an offset spatula.
- Bake cake about 10 to 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on rack for 5 minutes. Sift a very light layer of cocoa over a large kitchen towel. Loosen cake from pan sides with offset spatula or knife tip. Center cake over the towel and unmold. Peel off parchment. Dust cake lightly with more cocoa. Starting with a long side, roll up cake in towel (towel will be rolled up inside). Cool completely.
- For Assembly: Unroll your cake and spread with Caramel Buttercream in an even layer about ½-inch thick, leaving ¼-inch border on one of the long sides. Roll the cake and buttercream up in a tight spiral, starting from the long end that has the buttercream all the way to the edge. Place cake seam side down on large platter and use hands to gently squeeze into a nice cylindrical shape. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
- Slice off an end of the log on an angle to become a “branch” along the side of the log. Slice off a piece from the other end, if you like, to make a short branch on top of the log as well, as seen in the image.
- Cover the log and branches with Dark Chocolate Butter Ganache, using a small icing spatula to make bark-like marks. Cake may be served immediately or let it sit at a cool room temperature for up to 6 hours. It may be refrigerated overnight, but bring to room temperature before serving. Place Marzipan Mushrooms here and there, if you want. May also be dusted lightly with confectioners’ sugar to resemble snow.
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