Mocha Yule Log / Buche de Noel

Merry Christmas! Today is special because my whole family came to visit me! It’s very rare for all of us to get together because of our schedules. Thus, I had to make a special holiday recipe.

For this block, I’m on a backup rotation. Sadly, I was “pulled” to cover a colleague on the medicine floor for 2 weeks. It’s one of the busier rotations, with 28 hr shifts every 4th day. But the silver lining to this was that I got Christmas Day off (days off are based on when the 28 hr shifts are scheduled, so it was a happy coincidence)

My family and B arrived on Saturday night, I saw them for 2 hours, went to bed, did a 28 hour shift Sun-Mon, got off work Monday midday on Christmas Eve, then got Christmas Day off! I haven’t had Christmas off in years, and I’m glad to spend my precious 36 hours with B and my family.

We of course cooked, baked, ate, opened presents, and had a Christmas hike. It was my family’s first time seeing my not-so-new apartment and meeting Nike!

I was deciding what epic desert to make for our Christmas meal: a German Chocolate Cake or a Yule log. My sister said “Yule Log! You can make German Chocolate Cake the other 364 days of the year!” 

My family loves baking, and while I rarely make roll cakes because they’re so labor intensive, my sister and brother helped with the Yule log.

The Yule log is originally a Nordic tradition, where a specially chosen ceremonial tree would be slowly fed into the fire for the 12 Days of Christmas. Different kids of wood were used in different countries – oak in England, birch in Scotland, and cherry in France. The logs decorated with holly, pinecones, or ivy. Wine and salt were added, so the logs smelled nice when lit (source).

No one knows who made the first Yule log cake, but it was estimated to originate in the 1600s. Edible Yule Logs are thought to be the invention of the French, where the cake is known as Buche de Noel. Marzipan and meringue were popular decorations. Sponge cake, used to make the log base, is one of the oldest cakes still made today (source).

I rolled the cake, filled it with coffee cream, and covered all the cracks with delicious chocolate frosting. At first, my dad and brother were concerned the recipe would be too small with the amount of flour used, but whipping five egg whites increased the volume significantly, and there was more than plenty for 6 people.

I covered the chocolate frosting with 70% dark chocolate shavings from Taza Chocolate. I gave this Taza dark chocolate gift set to my dad for Christmas this year, a true chocoholic, and the Hot chocolate Trio to my mom.

Although the log didn’t look too pretty on its own, once I added the chocolate bark shavings, powdered sugar for snow, and little woodland touches, it looked so festive! (I picked the berries off random bushes and the robins are my Ikea Christmas ornaments). We enjoyed it with some Christmas mead from our England trip. Recipe adapted from Taste of Home.

Mocha Yule Log

5 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1/2 cup cake flour
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar, divided in two 1/2 cups
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons Bailey’s liqueur
chocolate shavings (I used Taza chocolate’s dark 70%)
powdered sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom of a greased 15×10 inch pan with parchment paper. Sift flour, cocoa and salt together. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until thickened. Fold in flour mixture.

Place egg whites in a medium bowl. Add cream of tartar to egg whites and beat on medium until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining sugar and continue beating until soft glossy peaks form. Gradually fold whites into batter. Transfer to prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Bake until top springs back when lightly touched, 12-15 minutes (do not overbake). Cool 5 minutes. Invert onto a tea towel dusted lightly with cocoa. Gently peel off paper. While cake is warm and pliable, roll up cake in the towel jelly-roll style, starting with a short side. Cool completely on a wire rack.

In a bowl, dissolve coffee granules in cream and add sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Unroll cake, remove towel, and spread filling generously over cake to within 1/2 in. of edges. Roll up again, and trim ends. Transfer to a platter. Refrigerate, covered, until cold.

For frosting, beat all ingredients until smooth. Spread over cake. Using a fork, make lines in frosting to resemble tree bark. Dust with chocolate shavings and powdered sugar. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!


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