How to Make a Chocolate Christmas Yule Log

An Easy, But Delicious Chocolate Christmas Yule Log Recipe!

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This chocolate Yule log recipe is easy to follow, with step by step directions, and photos for each step. Yet the recipes produces an absolutely delicious chocolate Yule log, that looks like it came from a gourmet bakery.  Options are explained for several types of filling, to meet your tastes and needs; such as a chocolate Yule log with chocolate filling and chocolate icing, or with a white vanilla filling (shown at right)

A little chocolate Yule Log history and variations

A Chocolate Christmas Yule Log or a traditional Bche de Nol ("Yule log") is a dessert served during the Christmas holidays in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Quebec, Lebanon and several other Christian-populated countries, with ever-growing popularity in the United States. The cake is made to resemble a log ready for the fire. The traditional Yule Log is made from a sponge cake (Gnoise, also called a Swiss Roll in the U.K.) generally baked in a large, shallow baking pan, frosted with 1/4 inch to of either a chocolate or whipped cream filling (or in some cases a chocolate buttercream filling), then rolled again to form a cylinder, and iced on the outside with a chocolate icing (frosting). There are many variations on the traditional recipe, including chocolate cakes, ganache, Nutella filling, mocha and espresso or other frostings and fillings. Yule logs are often served with a portion of one end of the cake cut off and set on top of the cake to resemble a chopped off branch, and bark-like texture is often produced in the buttercream or with chocolate flakes, for further realism. These cakes are often decorated with powdered sugar to resemble snow, tree branches, fresh berries, and mushrooms made of marzipan or meringue.

The recipe below produces an awesome light, fluffy and very chocolately, Yule log with a light chocolate sponge cake rolled with an equally light egg-white and cocoa-based filling, then frosted with a chocolate icing! The photos accompanying each step should help make it even easier! I've included some suggestions if you'd rather have a white or other filling.


Yield: one long (12 to 14 inch) log, or 2 short (7 inch) logs

Ingredients

Cake

  • 5 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
  • 1 cup sugar, divided into two cup amounts
  • cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa (powdered cocoa, 70% or greater cocoa, no added sugar is best, two brands are shown in the photos at right)  *
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon cream of tartar

Filling

  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 cups Confectioners' sugar (also called powdered sugar and in the UK, icing sugar)
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa (powdered cocoa)*
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing

  • 1.5 cups Confectioners' sugar (also called powdered sugar and in the UK, icing sugar)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter (margarine doesn't work as well, since it isn't as hard at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup powdered cocoa*

* If you can't get powdered cocoa, you can use 4 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate instead in place of 1/4 cup of powdered cocoa..

Materials

  • Shallow baking pan, Maximum size: 11" by 17" (27cm by 43cm)
  • Mixer, obviously and electric mixer (stand or hand held) is easiest.
  • Oven
  • Parchment paper, also called baking paper.  Waxed paper is NOT the same.
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Recipe and Directions

Making the Yule log cake sheet

Step 1 - Separate your eggs

Separate the 5 yolks from whites, obviously into two separate bowls. Place egg whites in a small mixing bowl and let the whites stand at room temperature for 30 minutes or more.

 

 

Step 2 - Line a pan with parchment

Grease a baking pan, then line the pan with  parchment paper. Finally, grease the parchment paper. I use Coconut oil as the grease, but you could use butter, margarine or even (yuck) animal lard. This recipe presumes a 15 inch by 10 inch by inch deep pan, but you can use a pan that is larger in any dimension(s), and just crimp the parchment paper at the proper dimensions.

Step 3 - Beat the egg yolks

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks on high until they are light and fluffy. Gradually add cup sugar, beating for a few minutes, until thick and lemon-colored.

Step 4 - Mix the dry ingredients

In a dry bowl, combine the

  • cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup baking cocoa (powdered cocoa)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

with a whisk.

Step 5 - Mix the flour mixture with the egg yolks

Slowly the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and blend on medium, until well mixed.

 

 

 

 

Step 6 - In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites, and add the sugar

Beat egg whites (in a separate clean bowl) on medium until foamy. Add the teaspoon of cream of tartar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form. then, slowly add the remaining cup of sugar, beating on high until stiff peaks form.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 7 - Fold the egg whites into the chocolate flour mixture

Slowly and gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate flour mixture, until no streaks remain.

 

 

 

Step 8 - Gently spread the batter into the pan

Gently spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.

 

 

 

Step 9 - Bake for 12 minutes

Bake in the preheated oven at 350 for about 12 minutes or until cake springs back (do not over bake; certainly not more than 15 minutes. It is better to under bake rather than over bake!).

 

 

 

Step 10 - Cool and peel

Cool the cake for 5 minutes, then invert onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners' sugar (or another piece of parchment paper, dusted with the powdered sugar). Peel off parchment paper.

Step 11 -Roll the cake

Roll the cake up in the towel or paper, starting with a short side. Then let it cool on a wire rack. The cake portion is now done!  If you need to take a break, put the cake in a sealed container or plastic bag.


Making the filling

Steps 12 and 13 makes a very light, fluffy and tasty chocolate filling (shown at left, prior to frosting the outside). 

If you want a white filling instead (shown below), check out the alternatives, below.

 

 

 

Alternatives:

  • If you are in a hurry or want a white filling, you could instead just use a topping like "Cool Whip"; but it would need to be served within hours, before the Cool Whip melted and went flat.
  • Another white filling can be made by whipping 1 cup of whipping cream until it is light and fluffy, then beating in cup powdered sugar. Obviously, this requires the cake to be kept refrigerated, except when serving it.
  • For a white, vanilla buttercream filling, see the "white buttercream filling recipe" at the bottom of this page;
  • For a chocolate buttercream filling, see the "chocolate buttercream filling recipe" at the bottom of this page;
  • For a mocha (coffee) filling, add 1 tablespoon of instant coffee granules to any of these above.

Step 12 - Whip 4 egg whites

Whip 4 egg whites in a clean dry mixing bowl until fluffy peaks form.

Step 13 - Slowly add the powdered sugar

Add the 1 and a half cups of powdered (icing or confectioner's sugar) to the mixer. Then add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/4 cup powdered baking cocoa. Whip briefly, but to a uniform color.

 

 

 

 

Step 14 - Unroll the cake

Unroll the cake! If you want to make two shorter cakes, simply cut the cake in half before unrolling it. The advantage of this is, you can make one with chocolate filling, the other with a white filling, or mocha, etc.

 

 

 

Step 15 - Spread the filling on the cake

Spread it about at least 1/4 inch thick, up to a maximum of inch thick.

 

 

 

Of course, if you made one of the white alternative fillings, it would look like this, instead:

 

 

 

Step 16 - Roll up the cake again

Gently and loosely roll the cake, not squeezing!  You don't want to squeeze out the filling. Again, the chocolate filling is on the left, the white buttercream (or whipped cream) is on the right. Now, while the white icing looks better, the chocolate tastes much better... in my opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

 



Making the Icing (frosting)

This is an easy and delicious chocolate icing! 

Alternatives: If you are in a hurry, you can use a pre-made, store-bought can of chocolate frosting / icing, instead.

Step 17 - In a mixing bowl:

To a mixing bowl add:

  • 1.5 cups confectioners' sugar (also called powdered sugar and in the UK, icing sugar)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

 

Next whip it up in your electric mixer:

 

 

 

 

Step 18 - Add the cocoa

Then add the cocoa, and mix with the mixer until uniform:

 

 

 

 

 

Step 19 - Now ice / frost the cake!

Gently slurp the icing on the cake (top and ends)

Note: the log in the photo appears short because I cut the roll in half to make two short logs, rather than one long log.

 

 

 

Step 20 - Decorate

I use a pastry blending knife to make the lines in the icing to look like a log! I just drag the front of it across the log. Of course, you can buy special decorating tools for this, also.

 

 

 

You can also dust it with powdered sugar, to simulate snow!

 

 

 

 


Finishing Touches

You can dust the log with powdered sugar to simulate snow.  Marzipan holly leaves can be added.

You can keep this in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days, assuming you but inside a cake container, plastic bag,  or other container.

If you have any questions, tips of suggestions, please write me!


Alternative filling: White (Vanilla) Buttercream Filling

Continued from "Making the filling", just before step 12. Buttercreams of this type of a bit more stable at room temperature than whipped cream fillings

Ingredients (for United States)

  • cup unsalted butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 lb. (about 4 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Vanilla Extract, a few drops, up to 1/4 teaspoon

Ingredients (for the UK and Europe)

  • 250g (9oz) Icing (confectioners) Sugar
  • 125g (4oz) Butter, softened
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of Milk or Cream
  • Vanilla Extract, a few drops, up to 1/4 teaspoon

Recipe

  1. Cream with an electric mixer the butter and sugar until it is soft and light.
  2. Add the vanilla and just enough milk (or cream) to produce a fairly stiff spreading consistency. Start with a small amount of milk (start with just a couple of tablespoons) - you may not need all of it.

Alternative filling: Chocolate Buttercream Filling

Continued from "Making the filling", just before step 12. Buttercreams of this type of a bit more stable at room temperature than whipped cream fillings

Ingredients (for United States)

  • C unsalted butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 lb. (about 4 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Vanilla Extract, a few drops, up to 1/4 teaspoon

Ingredients (for the UK and Europe)

  • 250g (9oz) Icing (confectioners) Sugar
  • 125g (4oz) Butter, softened
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of Milk or Cream
  • Vanilla Extract, a few drops, up to 1/4 teaspoon
  • 30g (1oz) Plain unsweetened chocolate (70% cocoa solids), melted OR 1/4 cup powdered

Recipe

  1. Cream (whip) the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until it is soft and light.
  2. Add the vanilla and just enough milk (or cream) to produce a fairly stiff spreading consistency. Start with a small amount of milk (start with just a couple of tablespoons) - you may not need all of it.'
  3. Add the cocoa and mix well!

Feedback and Comments

  • A visitor writes on December 24, 2011: "I just wanted to say that I just finished making the Christmas Yule Log from your recipe. I had looked for a recipe and found that yours was the easiest to follow with the clear directions and photos. Plus, we were in the middle of a snowstorm and I had all the ingredients for your recipe on hand! It's clearing up and we're heading out for a Christmas Eve celebration with friends and, thanks to your website, taking along a stunning dessert! Merry Christmas to all!"