It seems every newspaper, magazine, e-zine, blog, newsletter, etc. is publishing cookie recipes this time of year. I love making cookies, and will be making my favorites over the next few weeks to give away to family and friends: peanut butter blossoms (pb cookies with a chocolate candy on top), Spaghetti Cookies, Shortbread, Cherry Nut Nuggets, Russian Tea Cakes (my friend Shelly McLaughlin’s recipe), and maybe even Uncle Clark’s All You Want For Christmas Cookies . But, since everyone else is doing cookies, I thought I’d give a little love this month to some other holiday desserts. Some will be easy and some will require a bit more work, like the Gingerbread House, I wrote about last week, but they all will provide that “something special” to top off your holiday meal.
This past week I made a Buche de Noel (aka a Yule Log). I used to make one of these every year for work per the request of my buddy Bao, who said they reminded him of his childhood in Vietnam. I always let him think it was a big effort, but the way I make ’em it isn’t that hard, sshhh!
Basically it is just a jelly roll with chocolate frosting made to look like a log. Use your favorite jelly roll recipe (or a cake mix will do in a pinch) fill with your desired filling (easy version would be jam or whipped topping), roll, frost with chocolate buttercream and use a fork to make lines for the bark, decorate with meringue mushrooms or plastic decorations and voila! an impressive looking dessert.
Ok, so I admit there are a few tricks.
- You have to use a half sheet pan or jelly roll pan. It needs to have at least 1/2″ sides on it, but a 13×9″ pan will be too small and the cake will be too thick to roll. I use the bar pan from Pampered Chef (e-mail me if you want my rep’s contact info).
- Line the pan with parchment paper (or foil) and grease it for easier removal from the pan.
- Invert the cake after removing from the oven. I place a cutting board on top and then flip it over, never had one break yet.
- Remove the parchment paper, coat the cake with a layer of powdered sugar and roll up while it is still warm, then let it cool before unrolling, filling and decorating.
- Don’t go crazy with the filling or it will squirt out once you try to roll it – not the end of the world if you do, just a little messy.
- I cut a few inches off the top at an angle and set that piece next the big piece to make it look a bit more like a trimmed log (see the picture). This also makes it easier for me to fit it on the plate :).
More holiday desserts coming next time. In the meantime you can check out the Desserts section of the site.
Until next time, happy eating!