For 12 days in December, I’m running a series I’ve lovingly called Please Pass the Fruitcake. Yes, folks, it’s time to get off our collective duff and get back to what Christmas is all about. Complicated and strange recipes and traditions!
In case you missed it, yesterday I attempted to roast chestnuts. After the dismal outcome of roast chestnuts, I’m so excited to report that today’s feature, a Yule Log, produced much better results.
So what exactly is a yule log? Apparently is a very hard log that was traditionally burned on or around Christmas – very much a European tradition. At some point, it also came to refer to a chocolate cake roll. Of course, I opted for Emeril’s version.
When you start to look at the ingredients, you might wonder if this series should be rather the 12 Pounds of Christmas.
You start with EIGHT eggs. Yes, eight. And this is just for the cake! You whip them for eight minutes with 2 cups of sugar, until you have a very light and thick mixture. Add in warmed 1/2 cup milk with 2 tablespoons butter, and then 1 cup of flour sifted with baking powder and salt. Finally, vanilla. You can’t forget the vanilla!
From here, you bake your cake in a 1/2 sheet pan lined with butter and sugar at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until spongy. I have to say – this cake had the flavor of custard! I think it was all those eggs. I think it would be delicious on its own!
The first of the tricky steps comes when you have to invert the cake onto parchment paper. I’m pleased to say – I did it!
While my cake was baking, I got to work on the filling, which consists of 1 1/3 cup evaporated milk, 1 1/2 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt, brought to a boil. Then add 4 egg yolks in CAREFULLY. You will want to wisk constantly and pour them in slowly, otherwise you’ll end with bits of cooked egg in your filling. Not Christmassy. And in case you lost track, we’re up to a dozen eggs so far on this cake recipe. Then you add a full stick of butter (chopped up for quick melting) and 1 1/2 cups toasted coconut and you could also add 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans, but I omitted them.
Now because you want this filling cool before adding it to your cake, you may wish to do this step first! I ended up shoving the bowl of it in my freezer, in hopes it would cool down fast, but sadly when I went to remove it, I spilled about a third of it. I was mildly devastated.
Still, I had enough to cover my sponge cake with.
Next, the trickiest part of the whole thing. You need to roll up your cake from the long end. I used a combination of the parchment paper underneath, my hands, my arms, and some saran wrap. That did the trick. Let it cool in your fridge for one hour.
While that’s chillin’, you can work on the third and final part of this recipe: the ganache. You simply melt 1/2 lbs of chopped semi sweet chocolate (I just used the Hershey’s baking chips I’d purchased on sale) with 1 cup of heavy cream. That’s basically it.
The recipe recommends placing the cake on a wire rack over parchment paper. This was a good idea – the ganache is messy. Dump it on top, working to cover the entire log. Then, use a fork to draw in the texture of a log. What do you think?
So picture this. It’s your annual Christmas party. Aunt Sue will be bringing store bought pumpkin pie. Uncle Bob will be making rolls. Grandma will be making some sort of casserole with root vegetables. And you – you walk in with this bad boy:
OK so you’re probably wondering what’s up with the decorations. Yeah…I had to do it. Several recipes I consulted suggested dressing up the final log with woodland animals and mint leaves. My store was out of mint (can you believe it?), so I bought sage (though I wouldn’t recommend my guests eat them with the cake…). I added some small toy animals and found some almonds in my pantry. I used a plain old baking sheet, wrapped it in foil, and dusted it with confectioner’s sugar to resemble snow.
I’m not going to lie.
I impressed myself.
Heck, I impressed the big man himself…
This recipe is every bit whimsical as it is delicious.
I should warn you – that a little of this cake goes a long way. It is truly decadent, but remember you’ve got a dozen eggs, a full stick of butter (and then some!), cream, sugar, coconut, and chocolate in there…’Nuff said.
Ah look – I saved a piece just for you! Cheers!