My First Buche de Noel

December 22, 2011

I’m going to keep this short and sweet because, chances are, if you are still looking for a dessert for your holiday table, you need it now and don’t have extra time to read a long post from me.  Am I right?

This is actually, technically, my second Bûche de Noël.  I made the first one, the exact same recipe, earlier this month for a party we hosted and I meant to take a photo of it then and post about it so you would have plenty of time to decide whether or not this was the dessert for you.  Alas, things don’t always happen as we plan.  And sometimes I write run-on sentences.  So I made it again for another party this past Saturday.  I meant to post about it on Sunday but then this bug hit our house and it seems to enjoy taking its time attacking us one by one.

So here we are.  This is an easy cake – a very easy way to get lots of ooohs and aaaahs.  You will need a jelly roll pan and ideally a torch although the latter is not totally necessary.  If you have patience, you will be making chocolate leaves and if you don’t you will not.  (I chose not but I will include the how-to below).  Buy the best peppermint ice cream you can because that is the flavor that comes through most clearly.  The cake is very mild and the frosting is just sweet.  The chocolate sauce is divine though, of course.  Next year I will make a more involved Bûche, one with a chocolate ganache and homemade meringue mushrooms, and pistachio “moss”.  This was a good start though.

One Year Ago:  Holiday Biscotti with Pistachios and Cranberries
Two Years Ago:  Peanut Butter (or Caramel) Mini Candy Brownie Cups
Three Years Ago:  Ultimate Ginger Cookies (Ina calls them ultimate, I say not as my new favorites)

Frozen Chocolate-Peppermint Bûche de Noël
Bon Appétit
12 to 14 servings

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
¾ cup heavy cream

Chocolate leaves
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped
10 fresh camellia leaves or lemon leaves, wiped clean with a damp cloth

Nonstick vegetable spray
1 cup sugar, divided
¾ cup cake flour
¼ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
2 pints peppermint ice cream
1/3 cup coarsely crushed red-and-white peppermint candies or candy canes

Meringue and decorations
5 large egg whites
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Fresh mint leaves
Small candy canes

Place chocolate in medium microwave-safe bowl.  Bring cream to simmer in small saucepan.  Pour cream over chocolate.  Let stand 1 minutes, then whisk until melted and smooth.  (Can be made 1 week ahead.  Cool cover, and chill.  Rewarm, uncovered, in microwave in 15-second intervals and whisk before using.)

Chocolate leaves
Stir chocolate in small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat.  Using pastry brush, brush chocolate on underside (veined side) of 1 leaf to coat completely (do not allow chocolate to drip over edge of leaf).  Place leaf, chocolate side up, on small foil-lined baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining leaves.  Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is cold and firm, at least 1 hour.  Working with 1 leaf at a time, carefully peel green leaf away from chocolate.  Return chocolate leaf to same sheet; discard green leaf.  (Can be made 3 days ahead.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill.)

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375ºF.  Line 15x10x1-inch baking sheet with parchment.  Coat paper with nonstick spray and dust with cocoa.

Sift ½ cup sugar, cake flour, ¼ cup coca, baking powder, and salt into small bowl.  Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks in large bowl until thick.  Beat in oil, 2 tablespoons water, and vanilla.  Gradually add dry ingredients, beating just until blended.  Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in medium bowl until soft peaks form.  Gradually add remaining ½ cup sugar, beating until stiff but not dry.  Fold ¼ of whites into yolk mixture to lighten.  Fold in remaining whites in 2 additions.  Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Bake cake until puffed and tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 12 minutes.  Cool cake in pan on rack 10 minutes.  Sift light layer of cocoa powder over large smooth kitchen towel (not terrycloth).  Cut around pan sides.  Turn cake out onto prepared towel, leaving 3-inch cloth border on 1 long side.  Peel off parchment.  Starting at 1 long side with cloth border and using cloth as aid, roll up cake in towel (towel will be rolled up inside).  Place cake, seam side down, on work surface; cool completely.

Microwave ice cream in 10-second intervals until barely softened.  Unroll cake on work surface but leave on cloth.  Dollop ice cream over cake by spoonfuls.  Gently spread ice cream in an even layer, leaving 1-inch plain border on long side opposite cloth border.  Sprinkle ice cream with crushed candy.  Using cloth as aide and starting at cloth order, roll up cake, enclosing ice cream in cake.  Place cake, seam side down, on long platter; cover with plastic wrap.  Freeze cake at least 8 hours or overnight.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar in large bowl to soft peaks.  Gradually add sugar, beating until still but not dry.  Bean in vanilla.

Cut off 1/8 of cake at angle at 1 end.  Press cut off part onto center of 1 side of log, cut side in.  Spread meringue all over top, sides and ends of cake.  Using fork, make long grooves in meringue down length of cake and in circles on ends to resemble tree bark.  Freeze cake until meringue is cold and firm, at least 3 hours.  Using torch, brown meringue in random spots.  Return cake to freezer.  (Can be made 2 days ahead.  Keep frozen.)  (DT:  I found I was not able to cover the cake because it stuck to the meringue so I just kept it in the freezer uncovered.)

Garnish cake with chocolate leaves, fresh mint, and small candy canes.  Cut cake crosswise into 1-inch wide slices.  Drizzle with warm chocolate sauce.


  1. It has been years since I made a Buche de Noel. I remember making it for the Daring Bakers challenge back in the day.Have a wonderful Christmas season Dana!!

    Comment by bellini — December 22, 2011 @ 1:19 am

  2. This baby is definitely a head turner. Unfortunately, I already have a rainbow cookie cake taking it’s place front and center on our dessert table. But next year? This is so happening.

    Comment by Joanne — December 22, 2011 @ 2:51 am

  3. Bravo!!!! xo

    Comment by stacey snacks — December 22, 2011 @ 3:44 am

  4. This is absolutely beautiful! Awesome recipe :)

    Comment by Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — December 22, 2011 @ 4:51 am

  5. I think I should make one too but maybe next year. Sorry to hear you’ve been attacked by bugs. Us too. Feel better and happy holidays!

    Comment by Charlotte — December 22, 2011 @ 5:37 am

  6. dana i don’t even know if i could attempt this! these look so hard! I love that it’s white and not the traditional brown.
    Merry Christmas to you sweetie. So glad to have you in my blogger circle of friends. :-)

    Comment by vanillasugarblog — December 22, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

  7. This is stunning, Dana! My family spent Christmas in the South of France a few years back and we had a Buche de Noel from one of the local bakeries. Ever since then I’ve wanted to make one again but just haven’t gotten around to it. I’m making a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust for this holiday, but after seeing your incredible creation I will definitely be getting my together next year and making one of these! Or making two- I’ll probably need a test run.

    Comment by Clara — December 22, 2011 @ 10:24 pm

  8. I loved this post. I used to make yule logs years ago, but it’s been awhile. Your recipe has inspired me to try again. Beautiful pictures. Merry Christmas.

    Comment by Mary Miller — December 22, 2011 @ 11:38 pm

  9. I’ve seen a few of these recipes posted but yours by far is the prettiest. This looks delicious!

    Comment by Traci — December 23, 2011 @ 2:21 am

  10. I’ve always wanted to make a buche de noel. Yours is absolutely perfect! Merry Christmas to you and your sweet family! xoxo

    Comment by Maria — December 23, 2011 @ 5:01 am

  11. you had me at peppermint, but you might have guessed that already. it’s beautiful, Dana. the best of wishes to you and yours this holiday season. xox

    Comment by tara — December 24, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

  12. Gorgeous buche de noel!

    Comment by Ashley — January 3, 2012 @ 4:39 am

  13. I finally made my first roulade last year. Maybe I’ll be ready to attempt a buche de noel at the end of this year. The meringue frosting looks so great!

    Comment by lisaiscooking — January 9, 2012 @ 10:11 pm

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