The Throwback Dessert That Will Steal the Show at Christmas Dinner

Diana Yen of Jewels of New York shares her recipe for the perfect Yule Log.

Photos © The Jewels of New York/Lonny
Photos © The Jewels of New York/Lonny

The holidays are a time for family, friends, and showing off in the kitchen. We're ordinarily prone to sharing weeknight recipes and quick cooking hacks, but today, with the help of our trusty gourmet goddess Diana Yen, we're taking it slow and throwing it back with an old school yule log recipe that are sure to outperform the gingerbread houses and sugar cookies on the dessert table. Sure, it may require a bit more time and a smidgen more patience, but this beautiful log will score you a spot on the nice list for years to come. 

Mocha-Chestnut Yule Log
Serves 12

For the sponge cake:
- butter, for greasing the pan
- ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules or espresso powder
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners sugar, divided

For the ganache:
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons Kahlua, optional
- 2 cups sweetened whipped cream
- 1 cup Crème De Marrons (sweetened chestnut spread)
- rosemary sprigs, for garnish
- cranberries, for garnish
- 1 egg white, for garnish
- granulated sugar, for garnish

The Cake That Will Steal the Show at Christmas Dinner

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 18 by 13 inch sheet pan and
line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and coffee granules in a
small bowl and set aside. Whip the egg yolks, vanilla, and ⅓ cup of
the confectioners sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on
medium-high speed, until thick and light yellow, 3-4 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites (with clean bowl and beaters)
on medium-high until foamy, 1-2 minutes. Add the remaining ⅔ cup of
confectioners sugar a tablespoon at a time, making sure that it
incorporates into the egg whites before adding more. Beat until stiff
peaks form, 2-3 minutes more. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the
egg yolk mixture into the egg whites until incorporated (it’s okay to
have a few streaks of white in the batter). Gradually fold in the
flour mixture until incorporated. Transfer the batter to the prepared
pan and use an offset spatula or butter knife to smooth the batter
into an even surface.

The Cake That Will Steal the Show at Christmas Dinner

Bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and the edges
start to pull away from the sides of the pan, 9-12 minutes.

While the cake is baking, place a large, clean kitchen towel onto a
flat work surface and dust the towel generously with powdered sugar.
This will keep the cake from sticking when you unroll it.

The Throwback Dessert That Will Steal the Show at Christmas Dinner

When the cake is finished baking, remove it from the oven and allow it
to cool 5 minutes. Immediately invert the cake onto the dusted towel
and carefully peel off the parchment paper. While warm, carefully roll
up the cake and towel into a spiral, starting from the long end.
Transfer the towel wrapped cake to a cooling rack and allow to cool
completely.

Make the chocolate ganache: Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and
set aside. In a small pot, bring ⅔ cup of cream to a simmer over
medium heat. Remove from the heat and immediately pour over the
chocolate. Allow it to stand for 5 minutes, add the Kahlua, if using,
and stir until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Cool the ganache in
the refrigerator for 10 minutes. The consistency should be moldable
but not firm, thaw if needed before icing.

The Cake That Will Steal the Show at Christmas Dinner

To assemble: When cake is cooled, carefully unroll it from the towel
and transfer it to a parchment lined sheet pan. For the first layer,
spread the chestnut cream onto the cake, leaving a 2-inch border along
one of the long sides. Top with a second layer of whipped cream.
Carefully roll the cake back up. Using a serrated knife, carefully
trim the cake to 11 inches long. To create a stump, take one of the
trimmed edges and slice one side of it on the bias.

Transfer the cake to a serving platter. Use some of the ganache to glue the stump to the longer piece of cake. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, spread
the ganache all over the cake. Run the tines of a fork to create the
bark effect. To prepare garnishes, brush the cranberries and rosemary
with egg white and roll them in granulated sugar. Arrange them as
desired around the cake. Dust the cake with powdered sugar and enjoy.

The Cake That Will Steal the Show at Christmas Dinner

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