A bûche de Noël, or yule log, is a traditional festive dessert in Quebec and other French-speaking regions of the world. This sponge cake, which is filled with mascarpone cheese and shaped jelly roll-style, represents the log burnt in the family hearth to provide warmth and light on Christmas Eve.
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Icing sugar, for dusting
1 tub mascarpone cheese
1 cup icing sugar (plus extra as needed)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp. instant espresso
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. instant espresso (optional)
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
Chocolate flakes or curls, for decorating (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for 3 to 4 minutes, until thick and pale yellow. Beat in the water and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat on low speed or stir by hand just until smooth.
Line a shallow rimmed baking sheet (about 10×15 inches) with parchment. Pour in the batter and spread it out evenly to fill the pan to every edge. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch.
Run a thin knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a tea towel that’s been dusted with icing sugar. Peel off the parchment, then starting on a short side, roll up the cake with the towel inside and set aside to cool completely.
To make the filling, beat the mascarpone with the icing sugar, cream, cocoa and espresso until creamy and spreadable, adding more icing sugar if needed to achieve the right consistency.
Unroll the cake (it’s OK if the inner short edge stays curled—don’t try to flatten it) and spread with the filling. Roll the cake back up and transfer to a board or serving platter. Cover and refrigerate while you make the frosting.
In a blender, pulse the evaporated milk, sugar and vanilla until well combined. In a medium bowl or small saucepan, melt the chocolate and sugar in the microwave or on the stovetop, stirring until completely melted. Add to the sugar mixture and pulse, scraping down the sides of the blender once or twice, until smooth.
Slice 2 to 3 inches off the end of the log at a slight diagonal, then place it against the side of the log, positioning it like a cut-off branch. Spread the frosting all over the log and branch, using some to attach the piece if needed. Draw the blade of a knife or the tines of a fork along the frosted log to make it look like bark. Refrigerate if you’re not serving it right away, and dust with icing sugar or sprinkle with chocolate curls before serving. Serves eight.