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Chocolate Buche de Noel

Chocolate buche de Noel cake on a wooden board decorated with red berries

Chocolate was introduced to France in 1615. When Anne of Austria arrived to marry Louis XIII, she brought with her a taste of home, chocolate. The King loved it. The charms of chocolate spread throughout France over the years. It’s said that Paris has more than 300 chocolate shops, the most of any city in the world. And at Christmas, it’s a firm favourite for the traditional Buche de Noel, Christmas yule log cake…

Chocolate Christmas yule log for 8

4 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons soft butter and 2 teaspoons flour to grease and flour the baking pan
1/3 cup flour (50g)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (40g)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3  cup sugar 45g
1/2 cup sugar 65g
1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream) (250ml)
A little sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Whipped cream filling

Beat a cup of whipping cream until stiff but not dry with a little sugar and a dash of vanilla or bourbon.

Chocolate ganache

8 ounces dark chocolate (I use 85%)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Make the ganache

In a saucepan over a very low heat, melt the chocolate with the sugar slowly. Add the heavy cream, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until very smooth. Let cool until ready to use.

Make the cake

Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. Separate the eggs. Butter and flour a baking tray (15 x 10 x 1-inch).

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

Beat the egg yolks and vanilla until they are thick. Gradually add the sugar until all is dissolved.

Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl until they form soft peaks. Fold the whites into the egg yolks and sugar, keeping the mixture very light. Sift the flour mixture over the mixture and fold very gently until it is incorporated into the egg batter.

Pour the mixture onto the buttered baking sheet, spreading it evenly with a spatula and a light hand.

Bake just until the batter is set and springs back when touched, about 10 to 15 minutes depending on your oven.

Immediately loosen the edges of the cake with a spatula and slide it carefully onto a towel sprinkled with a little sifted powdered sugar. Starting with the end of the cake, roll it up gently with the towel. When it is cool, unroll the cake and spread it with the whipped cream mixture. Roll it up again, sealing the edge with whipping cream. Place the towel loosely over the cake and refrigerate for an hour.

Spread the cake with cooled chocolate ganache and score it lengthwise with a large fork, making a pattern that resembles a tree branch. Decorate and indulge!

Suzanne Dunnaway is the author of No Need To Knead, Handmade ItalianBreads in 90 Minutes (Hyperion); Rome, At Home, The Spirit of la cucina romana in Your Own Kitchen (Broadway Books); No Need to Knead (Metric/American version-Grub Street Publishers, London).

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