Chocolate Hazelnut Bûche de Noël: The showstopper dessert of the holiday season

This classic dessert is sure to be a conversation piece in your holiday dinner. The sugared cranberries are a pretty garnish and take this cake to the next level.

“A classic Bûche de Noël, or French yule log cake, is one of the most impressive holiday desserts you can make,” says Michelle Pennock, executive chef for President’s Choice test kitchen.

“The key to rolling the sponge cake without having it crack is to keep it moist, so be sure to cover it with a damp towel as directed once it comes out of the oven and use the towel to guide the cake as you roll it. Don’t be concerned if the cake cracks a little — you can cover it up with the hazelnut frosting.”

Use jelly roll pans, which are smaller and taller versions of baking sheets and are perfect for making both rolled and slab cakes, as well as roasting smaller batches of vegetables and nuts.

Prep time: 50 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves: 14

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cup (300 mL) chopped PC 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate
  • 5 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • ½ cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) cocoa powder
  • 1 jar (375 g) PC crunchy hazelnut spread, divided
  • 2 cups (500 mL) mascarpone cheese, drained and at room temperature
  • Sugared cranberries (optional)
  • Fresh mint (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line 15 x 10-inch (38 x 25 cm) metal jelly roll pan with parchment paper; mist with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Place chocolate in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 20 seconds, then stir and repeat until melted; 1 to 1 ½ minutes total. Stir until smooth. Let cool slightly.
  3. Beat together egg yolks, sugar and salt in large bowl using electric hand mixer until pale yellow. Beat in melted chocolate until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Beat egg whites in separate large bowl using electric hand mixer until soft peaks form. Fold a quarter of egg whites into chocolate mixture using rubber spatula; fold in remaining egg whites. Transfer to prepared pan, spreading evenly and smoothing top.
  5. Bake until cake springs back when lightly touched in centre; about 10 minutes. Run paring knife around edges of cake to loosen. Cover cake with clean damp kitchen towel; let cool completely.
  6. Arrange same damp towel on work surface with long side facing you; dust with cocoa powder. Carefully invert cake onto towel with long side facing you; remove pan and gently peel off parchment. Trim edges of cake. Set aside.
  7. Stir ½ cup hazelnut spread with mascarpone in separate large bowl until well combined. Spread over surface of cake. Beginning at long side closest to you and lifting and guiding cake with towel, roll up cake lengthwise. Arrange, seam-side down, on work surface.
  8. Diagonally slice 5-inch (13 cm) long piece off one end of cake. Arrange longer piece of cake on serving platter; place cut end of short piece adjacent to long piece to make a “Y” shape. Spread remaining hazelnut spread all over cake. Refrigerate uncovered until hazelnut spread is set; about 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
  9. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. If using, top with sugared cranberries and mint.

Chef’s tip: To make sugared cranberries, bring ½ cup each granulated sugar and water to a boil in small saucepan; cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Add 1 cup frozen cranberries; simmer 1 minute. Pour cranberries and liquid into bowl or liquid measure; refrigerate 1 hour. Strain cranberries; transfer to small baking dish or rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with ½ cup granulated sugar; toss to coat. Spread in single layer; let stand uncovered at room temperature for three hours or up to 24 hours.

Nutritional information per serving: calories 430, fat 31 g (15 g of which is saturated), sodium 160 mg, carbohydrate 31 g, fibre 0 g, sugars 26 g, protein 7 g.