The combination of chocolate, cream and the subtle nuttiness of chestnuts is perfection. When I made the vanilla chestnut cream to fill the bûche, I had a hard time making myself not eat it with a spoon.
I decorated my yule log with icing sugar, coconut mushrooms and chocolate leaves. I made the leaves but not the mushrooms- cut me some slack, I have a ridiculous amount of baking and cooking to do this holiday! You can use what you like- holly and berry decorations, snowflake sprinkles, robins (not real ones obviously). Whatever you feel like- go for it!
Ingredients for the 'Log':
- 5 eggs
- 4oz caster sugar
- 3oz self-raising flour
- 2oz cocoa powder
Ingredients for Simple Syrup (or 'Soaking Syrup'):
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup caster sugar
Ingredients for Filling:
- 300ml double cream
- 2oz caster sugar
- 200g sweetened chestnut purée
- 1tsp vanilla bean paste (or just the extract/ flavouring)
Ingredients for Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
- 4oz softened unsalted butter
- 250g icing sugar
- 3-4tbsp milk
- 1tsp vanilla
- 100g dark chocolate, melted and cooled (70% cocoa)
1) Preheat oven to 180 degrees C and line a 34cm x 24cm (about 13" x 9") pan- I just used a shallow roasting pan, I don't own a dedicated swiss roll tin.
2) Remember I said once how you can't whip up egg whites all fluffy with egg yolks in? I lied. (Well, I didn't lie- just over exaggerated- but for several recipe you do need to keep whites and yolks completely separate). Place the whole eggs in a bowl with the sugar, and whip up until thick and fluffy, until when you lift out the whisks a thin ribbon of egg trails behind and takes a few seconds to sink back into the rest of the mixture.
3) Sift in the cocoa and flour into your whipped eggs, and fold in carefully until the colour is even- don't do this for longer than you have to, you want to keep in as much air as possible.
4) Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan, and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes (or until the sponge springs back when poked, or a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean).
5) Take out your sponge, and whilst it's still hot flip it onto a separate sheet of baking parchment, which has been dusted with icing sugar to stop the sponge from sticking (make sure there is a bit of parchment sticking out towards you). Remove the parchment that you baked the cake on, and fold the sticking out bit of parchment that the cake is now on over the end of the sponge facing you, and roll the still-hot sponge up inside the parchment tightly and carefully. This will both help make it 'remember' the tightly rolled shape you've made it into as it cools, and make it easier to roll with the filling.
6) Let it cool COMPLETELY whilst rolled up. It might feel cold on the outside after a while, but carefully check inside the roll too- if it's warm, it'll melt the filling. Whilst it's cooling, you can make everything else.
7) To make the soaking syrup, place the sugar and water in the pan and bring it up to the boil, and boil for about three minutes. (Only add the brandy last minute when you want to use the syrup- you'll brush it on the inside of the cake roll to help moisten it. This cake has no butter or oil in it, so it dries out more easily.)
8) Make the filling by whipping up the double cream and sugar until reasonably thick (but not scoopable- don't overbeat it), and stir in your chestnut purée and vanilla. Leave this out whilst the roll cools- putting it in the fridge will harden it and make it pretty much impossible to spread later.
9) Make the frosting by whipping the butter, sugar and milk again until fluffy, then adding the chocolate and vanilla. Cover this with clingfilm to stop it from crusting over while you wait for the roll to cool.
10) Once cool, gently unroll the cake- it might split a bit, but don't worry- you'll be covering any imperfections with the frosting later.
11) Brush liberally with your soaking syrup.
12) Fill right to the ends with your vanilla chestnut cream, and roll it back up again (I've shown a gap at the end in the picture, which was my mistake- for this one, you do need to spread the filling right to the end to help the log stick together).
13) Place your newly rolled-up log on whatever you're going to serve it on, and lop a bit off one of the ends at an angle. Stick the chopped off bit on the side of the main log to create a bit of a branch (I used a bit of leftover chestnut cream to do this).
14) Spread on your chocolate buttercream frosting- I piped it on, but spreading with a knife and then running a fork over it to create a wood grain effect.
15) Have fun decorating.
Have a kickass Christmas, everyone!