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Archive for Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bite Sighs: the Yule Log cake revisited

December 18, 2013

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A new year is just around the corner; a fresh start full of amazing possibilities. In a fit of nostalgia, I decided to take a look at my very first Bite Sighs recipe: a Yule Log cake. Since the original paid homage to vanilla, let’s see if we can come up with a chocolate version!

I’m a fan of chestnuts, so finding a way to pair them with cake seemed like the thing to do. If you can find ready-made sweetened chestnut puree, grab a can. Otherwise, you can make it at home using one of a billion recipes found online. Be sure to use fresh chestnuts, and roast them to bring out the flavor.

Chocolate Yule Log

Chocolate Yule Log

Heat your oven to 375 degrees and line a large sheet pan (12 inches by 17 inches by 1 inch) with baking parchment. Set up your faithful stand mixer and beat four large eggs on medium speed for about four minutes. They should be fairly foamy and a uniform light yellow color. All set? Good.

Pour in half a cup of milk, half a cup of water, one-third cup of vegetable oil, and a tablespoon of vanilla. Shake in a box of Devil’s Food cake mix, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a small box of dark chocolate instant pudding. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds, then crank it up to medium for another one and a half minutes, scraping the bowl now and then.

Reserve one and a half cups of batter to bake as cupcakes and spread the remaining batter in your prepared pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes; the top will feel springy when you poke at it. Dust a tea towel with powdered sugar and turn the cake out onto it. Peel away the parchment and carefully roll up the cake and towel together, starting from a long side.

Place the roll on a cooling rack so it doesn’t sweat all over your counter, and prepare the filling. Beat two cups of heavy whipping cream on medium-high speed until it starts to thicken. Add three tablespoons of cream sherry (totally optional) and the chestnut puree. How much? Depends on your taste. I used about three-quarters of a cup. Drop it into the cream by the spoonful, and keep beating until stiff peaks form.

Carefully unroll your cooled cake. It’s OK if it cracks a little; you can spackle it with frosting later. Spread the chestnut cream over the whole cake, right up to the edges. Reserve some to frost your cupcakes when you’re done.

Re-roll your cake. Cut off one quarter of the log at an angle and press it against the side of the longer piece to form a branch. Cover the whole thing with a light coat of your favorite chocolate frosting. Stir in a little more cinnamon, if you’re feeling adventurous. Scratch bark lines along the surface with a fork, add some plastic holly or a marzipan squirrel, and there you go. A new twist on an old favorite.

Enjoy!

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