Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a decadent yule log complete with twee woodland decorations. Whilst their are no squirrels in this woodland scene, the flavours of this yule log are all about nuts - hazelnuts. We've used hazelnut paste and crispy feuilletine flakes to bring an added layer of texture. The chocolate sponge is coated in this crispy, hazelnut layer and rolled up with a layer of silky smooth hazelnut buttercream. Finally the outer layer, the bark, is made of a dark chocolate ganache.
Our woodland decorations are great fun and easy to make. The Swiss meringue mushrooms may look difficult to pipe but their beauty lies in their imperfections - so if your mushrooms are a little wonky they'll still look the part on top of the yule log. To complete the woodland scene whiz some pistachios in a food processor to make an edible moss which can be sprinkled at the base of the cake.
For the chocolate genoise sponge Serves: 12
- Knob of butter, for greasing
- 150g eggs
- 75g caster sugar
- 80g plain flour
- 35g cocoa powder
For the hazelnut buttercream
- 20g egg yolk
- 60g egg
- 125g unsalted butter, softened
- 90g caster sugar
- 25g water
- 25g hazelnut paste
- 50g double cream
For the hazelnut feuilletine layer
For the chocolate ganache icing
- 200g double cream
- 200g 54% dark chocolate couverture
For the meringue mushrooms
- 50g egg white
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
For the pistachio moss
To make the chocolate genoise sponge
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/
- Line the bottom of the Swiss roll thin with greaseproof paper. Grease the sides with a knob of butter.
- In the metal bowl of a stand mixer heat the eggs and sugar over a pan of simmering water to 55°C. Use a cooking thermometer to monitor the temperature.
- Once it reaches 55°C whisk on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy and leaves ribbon trails in its path (known as the ribbon stage.)
- Sift the flour and cocoa powder together and delicately fold it into the egg mixture using a maryse spatula.
- Tip the mixture onto the Swiss roll tin and distribute evenly and delicately with a spatula.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook the sponge or it will crack as you roll it up.
- Remove from the tin immediately and on a flat surface roll the Swiss roll up loosely to help it learn the shape. Leave to cool in this position.
- Once cool unroll the sponge and gently peel back the layer of greaseproof paper.
To make the hazelnut buttercream
- Begin by softening the butter – leave it at room temperature or cut into pieces and heat on a low heat in the microwave. It should be very soft but not melted.
- Measure out the egg and egg yolk into a stand mixer.
- Heat the water and sugar in a pan on the hob until it reaches 117°C – use a thermapen to monitor the temperature.
- When the sugar syrup reaches 117°C start to whisk the egg mixture. When the syrup reaches 121°C and the eggs are very fluffy pour the syrup over them whilst whisking.
- Whisk on a high speed for 2 minutes, then reduce the speed to medium and continue to mix until the eggs cool and the bowl no longer feels hot.
- Add the softened butter and hazelnut paste and whisk for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Refrigerate for 20 minutes whilst you prepare the hazelnut feuilletine layer.
To make the hazelnut feuilletine layer
- Melt the cream and white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
- Stir in the hazelnut paste, feuilletine and chopped hazelnuts.
- Spread the mixture evenly over the chocolate genoise sponge. As the mixture cools it becomes less easy to spread, if it is too stiff place over a pan of simmering water for a few minutes to make it less viscous.
- Next spread the buttercream over the hazelnut feuilletine layer. Spread the buttercream thinner at both ends and at the sides to avoid it escaping when you roll the Swiss roll up.
- To roll, tuck one end in tightly and roll the sponge into a log shape. Freeze for at least 1 hour before icing.
To make the chocolate ganache icing
- Place the chocolate and the cream in a bowl over a pan of simmering water until the chocolate has melted. Stir to combine.
- Leave to cool to one side and then transfer to the fridge to allow the ganache to harden to a pipeable consistency.
- Place a piping nozzle in a piping bag and fill with the chocolate ganache. Pipe long lines along the outside of the yule log and the occasional swirl to create an authentic wood effect.
- Refrigerate until 30 minutes before serving.
To make the meringue mushrooms
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 70°C.
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place over a pan of simmering water until it reaches 70°C.
- Whisk on high speed until the meringue cools to room temperature.
- Place a piping nozzle in a piping bag and fill with the Swiss meringue. Pipe long thin vertical stems evenly spaced on the baking tray - to do this pipe whilst moving the nozzle upwards to avoid squashing the shape. Use about half of the meringue and save half for the tops of the mushrooms.
- Bake for 15 minutes then pipe the mushroom tops on top of the stems. Keep the piping nozzle in the same place as you pipe to force the mixture to form a mushroom-like shape.
- Sift the cocoa powder lightly over the top of the mushrooms.
- Bake for a further 2 hours, then leave to cool and transfer to an airtight container.
To make the pistachio moss
- Blitz the pistachios to a fine crumb in a food processor.
To assemble the hazelnut yule log
- Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving. Decorate with the pistachio moss and meringue mushrooms and present the yule log on an olive wood board.