I just ate a piece of this cake for breakfast. Yup, no shame. I don’t usually do this with the foods I photograph in the morning. But, I made an exception with this cake. It’s Christmas and I am sure Santa would want me to enjoy a piece.
This Christmas yule log is a bit different than most – it is very light in the center, and has the most decadent, gorgeous ganache on the outside to compliment the very chocolate cake it is wrapped in. If you are not a fan of traditional Christmas cake (or just forgot to start making it a month in advance like is required), then this is a stellar alternative. It is a bit finicky, and takes some effort. But it will impress on Christmas Day, I am sure of it.
for the cake
6 egg yolks
3/4 cups sugar
6 egg whites
1 cup loosely packed cocoa powder, sifted
a pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs cognac
for the ganache
226g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cups whipping cream
2 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pinch salt
2 tsp Cyprus Coffee or regular coffee
1/2 tsp vanilla
for the praline
1 cup sugar
1 cup almonds
4 tbs water
water for coating the sides of the saucepan
for the filling
1 cup whipping cream
1.5 tbs icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup praline
1. prepare the praline: Place the sugar and 4 tbs water on a hot stove. With a brush, brush the sides of the inside of the saucepan with water – (this is to prevent the sugar from crystallizing on the sides of the pan). Don’t stir the mixture, just move the pan back and forth by moving the handle of the pan back and forth. When the mixture begins to change colour to a light yellow add the almonds. Continue to move the saucepan back and forth by holding its handle until it turns a nice caramel colour. Pour the mixture onto a silpat and let cool until hard. Once hard, break into tiny pieces.
2. prepare the cake: Preheat oven to 190C and line a 10-inch by 15-inch pan with baking paper. Grease the baking paper with butter. Beat half the sugar and the egg yolks until the mixture becomes pale and fluffy, usually about 6 minutes. Continue to mix and add the salt, vanilla and cognac. Then continue to mix and add the cocoa powder. Place aside. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue to mix while adding the rest of the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Then stir in 1/2 cup of the egg white mixture into the chocolate egg yolk mixture. Gentle fold in the remaining egg whites. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour the mixture into the baking sheet. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until the cake is springy. Remove from the oven. It will slightly deflate – but this is OK. Then, turn the cake out onto a kitchen towel which was been dusted with cocoa powder. You can do this on your own, but if you have someone who can help you it is easier. Using the towel, roll the cake into a long cylinder. Put aside and let completely cool.
3. prepare the ganache: Add the chocolate, butter and salt to a bowl. Gently heat the whipping cream until it lightly simmers, then pour it into the chocolate mixture. Add the coffee and vanilla. Stir until the mixture becomes smooth and consistent. Let it cool so it becomes thicker so that you can spread it over top the cake. You may need to put the mixture in the fridge for a little bit.
5. complete the cake assembly: Unroll the cake. Spread the whipping cream mixture over top the cake. Sprinkle the broken praline on top. Then use the towel again to roll the cake into a long cylinder. Place the log onto the serving tray – or baking paper so that you can make the cake to another dish later. Spread ganache over top the cake. Dust with powdered sugar and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. And take a picture – it’s an accomplishment!