If you haven't tried this classic holiday dessert because you thought it required advanced baking and pastry skill, then get ready to buche up this Noel, since the techniques required are actually quite simple. This classic holiday dessert is a showstopper, but it's often better looking than it is tasting, which is not the case here, thanks to a simple-to-make, rich chocolate sponge cake, and mocha buttercream filling. Garnished here with meringue mushrooms and rosemary.

Recipe Summary

prep:
50 mins
cook:
10 mins
additional:
2 hrs 30 mins
total:
3 hrs 30 mins
Servings:
10
Yield:
1 13-inch Yule log
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Ingredients

10
Original recipe yields 10 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
For the Filling:
For the Sponge Cake:
For the Ganache Frosting:

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Whip powdered sugar, butter, cocoa powder, salt, and coffee liqueur together in the bowl of a stand mixer on high speed. Transfer buttercream into a separate bowl and add mascarpone cheese. Mix until combined; set aside.

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  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Brush a little melted butter over a 13x18-inch rimmed sheet pan. Line pan with parchment paper and brush remaining melted butter on top.

  • Combine cocoa powder, salt, and flour together in a bowl; whisk or sift to break up clumps.

  • Place eggs in the clean bowl of your stand mixer. Add sugar and whip until fluffy, thick, and very light in color. Add 1/2 of the cocoa powder mixture and vanilla extract; mix on low speed for a few seconds. Beat in remaining cocoa mixture on low for a few seconds. Switch to high speed; stop once mixture is moistened but not fully blended. Pull off the whisk attachment and whisk batter with it until evenly blended.

  • Pour batter onto the prepared sheet pan and spread out with a spatula, leaving some room around the edges. Tap pan on the counter to knock out the large bubbles.

  • Bake in the preheated oven until top is dry and edges start to pull away from the sides, 8 to 10 minutes.

  • Dust a clean kitchen towel with enough powdered sugar to cover an area slightly larger than the sponge cake. Remove cake from the oven. Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle some powdered sugar over the top. Run a spatula under the parchment paper to make sure it's not stuck to the pan.

  • Quickly flip pan on top of the sugared area to invert the cake. Remove parchment paper and dust cake with more powdered sugar. Gently roll cake up inside the towel; allow to cool for 15 minutes.

  • Unroll cake and dollop buttercream on top, reserving some for later. Spread frosting to the edges. Roll cake up over the frosting, using the towel to lift it if needed. Sprinkle more powdered sugar on top. Wrap log in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

  • Combine chocolate chips and hot cream in a bowl. Let sit for 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate melts.

  • Make an angled cut 3 inches from one end of the log. Place log on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Apply some buttercream to the angled slice and attach it to one side. Spread a layer of ganache all over the cake, except for the swirls. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up ganache.

  • Carve lines into the ganache using the tip of a knife to create the appearance of tree bark. Refrigerate until completely chilled before serving. Dust with cocoa powder and powdered sugar.

Chef's Notes:

I thought mine had too much buttercream, so I'd probably use two-thirds for this and save the rest for cupcakes.

If you have a favorite frosting or filling, it will work here. As long as you can slice it later, pretty much anything goes. You can also add a splash of milk to achieve a light, fluffy buttercream.

You can also drizzle the baked sponge with many delicious, possibly adult beverages, such as dark rum, kirsch, or raspberry liqueur, just to name a few.

Nutrition Facts

526 calories; protein 6.4g; carbohydrates 55.7g; fat 33.7g; cholesterol 165.4mg; sodium 245.4mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (75)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
12/26/2018
substituted 1 pkg cream cheese + 1/3 cup sour cream for mascarpone, and added 1 tsp vanilla for filling. Read More
(12)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
12/31/2019
This cake is way too dense the filling and the ganache recipes are great though. Read More
91 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 72
  • 4 star values: 17
  • 3 star values: 1
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 5 stars
12/26/2018
substituted 1 pkg cream cheese + 1/3 cup sour cream for mascarpone, and added 1 tsp vanilla for filling. Read More
(12)
Rating: 5 stars
12/25/2018
I am sensitive to caffeine and I hate the flavor of alcohol so I replaced the coffee liquor with milk and cherry syrup. It came out delicious! No cracks either which is a surprise to me since this was my first cake roll. Chef John gives the best instructions! Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
12/26/2018
I have made Yule Logs several times over the years and have struggled with a few cook book recipes and lesser on-line ones. This one is straight forward! The entertaining video reminded me of techniques from the years prior and gave me some new ones. This one is a keeper and one I will use in years to come! Read More
(1)
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Rating: 4 stars
01/01/2019
I made this as written with the exception of coffee flavor. The cake cracked and broke badly but I was able to save it by spreading on the filling and rolling the cake up. The taste was wonderful and the frosting saved the look of the cake. I will make this again. Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
12/20/2019
This guy is so pleasant to listen to encouraging. I am going to give this a go! Read More
(1)
Rating: 4 stars
12/25/2018
I made it as it was written except that I didn't have (could not find) mascarpone cheese so I substituted cream cheese and the buttercream was delicious. I'm not sure if there are differences in coffee liqueur as I could only find kahlua.:) It was pretty easy to make. But I'm glad I have made pumpkin rolls as I knew what to expect and have never made a Yule log before. I would let the cake cool for more than 15 min after it is rolled up as it was almost too warm to work with and then cracked as I re-rolled it with the buttercream frosting in. I think it made plenty of frosting but I didn't save the extra as I made it in advance and ended up using ganache to seal the two pieces together. It makes a lot of ganache. You could almost halve that amount unless you have plans for the extra. I made some little truffles as not to be wasteful. As far as flavor - this is a very rich cake! It was fun to make and if I want another Yule log for festivities this will be the recipe I use. Read More
(1)
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Rating: 5 stars
01/12/2019
Sub ed a basic chocolate buttercream for the filling (didn t have marscapone on-hand) but will use the included filling recipe next bake. Was a definite hit! Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
01/01/2019
Made this for Christmas and my husband loved it so much he wants this for his birthday! The buttercream and ganache were perfect; not too sweet. The addition of the mascarpone and Kaluha puts it over the top! Well done Chef John! A new tradition has been born! Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
12/25/2018
I made this Yule Log for my family Christmas Eve party and it was a hit! This cake was delicious! It was gobbled up quickly and everyone loved it! I received many compliments on the look of it and how good it tasted. My ganache was a bit lighter than Chef John's because I had to whip it for a bit to get it to thicken up but it turned out fine because the cake was so rich. I left out the coffee and just replaced it with milk since I hate that flavor. This was so fun to make and I will definitely be making this again! Read More
(1)
Rating: 3 stars
12/31/2019
This cake is way too dense the filling and the ganache recipes are great though. Read More
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