Dreaming of France: French Holiday Desserts

Image courtesy of AllRecipes.com.
When I was in junior high, I started taking French as an elective in school.  As part of the French elective, we were encouraged to try extra credit cooking projects that we completed at home and delivered to the class for sampling.  My favorite was the Buche de Noel, or yule log.  Even though I have thought fondly about that delicious chocolate cake many times over the past 20 + years (gasp), I have never attempted to recreate it.  Now, with a daughter in a French immersion program, this year seemed like the perfect time to give it another try.
The first challenge was finding a recipe.  Believe it or not, it is not easy to find a traditional recipe on-line.  It seemed like many that I found were “quick” options that didn’t seem very authentic.  So, I decided to try my hand at adapting one that I found on AllRecipes.com.  I have to admit, mine did not turn out nearly as nice-looking as the photos I saw on-line (see photos below), but it was a hit and I definitely won’t wait another 20 years before trying the recipe again.
Buche de Noel 

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ?1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ?2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • ?7 egg yolks
  • ?1/2 cup white sugar
  • ?1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ?1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ?1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ?7 egg whites
  • ?1/4 cup white sugar
  • ?confectioners’ sugar for dusting


  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 C baking cocoa
  • 2 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons good vanilla extract
  • 5 T milk (or more as needed)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a 10×15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper.
Make the filling:  In a large bowl, whip cream, 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, 2 teaspoons of coffee granules, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until thick and stiff. Refrigerate.
Prepare the cake:  In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale. Blend in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and salt. In large glass bowl, using clean beaters, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, and beat until whites form stiff peaks. Immediately fold the yolk mixture into the whites. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Let cool for 3 minutes (only) in the pan.  Dust a clean dishtowel with confectioners’ sugar. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and turn the warm cake out onto the towel. Remove and discard parchment paper. Starting at the short edge of the cake, roll the cake up with the towel. Cool for 30 minutes.
Mix the frosting:  Place all frosting ingredients a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth.
When the cake is completely cool, unroll the cake, and spread the filling to within 1/2 inch of the edge. Roll the cake up with the filling inside.  Place seam side down onto a serving plate.  Frost with a silver knife, dipping in hot water as needed to smooth.  Then, use the back of a fork to create lines that look like tree bark.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.