I’ve received so many emails from retailers in the last week, telling me who makes the best Christmas cake, or mince pies or Yule logs, that I’ve decided that rather than pay an exorbitant amount for something too sweet and packed with festive e-numbers, I’ll make my own Christmas treat.
And this year I’ve plumped for the Yule Log.
Not the classic French concoction with sweetened chestnut puree (I’m not keen on chestnut puree), but a light chocolate sponge, filled with black cherry conserve and whipped cream, covered with a chocolate ganache and decorated with plain chocolate shards.
It’s easy to make, but dramatic to look at - a real Christmas showstopper.
This could be just the thing your family and guests are still talking about later on while watching the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special.
There is no need to whisk egg yolks and whites separately. Just whisk the whole eggs and sugar together to get plenty of air in them, then fold in the dryingredients, pour into your tin and bake. Easy peasy!
I don’t add sugar to the whipped cream, and the black cherry conserve gives a slight tang to balance the sweetness.
The drama of this simple but delicious chocolate Swiss roll, comes from the decoration.
A chocolate ganache made with dark and milk chocolate, studded with long dark chocolate shards. It looks like a log from a forest in Lord of The Rings!
Give it a go. It’s a lot easier to make than it looks and will definately have the wow factor on your Christmas table.
When everything is just amalgamated, pour into the prepared tin.
Level out with a spatula, making sure you get into the corners of the tin, and give a couple of taps on the work surface to remove any rogue air bubbles that have risen to the surface.
Bake in a 180℃/160℃ fan oven for about 7-10 minutes.Because the cake is quite shallow and very aerated it doesn’t take long to bake, so keep a check on it, especially after 7-8 minutes. I know you’re sick of me saying this, but all ovens are different and the timings I give you are for my particular oven, so yours may well (and probably will) be slightly different.
Go with what you know!
A good test is when you think the sponge is ready, touch it gently with your finger, and if it springs straight back, it’s done.
Melt the cream and chocolate together in the same pan, stirring well, until smooth and combined.
Leave to cool, whisking occasionally, until you reach the consistency you need.
You will need a spreading consistency in this case.
As the ganache cools (especially refrigerated), it will firm up.
It is ready to use when it thickens to a spreading consistency.
For the chocolate Shards
200g 70% quality dark chocolate
Break the chocolate into even chunks and put in a microwavable bowl.
Microwave on medium/low setting (360W) for about 5 minutes. It should have started to melt around the edges. Stir, and replace in the microwave for another 3-4 minutes.
Take out and give a good stir until any small lumps have melted and you have a smooth, glossy mixture.
If you don't have a microwave, melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan with gently simmering hot water, making sure the base of the bowl isn't touching the water. Stir occasionally until smooth.
Cool for 5 minutes, then pour out into a baking parchment lined baking tin.
When the chocolate is firm but a little pliable, tear off long strips, the more jagged the better. Don’t worry if they break into smaller pieces, they will all look great on the Swiss roll. (see photo)
When you think you have enough to cover 3 sides of the cake (you don’t need any for the base), put in a container in the fridge to harden and crisp.
Take the Swiss roll out of the fridge and cover the sides evenly with ganache. Depending on how much you like ganache, layer it on thick or thin. (see photo)
Before the ganache firms up, carefully ‘stick’ the chocolate shards along the sides and top, to give a dramatic appearance. (see photo)