Not all Buches de Noel (Yule Logs) are equal.
Some like this one from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook (Rodale, September 2013) stand out. It will be worth the time you put in.
SERVES 8 TO 10
Think of dessert as the centerpiece of your holiday table. Yule logs are traditionally served at Christmastime. Decorated with Mushroom Meringues (page 60), they look like a log in the forest. Using this bûche de Noel (the classic name for this dessert) as a centerpiece saves you time. You can give the hot glue gun a rest.
Softened butter and all-purpose flour for the pan
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
11/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour (spooned into cup and leveled off)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur (such as crème de framboise)
2 tablespoons cold water
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) plain unflavored gelatin
1 package (10 ounces) frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
Mushroom Meringues (page 60), for decorating
Confectioners' sugar for dusting, optional
To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 10 × 15-inch jelly-roll pan. Line with waxed paper. Butter and flour the paper. Place a large kitchen towel on a work surface. Dust the towel with the confectioners' sugar.
In a large metal bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and salt until combined. Gradually whisk in the granulated sugar. Place the bowl over, not in, a pan of simmering water and whisk (by hand) until the mixture is warm (about 115°F on an instant-read thermometer).
Transfer the bowl to the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed for 4 minutes, or until thick, light in color, and about tripled in volume.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, and cocoa powder. With a strainer, sift one-third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and gently fold it in by hand. Repeat two more times.
Scrape the mixture into the jelly-roll pan and, with a small offset spatula, evenly spread the batter in the pan. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Immediately turn the cake onto the kitchen towel and carefully peel off the waxed paper. Starting at one short end, roll up the cake and towel together. Let cool on a wire rack.
To make the filling: In a small bowl, combine the liqueur and cold water. Sprinkle the gelatin over it and let stand for 5 minutes, or until softened.
In a food processor, combine the raspberries and jam and puree. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the seeds. Transfer the puree to a small saucepan and heat over low heat. Add the gelatin mixture, stirring until melted. Let cool to room temperature.
In a bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in the raspberry mixture. Refrigerate, whisking occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until it's beginning to set up but still spreadable.
Unroll the cake and spread the raspberry mixture over the cake, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Starting at one short end, roll the cake up jelly-roll fashion.
To make the chocolate glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the chocolate, butter, and honey and cook over low heat until melted, stirring until smooth. Scrape into a bowl and let cool until of a spreading consistency.
To assemble the cake: Cut off about 11/2 inches from each end of the cake on a shallow angle and set the pieces aside. Spread the glaze on the cake. Place the reserved pieces of cake on the top of the "log," angled side down and spread with the glaze. Refrigerate until set and decorate with Mushroom Meringues. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.
(* Recipe reproduced with permission from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell-published by Rodale-September 2013- Photographer:Paulette Tavormina)