The iconic Christmas yule log cake, or bûche de Noël, has been on my holiday bucket list for a long time. But the prospect of rolling a sheet of chocolate cake into a log, as the dessert is traditionally made, always seemed like a recipe for disaster in my hectic kitchen. So when I ran across Joy the Baker’s recipe for an easy icebox version, I knew I had to try one and put my own twist on it.
This simple icebox cake is made by freezing cookies with flavored whipped cream. With such a simple ingredient list, you’ll have plenty of time to create a host of fun garnishes. I made cocoa-dusted meringue “mushrooms” and a little bit of crumbled cookie “dirt” for my yule log. Feel free to add on marzipan leaves or berries, or even sugar-coated cranberries or gumdrops.
Chocolate and Caramel Icebox Yule Log Cake
recipe adapted from Joy the Baker
Prep time: 45 minutes, plus 8 hours to chill
Cook time: 15 minutes
Makes: 1 cake that serves 8
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
4 tablespoons melted caramel
30 chocolate wafer cookies (store-bought or homemade), plus more for “dirt” garnish
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
meringue mushrooms (optional)
pinecone and evergreen sprig garnishes (optional)
1. Make caramel whipped cream. With mixer on medium speed, whip 1 cup cream to soft peaks (be careful not to over beat). As cream whips, fold in 1/4 cup powdered sugar. When cream is whipped, fold in melted, cooled caramel.
2. Set out all wafer cookies. Spread each with a generous dollop of caramel whipped cream.
3. On a large sheet of plastic, working in small batches, stack the cookies on their sides to form the log. Set aside a stack of 5 cookies for the knob. Press the log together gently, and wrap tightly with plastic. Wrap the knob in plastic separately. Set both in the freezer and chill for 5 hours, or overnight.
4. Make the chocolate whipped cream. First, melt the bittersweet chocolate, either over a double boiler or in the microwave. Stir in 1/4 cup cream until smooth and set aside to cool. With mixer on medium speed, beat remaining 1 1/4 cups of cream on medium speed. Fold in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and all cocoa powder. Beat just until soft peaks form. Stir in melted chocolate.
5. Remove yule log and knob from freezer and unwrap. Set log on a serving platter or large pan and coat all over with chocolate whipped cream. Affix knob and coat. Surround base of yule log with crumbled cookie “dirt.” Drag fork over the surface to create the bark. Chill log in freezer for 3 hours.
6. Garnish log with meringue mushrooms, pinecones, evergreen sprigs, or garnishes of your choice. Just before serving, remove cake from freezer, sprinkle with powdered sugar, slice, and serve.