Saturday, December 19, 2009

Yule-Tide cake

How to Make a Yule Log

Begin by wrapping the log loosely with the ribbon. Leave enough space that you can insert your branches, cuttings and feathers under the ribbon. In our house, we place five feathers on our Yule log – one for each member of the family. Once you’ve gotten your branches and cuttings in place, begin gluing on the pine cones, cinnamon sticks and berries. Add as much or as little as you like. Remember to keep the hot glue gun away from small children.
Once you’ve decorated your Yule log, the question arises of what to do with it. For starters, use it as a centerpiece for your holiday table. A Yule log looks lovely on a table surrounded by candles and holiday greenery.
Another way to use your Yule log is to burn it as our ancestors did so many centuries ago. In our family, before we burn our log we each write down a wish on a piece of paper, and then insert it into the ribbons. It’s our wish for the upcoming year, and we keep it to ourselves in hopes that it will come true.
If you have a fireplace, you can certainly burn your Yule log in it, but we prefer to do ours outside. We have a fire pit in the back yard, and on the night of the winter solstice .

Yule log cake

The Yule log is a traditional feature of most winter solstice celebrations. In addition to making one you can burn in your fireplace, why not whip together a tasty chocolate one for dessert? This super-easy recipe uses a boxed cake mix as its base, and can be put together ahead of time for your Yule celebration dinner. Chill overnight for easy slicing the next day.

• 1 box chocolate cake mix, along with ingredients as called for
• 1 cup whipping cream
• 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• 2 tsp. instant coffee granules
• 1 stick butter
• 16 oz. semi-sweet baker's chocolate
• 2/3 cup heavy cream
• Spearmint leaf jelly candies
• Cinnamon red hots
• Mini marshmallows & chocolate kisses (optional)
Prepare the cake mix according to the instructions on the box. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, pour the batter out onto the paper, and spread until it reaches the edges. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, or until cake is firm and springy - be sure you don't over bake it!
Allow cake to cool in pan for ten minutes, then invert it onto a cloth towel dusted with powdered sugar. Peel off the parchment paper. Roll the cake up inside the cloth towel, starting with one of the short sides. Let the rolled-up cake cool completely on a wire rack.
While the cake cools, mix up the filling. This particular blend is a coffee-flavored variety that I adapted from a tiramasu recipe, but you can replace the coffee with cocoa if you prefer more chocolate. Blend the whipping cream, powdered sugar and coffee granules together to form the filling. Chill until thick and firm. After the cake has completely cooled, gently unroll the cake from the towel. Remove the towel, and spread the filling over one side of the cake, stopping about a half inch from the edge. Roll the cake back up -- this should be easy, since it cooled in a rolled-up form. Place the cake on a serving platter and allow to chill for a couple of hours.
To make the frosting, melt the butter in a double boiler and then add the chocolate. Once the chocolate has all melted, stir in the heavy cream. Let the icing sit at room temperature until it's a little thick. Spread on the cake, covering the entire roll, and then drag a fork through the icing to create a bark-like appearance on your log.
Add a couple of spearmint leaves and red hots to form clusters of holly on the log. If you'd like to add "mushrooms" to your log, stick a toothpick through a miniature marshmallow, and then poke it into the flat side of a chocolate kiss. Snip off the pointy part of the kiss, and you'll have a small mushroom. Use the toothpick to stick these on top of your log.
If you're not going to serve immediately, wrap the cake in loose plastic and refrigerate overnight. Allow the cake to sit out for about an hour before slicing.