last year was the first and only year that i have hosted christmas. granted there were only four of us, including a six month old, but it was still the first time jason and i cooked christmas eve and christmas dinner at our house. while we decided early on to have ham for dinner, i became slightly obsessed with finding the perfect christmas dessert. my mother has made what we affectionately call chocolate log - chocolate sponge cake filled and covered with chocolate buttercream - for years, i have never made a rolled cake before. luckily i had been around more than once to help prepare the chocolate log and learned her trick to prevent any rolled cake from cracking. and while this is a bit late for your christmas gathering, it would be perfect for a new years eve party as it can easily serve a lot of people or your new years eve dinner.
the secret: roll up the still warm cake in a clean kitchen towel dusted with flour as soon as the cake is cool enough to handle. the cake will cool rolled up. spreading the filling is a bit tricky, as the cake has to be unrolled from the towel, filled, and rerolled. but it won't crack. worked perfectly for me.
and while this cake was no chocolate log - can we ever make something truly as good as our mother's version? - it was a good runner up.
peppermint yule log
click the link to get the recipe at king arthur flour.
instead of frosting my cake with the same peppermint filling, i chose to slather mine with my favorite whipped chocolate ganache frosting. if you go that route, i suggest making a half recipe of the ganache frosting (leftovers freeze well) and a half recipe of the peppermint filling from king arthur. i only used half of the filling (freezing the rest) and as you can see, still had plenty in the middle of my cake.