The yule log is such an iconic dessert for the holidays. The French call it Bûche de Noël. It is a sponge cake with a cream filling rolled and frosted to resembled a log. I have made countless number of roulades before – it is even in my cookbook, but this is the first yule log I have ever made.
I bake with many different kinds alcohol, they add depth in various applications. (You should look at my liquor shelf.) I recently added Amarula Cream Liqueur to the collection. Amarula Cream Liqueur is authentically African: made with uncultivated, sun-ripened, handpicked, organic fruit of the Marula tree. It has light caramel colour. Indulge in the rich and velvety smooth taste with hints of vanilla and caramel and the exotic, natural Marula fruit (which adds a lingering hint of nuttiness). The liqueur is distilled and 2 years matured in aged French oak casks. It also has a distinctive, well rounded and creamy in texture and taste. Enjoy neat, with ice (which I like), infused in cocktails, or added to hot drinks like coffee, tea and hot chocolate. In this recipe, I decided use it as a cream for the whipped ganache in the yule log and it is delicious with the spiced pears, making a great dessert for the holidays.
Disclosure: this blog post is a partnership sponsored by Amarula cream liqueur. Please drink and enjoy responsibly.
Amarula Ganache and Spiced Pear Yule Log
Whipped Amarula Ganache
- 1¾ cup chopped white couverture chocolate preferrably Valrhona Ivoire (240 grams)
- ¾ cup whipping cream
- 1 tbsp liquid honey
- ½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
- ½ cup Amarula Cream Liqueur
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp whipping cream, cold
Chocolate Sponge cake
- 5 large egg yolks room temperature
- Scant 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 40 ml whole milk lukewarm
- 40 ml water room temperature
- 50 ml canola oil
- ¾ cup cake flour
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 5 large egg whites room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 cups diced Anjou pears about 1½ pears, ripe but firm
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp lemon zest
Whipped Amarula Ganache
- Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. A note about chocolate: this recipe was made with a white couverture chocolate that contains at least 31% cocoa butter, which is higher than most eating chocolate such as chocolate bars. The cocoa butter sets the ganache in the recipe therefore it is important to use a couverture chocolate and not eating chocolate.
- Place the whipping cream, vanilla seeds, and honey into a small saucepan. Cook it over medium heat until it is sligthly simmering. Do not boil the cream, as it might cause splitting in the ganache.
- Pour the hot cream into the chocolate, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and let it sit for 1-2 minutes. Slowly stir the chocolate from the middle using a rubber spatula. When the chocolate has all melted and mixture become smooth, incorporate the Amarula Cream Liqueur and cold cream. Transfer the mixture into a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Place the ganache in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight before using.
- When ready to assemble the cake, place the ganache into a bowl and whip on high speed in a stand mixer or hand mixer with the whisk attachment for about a minute until the ganache increases in volume and is light in texture and colour.
Chocolate Sponge Cake
- Line the bottom of a half pan (18 by 13 inch) with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 F and set a rack to the center of the oven.
- Place the egg yolk in a medium bowl, add the sugar and whisk until it becomes pale in colour. Add in the milk, water, and oil. Whisk until the lquid is cohesive. Sift in the dry ingredients – cake four, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and shiny. Do not overmix, otherwise the cake might become dense and dry.
- Place the egg whites in a stand mixer bowl. Whip the egg whites with a whisk attachment on high until the egg whites become frothy. You can also use a hand mixer for this. Sprinkle in the sugar in three addtions, mixing throughly before adding the next. Whip the egg whites and sugar to a soft peak stage – when you lift up the whisk the tips should be firm but falls back slightly.
- When the egg whites are ready, mix in a third of it into the flour mixture with a whisk until the batter is cohesive. Lightly fold in the rest of the egg whites using a rubber spatula until well combined. Careful not to overmix to deflat the batter too much.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spread and smooth the batter with an offset spatula or a bench scraper. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until the cake is set. You can test the center with a toothpick, if it comes out clean, it is ready. Cool the cake before assembling.
- Place the sugar in a small saucepan, and cook it over medium high heat. Without stirring the sugar, slowly swirl the pan while it caramelized to an amber colour.
- Stir in the diced pears and cook until the liquid reduces about one-third. Take the pears off the heat, and stir in the spices and lemon zest. Let it cool until ready to assemble.
- Run a paring knife around the edge of the cake. Carefully flip the cake onto a clean parchment paper. Carefully peel off the parchment paper baked onto the bottom of the cake that is now facing up.
- Spread about half of the ganache onto the sponge cake sheet. Spinkle the spiced pears evenly onto the ganache. Store the reserved half of the ganache in the fridge.
- Lift the parchment paper to roll the cake from the bottom long end. Roll as you lift off the paper, trying to roll it as tightly as you can, without pressing out the ganache. You can use a rolling pin to help if you wish.Wrap the rolled cake in the parchment and fold in the ends. Transfer the cake into the fridge to chill and set for at least an hour before cutting into it.
- Transfer the chilled cake onto a serving platter. Cut off an inch from each end (or more to make it fit on your platter), and make an angled cut 3 inches from the other end of the log. Position this onto the side of the log making it resemble a cut-off branch. Place parchment paper strips around the cake if you wish to keep the platter clean. Spread the rest of the ganache onto the cake with a small offset spatula. Carve lines into the ganache using the spatula to create the appearance of tree bark. Refrigerate until completely chilled before serving. Decorate the log with shaved chocolate and gold flakes if desired.
I really love the citrus fruitiness and nuttiness of the liqueur with the creamy velvet white chocolate ganache. The caramel-toffee notes in the of the Amarula Cream Liqueur also brings out the spices in the caramelized pears. The chocolate flavour in the sponge is not pronounced yet the dessert would be completely different without it.
Amarula is a gift from the marula tree made to be (shared, mixed, savoured) this holiday season. If you live in BC, Canada (like me), Amarula Cream Liqueur is available in both 750 ml and 375 ml bottles, the smaller makes a perfect stocking stuffer. Gift packs are also available at BC Liquor stores with two stemless glasses! The perfect gift to grab on your way to a holiday party for the host/ess.
More seasonal cake recipes from the blog:
- Olive Oil Chiffon Cake with Meyer Lemon Curd
- Honey Persimmon Gingerbread Cake
- Simple Lemon Orange Teacake
Whatever your holiday ritual is, I wish you a safe and happy holiday with lots of joy in the new year 🙂