From The Tree: Chocolate & Chestnut Log

Posted at December 2, 2011 by 0 Comment

With just one month to Christmas day as of last week, I began contemplating a suitable alternative to Christmas pudding in advance of the festive preparations this year; something rich and a little bit boozy but not too sweet, that bypassed the cinnamon and dried fruit of the usual seasonal fare. Christmas pudding has never been a favourite of mine and I wanted something that fully capitalised on the opportunities for indulgence that accompany Christmas time and that still felt a little traditional. I chose the chestnut – that most festive of nuts – as a starting point for inspiration ‘from the tree’ and then looked to food of Christmas past to get the rest.

As a child, I always chose chocolate log over any other Christmas dessert; a thick slice soaked in cream and eaten rather swiftly despite the significant over-indulgence that had preceded it. So, for a double hit of tree-inspired sweetness, I decided to give my childhood favourite an overhaul and make it a little more grown up, with brandy, chestnuts and bitter dark chocolate.

Taking a few cues from ‘Cake Boy’ Eric Lanlard and the ever reliable Delia for the chocolate sponge I got to work on a variation of Buche de Noel, the traditional French Yule log

Chocolate and Chestnut log

Serves 8-10 (if you just have the one slice each)
Prep Time: 30mins pre-cooking prep, 10mins assembly, 20mins decoration
Cooking Time: 20mins

For the sponge base
(Delia Smith’s recipe)

6 large eggs
150g Caster sugar
50g Cocoa powder, sifted
A little icing sugar

For the Filling

250-300ml double cream150g chestnut puree
25-50ml brandy
1-2tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp finely grated dark chocolate
3 or 4 finely chopped chestnuts

For the Decoration

250g Dark Chocolate
Icing Sugar
Decorations of your choice


1. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a 13 x 9 inch swiss roll tin with baking parchment.

2. Start off your sponge by separating the eggs – whites in a large bowl and yolks in a smaller one.

3. Using an electric whisk, whisk the yolks until they start to thicken and get paler then add in the sugar and whisk further until thick (but not stiff). Now, add the sifted cocoa powder and whisk until well incorporated.

4. Wash and dry the whisk heads well (make sure there is absolutely no grease on them or your egg whites won’t get the volume you need). Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then spoon around two tablespoons of the whites into the chocolate mixture.

5 Mix the whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it and then carefully fold the loosened chocolate mixture into the rest of the egg whites. Cut and fold the mixture until everything is combined, being careful to keep as much air in the mixture as possible.

6. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20mins or until it has risen and feels springy to the touch. It should not colour too much.

7. Take it out of the oven and leave to cool completely – you can do this either in the tin or lift the sponge out but do not remove the lining paper yet. The cake will sink as it cools and this is normal.

8. Place a sheet of baking paper, around 1 inch larger than the swiss roll tin on all sides, on the work surface and sprinkle with icing sugar. Loosen the sides of the paper on the cake and turn it out onto the sugared paper. Peel off the backing paper and discard.

9. For the filling, whip the cream ‘halfway’ so it’s just slightly thickened and then add the chestnut puree – either loosened a little either by mixing or broken into small pieces so it can be incorporated. Also add the brandy and icing sugar to taste, I added just a tablespoon as I prefer my desserts not to be too sweet but if you have a sweeter tooth just add more. Then whip the cream mixture together to a spreadable consistency.

10. Spread the cream over the cake, leaving a little room at the edges. Sprinkle over the chocolate and chopped chestnuts.

11. To roll, fold the short end of the paper closest to you over to start the cake rolling, moving toward the other shorter edge away from you as you go- use the edges of the paper to keep the roll straight as you take the cake over on itself – rolling as tightly as you can. Be sure to hold the paper out of the way of the cream as you roll so that it doesn’t get taken into the log.

Rolled Chocolate and Chestnut log before decoration

12. Leave the rolled log on the paper and place it on the paper on to the now cool baking tray or a plate and place in the fridge to cool further before decorating

13. To decorate, melt the chocolate slowly in a bowl over a saucepan of hot (not boiling) water. Once melted but cool, take the log out of the fridge and use a spoon or spatula to drizzle chocolate over the top of the log from end to end, easing it down the sides slowly so that it follows the curve all the way down to the paper. Once the whole log is covered in chocolate, drag the spatula or spoon lightly over the chocolate to add texture. As the cake has cooled in the fridge the chocolate should set fairly quickly and this makes adding texture easier as the chocolate is not dragged away by the movement.

15. Finally, once the covering has set, garnish with decorations of your choice and dust with icing sugar. I piped cooled melted chocolate onto greaseproof paper to make some tree-themed shapes including leaves, birds and a few squirrels, which were then stuck on to the log with dark chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Chestnut Log with decoration

16. The cake should keep in the fridge for a few days (if you can avoid eating it all before then).


Category : Recipes,Themed
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About Emily

I like to experiment with ingredients and make something new and exciting with things otherwise old and familiar. Food is a big part of my day to day life and in the family so it's always very social - nothing better than good food and good company to make time fly. I'm something of a competitive cook and like to perfect my own versions of recipes through trial, error and practice so weekends are usually filled with one food-based project or another, and making a lot of mess... I geek out over: Old Cookbooks, Unusual Ingredients, Bread Making Twitter: @trudy_peaches

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