I hope you’re holding up alright through this never ending pandemic. Unbelievable.
A great dessert is a great distraction.
Bring some cheer to your table with this lovely Caramel Espresso Yule Log. A light vanilla cake gets filled with a thick, rich caramel cream with a hint of coffee flavor. It’s then topped off with a decadent bittersweet ganache fashioned to look like log. Bonus is that it can be made ahead.
Caramel Espresso Yule Log
Caramel Espresso Filling (recipe follows)
Vanilla Cake (recipe follows)
Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows)
1. Remove the chilled caramel-espresso filling from the refrigerator and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer.
2. Beat the filling on high speed until it is thickened to the consistency of a buttercream icing, about 2 minutes.
3. Carefully unroll the cake and spread the filling over it. Leave a 1/2 inch margin on each of the short sides. Reroll the cake taking the towel out while rolling.
4. Wrap the cake roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes or up to 2 days.
5. Place two 12 x 4-inch strips of parchment paper 1 inch apart on a serving plate. (To keep it clean when icing with the ganache later).
6. Remove plastic wrap from cake. On a work surface, use a sharp knife to trim a 1/2 inch slice from each end of the log. Clean the knife between cuts.
Eat Discard the trimmings.
7. To make the branch stump, cut one end of the cake at a 45 degree angle, starting 1.5 inches from end of log (shorter side of stump will be 1.5 inches long).
8. Transfer the larger cake piece to the serving plate. To attach stump, place its straight side against the side of the log. Use some ganache to fill in the space between the two cake pieces.
9. Use an offset spatula to spread the rest of the ganache over the log. Leave the cut ends exposed.
10. Use the tines of a fork to make the ganache resemble wood. Slide the parchment pieces out from under the cake.
11. Refrigerate the cake, uncovered, for 20 minutes to set ganache or up to 24 hours. Remove from refrigerator for about 20 minutes before serving.
Caramel Espresso Filling
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 tablespoon espresso powder
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces and softened
1. Pour 1 cup of the heavy cream into a large bowl.
2. In a small saucepan, whisk together the remaining cup of heavy cream and the espresso powder. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.
3. Bring sugar, water and corn syrup to a boil in another saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, without stirring, for about 7 minutes and the mixture is a light golden color. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook another 5 minutes or until the mixture is deep brown in color. (The original recipe says to leave it until it just begins to smoke, but I took it off the heat before this happened as I was afraid of burning the mix).
4. After removing the sugar mixture from the heat, stir in the hot espresso-cream mixture. (The caramel will bubble up and steam, so be careful). Add cream cheese, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk until mostly smooth (some little bits of cream cheese may remain) then transfer the mixture into the bowl with the heavy cream. Stir, cover, and refrigerate for 1.5 hours or up to 4 days.
1 1/3 cups cake flour
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, separated
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease an 18 x 13-inch rimmed baking sheet, then line with parchment paper. Lightly grease the parchment.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks, oil, water and vanilla and whisk until the batter is smooth.
3. Use a stand mixer to whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar on low speed for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.
4. Transfer about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the cake batter. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the whites in. Fold in the remaining whipped egg whites.
5. Pour batter onto prepared baking sheet and spread to even it out. Rap the sheet on the counter 3 times to remove any big air bubbles.
6. Bake for 15 minutes or until the center of cake springs back when lightly pressed.
7. While the cake bakes, soak a tea towel in water and thoroughly wring out.
8. Transfer the baked cake to a wire rack. Immediately run a knife around the edge of the sheet to loosen cake. Gently invert cake onto a second wire rack. Lay the damp towel over the cake and invert first wire rack over towel. Invert cake and remove rack.
9. Starting from short side, gently roll the cake and the towel together into a jelly roll shape.
10. Let cake cook on rack, seam side down, for 1 hour.
Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache
¾ cup heavy cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer.
2. Place chocolate and corn syrup in a bowl then pour the hot cream over the top. Let stand for 1 minute.
3. Whisk chocolate mixture until smooth. Let cool for 1 hour or until it is the consistency of pudding.
Recipes from Cooks Illustrated
From Local H’s ‘Awesome Quarantine Mix-Tape #3’ is this emotional cover of Fountains Of Wayne’s “Hackensack”. The original is pure perfection, but Local H give the song a poignant turn.
In homage to the very much missed Adam Schlesinger (founding member of FOW who died of coronavirus complications in 2020), Local H’s frontman Scott Lucas explains how the song carries more emotional weight now.
“It no longer felt like a song about a guy who carries a torch for an old high school crush. Suddenly, it was a hymn to the people we’d lost.”
Check out Local H on the band’s Website where you can learn of upcoming shows in the US and buy their music.