Goodbye, November. You’ve been good, busy, exciting, tiring. I cooked more fresh pasta than in the whole cooking class season, I stirred many a risotto for cosy dinners in front of the fireplace, I baked batches of cookies and crusty bread loaves for breakfast.
Welcome, December. Now, I have great expectations, December. I am a dreamer, I start listening to Christmas music as soon as I wear my first scarf, so, December, you might imagine how I was longing for this time of the year.
I see December as a white canvas. I want to live each day to celebrate my favourite time of the year, planning menus, decorating the Christmas tree, thinking about everyone I love. Music, movies, books, lights, cookies, food, colours, family, friends. I’ve always loved how everything comes together in December, I feel the magic, I seek the magic.
We’ve been planning December on Juls’ Kitchen for a while now, we want to live this month with you, sharing warmth, ideas, smiles and love. We begin with a video recipe, a new one after such a long time, for one of the most traditional Christmas desserts, a Yule log.
Chestnut and ricotta Yule log
We’ve been making Swiss rolls since I was a child, it was our go-to dessert to bring to a dinner party with friends because it would please both adults and children. It was a special treat we would have in the afternoon with our tea during school time, a break we would long for while making our home works.
More simple than you would expect, this cake is also adaptable to the season and to your pantry. You can spread the sponge cake with your favourite jam, with whipped cream and crushed berries in summer, with our thick Italian custard for a more gentle flavour, or with the crowd-pleasing chocolate.
Change the syrup you brush over the sponge, and you’ll have different cakes: choose dark coffee for an intense after-dinner pleasure, a heady liqueur for an adult treat, a fruit syrup for children parties.
Nothing easier than turning a simple Swill roll into a festive chestnut Yule log.
I had the idea for this Yule log a month ago in Mugello, the mountain area over Florence, during the chestnut festival. The sponge was generously brushed with an alchermes syrup and spread with a chestnut and ricotta filling. The original cake was simply dusted with icing sugar, but for a Yule log whip some chocolate and cream to cover the roll with a dense bark-like frosting.
Can you hear bells ringing?
Even though you can easily grab the basic notions on how to make a festive Yule log from the video recipe, here I am sharing also a detailed description to guide you in the kitchen to a perfect Christmas dessert.
Chestnut and ricotta Yule log
Ingredients for the sponge
- 150 g (5 ¼ oz) egg whites, about 5
- 75 g (⅓ cups) caster sugar
- 100 g (3 ½ oz) egg yolks, about 6
- 50 g (¼ cups) caster sugar
- 100 g (¾ cups) all-purpose flour
- 50 g (⅓ cups) potato starch
- Butter to grease the baking paper
Ingredients for the syrup
- 100 ml (½ cups) water
- 50 g (¼ cups) sugar
- 50 ml (¼ cups) alchermes, or coffee, or other liqueur you prefer, not too strong, though!
Ingredients for the filling
- 200 g (7 oz) fresh cow milk ricotta
- 200 g (7 oz) chestnut jam
Ingredients for the frosting
- 150 g (5 ⅓ oz) dark chocolate
- 150 ml (⅔ cups) fresh cream
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- Make the syrup. Boil the water with the sugar until dissolved. Pour in the alchermes and let it cool down.
- Make the sponge. Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F.
- Whip the egg whites with 75 g (⅓ cup) of sugar until thick, firm and glossy.
- In another bowl whip the egg yolks with 50 g (¼ cup) of sugar until light and pale. Fold gently the two masses together.
- Sift flour with potato starch and fold it gently into the batter.
- Line with parchment paper a 28x38cm (11x15 in)baking tray and grease the paper with butter.
- Scrape the batter onto the tray and spread evenly.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, until slightly golden.
- Have ready a dampened kitchen towel and lay it on the table.
- As soon as the sponge is ready, remove it from the oven and turn it upside down onto the dampened kitchen towel.
- Gently peel off the parchment paper and roll the sponge cake, being careful not to break it. Leave it like this until cooled down.
- Prepare the filling by mixing ricotta with chestnut jam.
- Unroll the sponge and brush with the Alchermes syrup.
- Spread the sponge evenly with the ricotta and chestnut filling, then roll again and secure tight with cling film.
- Prepare the frosting.
- Bring to the boil the cream and pour it over the finely chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted, let it cool down and whip with an electric mixer until thick.
- Spread the chocolate frosting over the sponge roll, draw a bark-like pattern with a fork and dust with cocoa powder. Leave in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
- Slice as thick as you want!
I hope you’ll share ideas, expectations, menus, foodie gifts and love with us during this special month, we can’t wait to celebrate with you!