Holiday Yule Log

This is death by chocolate!  And what a way to go!  I have been making this chocolate “jelly roll” for more years than I care to admit.  It is so good, I have never wanted to try any other kind of cake roll, because if I’m going to make one–this is it!

This is a delicate, flourless, chocolate sponge cake filled with chocolate whipped cream, and is so easy to make–really!  You can get as crazy as you like decorating it, but it won’t last long enough to make the effort, so I just like to reserve some of the chocolate whipped cream, about 1/4 cup and roughly spread it on the outside.  Then with a fork, I make for the “wood effect” marks.  I then slice off one end of the log, unroll it and divide it into 2 pieces,  one a bit longer than the other.  Then I re-roll the two pieces and set them on top to simulate broken branches on the log–one large and one small.  Voila!  The tastiest yule log ever!

Scroll down to see step-by-step pictures of how to make it.

Holiday Yule Log
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: Christmas
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12 servings
  • Cake
  • 6 eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar, separated
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • powdered sugar
  • Filling
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Cake
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Grease bottom and sides of a 15-1/2" x 10-1/2" x 1" jelly roll pan. Line with waxed paper and grease lightly again.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites with a wire whisk attachment at high speed just until soft peeks form when the beater is slowly raised. Add ¼ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Transfer egg whites into a large bowl and set aside.
  5. With the same whisk attachment, beat yolks at high speed, adding remaining ½ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Beat until mixture is very thick and turns a light yellow--about 4 minutes.
  6. Reducing speed to low, beat in cocoa, vanilla and salt, just until smooth.
  7. Add the chocolate mixture to the egg whites and with a wire whisk or rubber scraper, gently fold the cocoa mixture into the egg whites until just incorporated. No white should show.
  8. Spread evenly in prepared jelly roll pan. Bake for 15 minutes, just until the surface springs back when gently pressed with fingertip.
  9. Meanwhile, on a larger cookie sheet or on the counter top, lay out a clean linen towel. Dust an area the size of the jelly roll pan with powdered sugar. When cake comes out of the oven, GENTLY run a knife along the outside to loosen the cake. Turn it over onto the prepared linen towel and very gently peel off the waxed paper. It will be stubborn so peel carefully.
  10. Roll up, jelly roll fashion, starting with the short end, towel and all. Cool completely on a wire rack, seam side down for at least ½ hour.
  11. Filling
  12. To make the filling, combine ingredients in a medium bowl. Whip with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer until thickened.
  13. Unroll cake and spread with filling to within ½ inch from edge, reserving ¼ cup for spreading on the outside of the cake, if desired. Re-roll and place seam side down on a plate. Cover loosely with foil and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  14. Optional: Cut a 1" slice from one end and use to decorate the log, re-rolling to simulate 2 dead branches and placing on top of the log.
  15. Finish by dusting with additional powdered sugar.
  16. Note: You may make the Yule Log a week ahead and freeze it, wrapped in foil. Allow to stand at room temperature to thaw for about 1 hour before serving.

Following are some pictures to help you visualize the process.  Try to get the batter as smooth as possible without working it too much.  You don’t want to deflate the whipped egg whites.YL1


Be sure to cover the linen towel with enough powdered sugar so the cake doesn’t stick to it.YL2


Gently peel the waxed paper off of the cake.  You may get small tears in the cake, but that will add to the character of the log.  Discard the paper.YL3


Roll the cake from the short end, towel and all.YL4


Allow the roll to cool on a wire rack, seam side down.YL5


Et cetera:  I started making this Yule Log at Christmas when I was a young mother and in fact, I always made two.  My children grew up with it and it has become as traditional for us as tamales on Christmas Eve.  I knew I had “made it” as a viable cook in my mother’s eyes when she started asking me to save her a slice every year.  As a reader, I’m not sure if I can make  you understand how much this meant to me–she was Wonder Woman in the kitchen and certainly impossible to compete with.  When she made MY tradition one of HER traditions, I felt honored.