Holiday desserts is at the top of my list this season and I’m always thinking of new ways to use traditional recipes. Christmas 2020, I take a traditional yule log and transform it into a Chocolate Snowflake version.
Love the contrast with the chocolate cake and the white snowflakes sitting amidst this light chocolate cake. Chocolate is a favorite in my house so this is going to be received so well with my family, wink, wink.
Genoise Chocolate Cake
The foundation for this dessert is a super light and spongy cake knows as a Genoise. Genoise you ask? Classic European is the heritage this cake brings to the table.
Not to mention, it’s a fantastic choice to use for a cake roll which produces elasticity which makes for easy rolling.
Traditionally, Genoise cakes are unique in that they do not have any chemical leaveners in the batter ( baking soda or baking powder).
Leavening comes purely by whipping air into the batter in the form of eggs and sugar till tripled in volume, known as the “Foaming Method.”
The pastry world is known for their “methods” in baking. Genoise cakes are made by what is called the “Foaming Method,” a little pastry vernacular for you. There is a method to this madness!
WARNING: I’m going a little food science on you here.
Typically, the procedure for this method goes somewhat like this:
- Dry ingredients get sifted
- Eggs and sugar are placed in a bowl and whisked over double boiler to 110 degrees
- Egg/sugar mixture is placed in a stand mixer and whipped till triple in volume
- Dry ingredients are folded in
- Melted butter is folded in
Warming the Eggs and Sugar
You might be asking why is it necessary to heat the eggs and sugar? Glad you asked! Firstly, warming helps dissolve the sugar. If you were to take the mixture and rub it between your fingers after it reaches 110 degrees, you wouldn’t be able to feel the granularity of the sugar.
Second, warming allows the eggs and sugar to mix well together. Once it gets placed in the mixer to whip, it will produce the volume you are looking for which in return, produces a nice airy sponge type cake.
If you are into the food science (I love this stuff) check out my post on “Mixing Methods” where I chat about the three basic methods in baking. Also, here is a great 411 on baking soda and baking powder in baking.
Making the Snowflakes
Now that you have some great pastry 101 knowledge on making Genoise cakes, I’m going to back up a bit and show you how I made the snowflake impressions into the cake. Super fun!
First: I search the web for some free snowflake templates. Ahh, I found this one, it was perfect! Totally love all the designs on this one.
On a jellyroll pan, I place the template on the pan and center it then cover it with parchment paper.
Second: Parchment paper gets a light coating of cooking spray (don’t want to have these beautiful flakes stick)!
Third: I take a mixture of some egg whites, flour, powdered sugar, and butter to make a light batter. To make it extra white, I add some white gel paste to make it white as a snowflake.
Lastly: I put this mixture into a pastry bag with a small round tip and pipe over the design that’s under the parchment paper, and even add a few extra touches to fill in some of the gaps.
Once finished, I remove the template from under the parchment paper and I put the whole pan in the freezer a good 30 minutes to have it set up. This is necessary so it doesn’t get mixed in with the cake batter.
Preparing The Cake
Genoise: As I mentioned earlier, is the star of the show and I make the cake, chocolate version by adding melted chocolate to the batter.
Remember that whipping stage where the eggs and sugar gets tripled in volume. Check it out here. Such a beautiful sight!
Chocolate Snowflake Marriage
After the snowflake design has chilled the batter gets poured right on top and spread out gently and heads right into the oven to work its magic!
Quick baking time here, and before you know it, its already done!
Transformation-Lets Do This
Immediately after the cake comes out of the oven, I run a knife around the edges and prepare for the double flip ASAP.
First flip: Turning the pan upside down onto a piece of parchment paper that is laid on top of the bottom of a sheet pan (sheet pan flipped upside down). The cake should come right out. I remove the parchment and see that awesome design. But, I have to flip again because I want that beautiful design on the outside of yule log when it is filled.
Second flip: I place a clean kitchen towel over the cake and immediately flip it again so the design in face down on the towel. Immediately, I roll the cake into a log with the dish towel and let it cool completely.
Chocolate Snowflake Yule Log
Vanilla buttercream is a perfect filling for this Chocolate Snowflake delight as it keeps with the color scheme and compliments the snowflakes well.
Once filled, its gets rolled tightly and wrapped to chill for a few hours to firm up before getting sliced into rolls to share with everyone.
Perfectly enjoyed with a little chocolate sauce and a cold glass of milk!
Check out my Candy Cane Yule Log. If you love red and white, you will enjoy this one!