A light, airy rolled chocolate cake, filled with an orange zest and Grand Marnier buttercream, covered in a rich dark chocolate Ganache. Perfect for the holidays!
Chocolate Génoise or Chocolate Sponge Cake
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 150 grams Granulated sugar (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
- 80 grams cake flour (about 2/3 cup)
- 30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (1/3 cup)
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Soaking Syrup Ingredients
- 106 grams water (about 1/2 cup)
- 143 grams granulated sugar (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 tbsp Grand Marnier
Orange Zest Butter Cream
- 3 sticks of room temperature butter (24 tbsps)
- 3 tbsps of whole milk
- Zest from one orange
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tbsp Grand Marnier
- 320 grams of dark chocolate (we use Valhrona 70% Dark Bittersweet Chocolate Callets) This equals very roughly 2 cups but I recommend using the scale!
- 50 grams of butter (about 3.5 tbsp)
- 473 grams of heavy cream (1 pint) almost at room temperature
- 1 tbsp of Grand Marnier (or whichever liquor you prefer. Note this addition is optional - the Ganache tastes delicious without the added liquor)
Hazelnut Brittle (for decoration)
- 150 grams of sugar (3/4 cup)
- 2 tbsps butter
- 1 cup whole peeled hazelnuts
How to Make the Chocolate Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter a 10x15 inch rimmed baking sheet (making sure to butter the sides!). Line with parchment paper.
- In a heat safe bowl (I like a big stainless steal mixing bowl) mix the eggs and the sugar together with a whisk (or in a stand mixer) for a few minutes until the eggs and sugar are fully blended and a light white in color.
- Place the bowl over a pot with a couple inches of boiling water in it to create a "bain marie" or double boiler. Reduce the heat to just a simmer underneath the bowl and whisk vigorously for 3-4 minutes to warm the mixture. Make sure to keep whisking - you don't want to make scrambled eggs!
- Transfer the egg mixture to your stand mixer. Beat on high for about 8 minutes until the eggs have tripled in volume. Add the Grand Marnier and reduce speed to medium.
- Beat for 2 minutes more.
- Sift the cocoa, flour and baking soda into the batter, folding the ingredients into the bowl with a rubber spatula until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed. You don't want to use the whisk anymore and fold gently so that the air stays in the mixture.
- Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking sheet.
- Place in the center rack of the oven and allow to cook for 20-23 minutes until the cake springs back to the touch. Careful not to over bake the cake or it will crack!
- Invert onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for a few minutes and then tip over onto a another cooling rack for another few minutes until you can handle the cake. The parchment paper should be underneath the cake. The parchment paper can be rolled up with the cake - no need to remove it.
- Lay a clean dishcloth over the top of the cake.
- Use a rolling pin over the dishcloth to compress the cake slightly - a thick cake makes for an uneven roll.
- Begin rolling away from you from the short end of the cake.
- Roll tightly using gentle pressure to not crack the cake until the cake is fully rolled up in the dishtowel.
- I like to tie each end of the dishtowel with elastics so that the roll stays in place.
- Place the rolled cake in the fridge to cool while you are making the next steps.
How to Make Hazelnut Brittle
- Place a sheet of parchment paper over a baking sheet. Set aside.
- In a dry non-stick pan over medium heat pour in the sugar.
- Mix constantly with a silicone spatula until it becomes light caramel colored. Do not let it get dark brown - that is burnt sugar! Discard and start again if it gets too dark.
- Turn off the heat and add in the butter and hazelnuts.
- Mix vigorously.
- Pour onto the parchment paper and spread around so that there is a thin layer of caramel and hazelnuts.
- Allow to cool for at least one hour on the counter.
- Using the bottom of your sauce pan, hit the brittle to break it up into little pieces - don't go overboard - you don't want hazelnut brittle dust. Just a few swift taps will do. Careful not to eat it all before you decorate the cake - it is that good!
How to Make the Soaking Syrup
- In a stainless steel sauce pan over medium heat melt the sugar and water. Allow to simmer for a few minutes to thicken.
- Remove from Heat and stir in the Grand Marnier.
- Place in a bowl to chill on the counter until the cake is ready to assemble.
How to Make the Orange Zest Buttercream
- In a stand mixer at medium speed, beat the 3 sticks of room temperature butter, 1.5 cups of confectioner's sugar (icing sugar), 3 tbsp of whole milk and the zest of 1 orange. (I like to use a microplane zester to get a fine zest).
- Beat for a few minutes until fluffy and then add in the orange juice followed by the Grand Marnier, beating between each application.
- Set aside on the counter until ready to assemble.
How to Make Chocolate Ganache
(for more details and step by step photos refer to the Dark Chocolate Ganache Recipe here)
- Take the cream out of the fridge 30 minutes before you begin the recipe to allow it to warm a little.
- Put the chocolate and butter into a heat safe bowl. I use these glass duralex bowls.
- Melt the chocolate. If you have a chocolate melt function on your microwave, feel free to use this. Or else use the bain-marie technique (put the chocolate in a double boiler - gently melt while stirring with a silicone spatula constantly over a few inches boiling water). Whichever way you choose to melt your chocolate, make sure to stop before the chocolate is fully melted, while there still are a few big chunks of chocolate left.
- Stir with a silicone spatula (not a whisk!) to get all the chocolate clumps out. They will melt into the mixture.
- Add the cream that has warmed to almost room temperature.
- Continue to mix with the silicone spatula until the ganache is smooth and glossy.
- Pour in the Grand Marnier and mix again.
- Allow the ganache to cool before adding it to your dessert.
Assembling the Bûche de Noël
- Unroll the cake from the dish towel and parchment paper.
- Place on a cooling rack with a cooking sheet underneath to catch the drips of ganache you will pour over.
- Generously spread the soaking syrup over the insides of the cake.
- Add a thick layer of buttercream on the inside of the roll, leaving the last inch clear.
- Roll up the cake again, applying pressure so that there is a tight roll but not too much that you crack the cake. If the cake cracks, that is ok, just use buttercream to patch it up.
- Apply a thin layer of butter cream over the top of the cake and over the ends to seal in the cake.
- Place in the fridge for a half hour. This might be a good opportunity to clean the kitchen 🙂
Decorating the Bûche de Noël
- Once the buttercream has cooled and formed a seal around the cake, using a ladle, generously spoon the chocolate ganache over the cake. You want a thick layer.
- Using an icing spatula (one with an indent is best) smooth the ganache over the cake.
- Carefully transfer your cake onto a serving dish. Using a long spatula to lift it off the cooling rack.
- Any slip ups can be covered by smoothing more ganache over the top - don't worry.
- For the finishing touch, sprinkle the hazelnut brittle around the sides of the cake and over the top.
Voilà! Your very own Bûche de Noël, worthy of a French Pâtisserie, in your own home!
Le Chef's tip for a smooth, shiny ganache is to use a silicone spatula to stir instead of a whisk. A whisk adds air bubbles to the ganache which you don't want. You want it mirror smooth.
*Le Chef's Wife tip: a rule of cake making: never put buttercream or ganache onto a hot cake - it will melt right off! Always chill your cake in the fridge between each step for a sturdy construction and easy decorating.
Keywords: buche de noel, bûche de noel, yule log, swiss roll