When my mother was younger, with my brother and I at her heels, she was extremely enthusiastic about craft making. She was always learning new arts and teaching them to us, like weaving macramé potholders and wrapping yarn around popsicle stick crosses to make God’s Eyes (Remember those? Yes, I’m dating myself now!) There was always a craft in process on our dining room table, especially at Christmas. And if it wasn’t covered in crafts, it was covered in Christmas cookies, ready to package up for gifts.
As I grew up, I looked forward to Christmas like no other child. Every July, when other kids were out roller skating, I would drag the boxes of tree ornaments out of the basement and stack them on my bedroom floor. I’d study each ornament and either mimic what my mother had made, or create new designs of my own, for the next five months. There were sparkles on my carpet ’til that tree went up in December. It was the joy of my life.
Now my brother was equally bitten by the Christmas bug, but in a totally different way. He lost interest in crafting, but stayed absolutely focused on my mother’s Yule Log. Lord help her if she didn’t make it for our family Christmas dinner. I remember one year she had the bright idea to try out a new dessert recipe. When she brought the ‘non-Yule-log’ to the table, my brother was so disappointed, he nearly cried. He was 35 years old!
You’re probably wondering how the absence of a specific dessert can ruin a Christmas when your family is all around the table, and everyone is healthy, happy and secure? Well, if you taste the Hazelnut Yule Log, you might understand why. YUM!
Thanks to Sarah Price, I am delighted to share the recipe with you today. Better get a slice before Mouse eats it all!
Hazelnut Yule Log (serves 8-10)
5 eggs, separated
¾ cup sugar
⅓ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon (tsp) baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
⅛ tsp salt
⅛ tsp cream of tartar
1 cup lightly packed ground hazelnuts
¼ cup roughly chopped hazelnuts
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered (icing) sugar
¼ cup butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
¾ cup powdered (icing) sugar
1. Grease a 10×15” baking pan with butter, line with wax paper (including the sides). Grease again.
2. Beat yolks until light and lemon colored. Gradually add all but 2 tbsp sugar. Beat until thick.
3. Mix in graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and vanilla.
4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add salt and cream of tartar, and continue beating until stiff. Beat in remaining 2 tbsp of sugar (from step 2).
5. With metal spoon, fold egg whites into yolk mixture alternatively with ground hazelnuts.
6. Pour in batter and smooth evenly over pan.
7. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes (16 min in convection oven), until the cake springs back when touched lightly.
8. Let stand 5 minutes in pan, then turn out on tea towel that is lightly dusted with icing sugar.
9. Roll cake up in towel, short side to short side, and let cool on rack.
10. Whip cream with icing sugar. Roll out cooled cake and spread with cream, then roll back up (without towel) and place seam side down on serving dish.
11. Frosting: Melt butter in small pot. Stir in brown sugar. Bring to full boil and cook over low heat (do not be tempted to speed it up by turning the heat higher), stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
12. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Gradually add icing sugar and beat until smooth. Spread quickly over cake roll, before it hardens into fudge! Draw the tines of a fork over frosting to create bark texture.
Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over top. Add your favourite decoration.
Meghan is the author of The Stowaways, a middle grade novel about a family of audacious mice. In 2014, The Stowaways was a finalist for the Monica Hughes Science Fiction and Fantasy Award and the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Check out Meghan on Instagram @meghanmouse, where she follows her friend Mouse all over town! (seen above, licking the Yule Log)
Stop by www.meghanmarentette.com to learn more about The Stowaways.