Recipe by Zac Young
Yes, it is a time consuming endeavor. This is not a “same day recipe” or a “let me slap something together” project. The best plan of attack is to do it over the course of a few days. Day 1: Make the cake and frosting and assemble the log. Freeze it. Day 2: Make the cheesecake, wrap and refrigerate. Day 3: make the toffee pecan pie, refrigerate. Day 4: Assemble, at this point the cake will hold for another day or so. The finished cake can also be frozen, tightly wrapped.
Top Tweak by Sarah H.
Made this for Thanksgiving this year because I couldn't narrow down a choice for what to make, and piecaken didn't appeal much to me. I made a the recipe for the pecan pie and added 1C chocolate chips and 1/4 c of bourbon for a little added flavor. The buttercream in the yule log I added one 15 oz can of pumpkin and the typical pumpkin pie spices and it turned out a lot like a mousse which worked out well. The recipe for the chocolate cake came out really nice and I'll use it again. I'd probably say that the buttercream should be split into 3rds as the filling for the log definitely doesn't need 1/2 of the buttercream recipe, but that could also be in regards to how thick my cake was, I'd use a bigger pan next time. I ended up making another half batch (the first time I used meringue powder to sub half the whites because I had the left over from using just yolks elsewhere) and it made my buttercream really dark once refrigerated, the second time with only real whites came out much lighter regardless of using the same cocoa powder (dark chocolate) each time. A nice collaboration throughout!
- 1⁄2 cup cocoa powder, such as valrhona
- 1 cup warm water
- 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1⁄4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1⁄4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 8 whole egg whites
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 lbs unsalted butter
- caramel sauce (from above)
- 1 lb cream cheese
- 3⁄4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large whole eggs plus 1 egg yolks
- 1⁄4 cup creme fraiche
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon Irish whiskey, such as 2 gingers
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Toffee Pecan Pie
- 9 inches pie crusts (homemade or store bought)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- 3⁄4 cup dark corn syrup
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1⁄2 toasted pecan pieces
- 3⁄4 cup chopped Heath candy bar, pieces
- 1⁄2 cup cocoa powder, such as valrhona
- 1 cup chopped Heath candy bar, pieces
- chocolate, santas chocolate gold coins, white sprinkles, gold leaf or marzipan, woodland creatures
Directions See How It's Made
- For the Chocolate Caramel Yule Log:.
- Preheat the oven to 325.
- Line one “Jelly Roll” pans with parchment paper cut exactly to fit the bottom of the pan, spraying the sides and bottom with nonstick spray before lining.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the warm water with the cocoa powder until smooth. In a KitchenAid mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl by hand), beat the sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs on medium speed until combined. Turn the machine to lowest speed and add the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until just incorporated, but do not over mix! Stream in the cocoa power and water mixture and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Stir in the buttermilk, the batter will be very liquid. Spread the batter into an even layer making sure to get into the corners of the pan. Bake at 325 for 12 to 18 minutes until the cake is springy to the touch and baked through. Let cool while you make the buttercream.
- For the Salted Caramel Buttercream:.
- Make the Caramel Sauce:.
- Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Add enough water to make a “wet sand” consistency, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Cook the sugar until it is dark amber and almost smoking, turn off the heat. Carefully add the cream, it will bubble and spatter, stand back! Once the caramel has calmed down, add the salt and whisk smooth. Transfer to a heatproof bowl to cool.
- Make the Buttercream:.
- Find a pot that will fit the bottom of the bowl of a KitchenAid, fill it with three inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the egg whites and the sugar in the mixer bowl and place over the simmering pot of water. Stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm, about 4 minutes. Place the bowl on the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium high until cool (about 8 to 10 minutes). Cut the butter into 1 inch cubes and gradually add to the mixer. Mix until the butter has incorporated and the frosting is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the room temperature caramel sauce and whisk until combined.
- Divide the frosting in half. Place one half in the fridge in a storage container or tightly wrapped in a bowl. Spread the other half in an even layer on top of the cooled cake using an offset spatula. Using a sharp knife, cut the frosted cake into three even strips going the long way across the pan. Make sure you cut through the parchment as well. If you are worried about scratching your sheet pan, transfer the cake to a cutting board before slicing.
- Starting with the short end of one of the strips, start rolling the cake on itself to make a pinwheel, peeling the parchment as you go. When you reach the end of the first strip, gently pick put the roll and place a few inches away from the short edge of the next strip. Continue rolling the second strip around the first wheel. Repeat with the 3rd strip until you have a giant chocolate caramel pinwheel. Place the wheel in the freezer for 4 hours, or overnight or for up to a week.
- For the Eggnog Cheesecake:.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Cut a round of parchment to fit the bottom of an 8 inch spring form pan, if you do not have a spring form pan, you can use an 8 inch cake pan. Lightly spray the pan with nonstick spray and place the round of parchment in the bottom. Wrap the exterior bottom and sides of the pan with aluminum foil.
- In a KitchenAid mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, crème fraiche and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time on medium low speed, scraping the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla, whisky, nutmeg and salt. You want the batter to be smooth but not overbeaten. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
- Place the pan in a larger baking dish and pour in hot water until it comes half way up the sides of the cheesecake pan.
- Bake for 30 to 45 minutes until the center is still slightly giggly. Do not overbake or the cheesecake will be grainy.
- Let cool, refrigerate until ready to assemble.
- For the Toffee Pecan Pie:.
- Line a 9 inch pie plate with the crust and chill until the filling is ready.
- Preheat oven to 400.
- In a small heavy bottom sauce pan, cook the butter until it foams and starts to brown, remove from the heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour and eggs until smooth. Add the corn syrup and then slowly stream the butter while whisking, if you do this too fast it will curdle the eggs. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salt. Evenly spread the pecans and heath bar pieces in the bottom of the prepared pie shell. Pour the filling over, the pecans will rise to the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Drop the temperature to 325 and bake for another 20 to 30 minutes until the pie is browned and the center is only slightly giggly. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Remove the reserved frosting from the fridge. Transfer to the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk the frosting on medium high speed. The frosting will look “broken” for a bit, but will come together once it whisks for a while and comes to room temperature. Once the frosting is smooth, add the cocoa powder and beat until fluffy.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the side crusts off the toffee pecan pie. Remove the chocolate caramel roll from the freezer. Using a sharp knife run under hot water, trim off one end of the roll, exposing a beautiful cross section of the swirl.
- On an 8 inch cake board or serving plate place a small dollop of frosting to secure the pie. Place the trimmed, chilled pie on top of the frosting dollop. Spread a thin layer of frosting on top of the pie. Place the cheesecake on top and coat with another thin layer of frosting. Place the roll on top with the cut side facing up, you may have to fill in the bottom side of the roll with extra frosting so there are not air gaps.
- Spread the remaining frosting around the sides of the cake. Using a cake comb or the edge of a serrated knife, texturize the sides of the log to give a bark effect. Press the chopped heath bar around the bottom edge of the cake to mask any imperfections at the base of the Log. Refrigerate until ready to serve.