il Tronchetto di Natale. Here is my version I made a few years ago for Christmas. They are really easier than you think to put together... a simple sponge cake (yellow or chocolate--your choice), a filling, some icing and lots of fun with the kids scraping with spoons and forks to you think it looks like a real log in an early winter's forest. The only technical part that needs some attention is learning how to rold the jellyroll cake. (There are many Youtube videos if you need help).
In my version, I added holly leaves made from fondant with berries and mushrooms made from marzipan. A dusting of decorative or confectioner's sugar for a light snowfall and you're transported into the Italian Alps. I've included a basic recipe to make your own. If you have kids, by all means include them, especially with the decorating and Lucas' favorite thing... licking the beater...
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 egg whites
- 1/4 cup sugar
- confectioners' sugar for dusting
- marzipan for mushrooms
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a 10 x 15" jellyroll pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whip the cream, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa, and 1 teaspoon vanilla until thick and stiff. Refrigerate.
- In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream (mix) the egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale. Blend in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and salt. In large bowl (copper if you have one... it makes higher peaks when whipping egg whites), using clean beaters, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, and beat until whites form stiff peaks. Immediately fold the yolk mixture into the whites. Spread the batter to an even depth evenly across the jellyroll pan on top of the parchment paper.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Dust a clean dishtowel with confectioners' sugar. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and turn the warm cake out onto the towel. Remove and discard parchment paper. Starting at the short edge of the cake, roll the cake up with the towel. Cool for 30 minutes.
- Unroll the cake, and spread the filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Roll the cake up with the filling inside. Place seam side down onto a serving plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- For tree stump, cut off a 2-3 inch diagonal (45 degree) slice from one end of cake. Attach stump to one long side using 1 tablespoon frosting. Frost cake with remaining frosting. With tines of fork or other small kitchen tools, make strokes in frosting to look like tree bark. Garnish with nuts, fresh berries, marzipan mushrooms (easy to shape, even for kids).
- Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.
The slide show below will give you some other great decorating ideas....