This easy Vegan Yule Log is a light chocolate sponge filled with a fluffy chestnut buttercream. A beautiful festive centrepiece!
Traditional Christmas sweet things tend to involve quite a bit of dried fruit and booze, which isn't everyone's cup of tea, but the traditional French Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) is such a treat for all ages.
A light chocolate sponge rolled up with buttercream, (I stirred chestnut purée through mine for an extra festive twist), then covered with yet more buttercream, chocolate this time, and decorated to look like a snowy log.
A traditional swiss roll sponge is made with whisked egg whites, and doesn't have any fat added. I've been meaning to test out the magic vegan ingredient 'aquafaba' (the liquid drained from a tin of chickpeas) as a replacement for egg whites, and hadn't yet got around to it, so a Bûche de Noël seemed like the perfect opportunity.
The recipe for this did take a few attempts to get right - probably because I hadn't worked with aquafaba before, (my poor family were subjected to eating multiple vegan yule logs over the course of a few weeks....!). But I think this one is spot on, and is surprisingly easy to make. The aquafaba really does whip up just like egg whites, and the sponge cooks really quickly.
The chestnut buttercream for the filling is incredibly light and fluffy, whereas the chocolate buttercream 'sets' as the melted chocolate hardens, and gives the yule log some rigidity which helps when slicing and serving.
Ingredients: Vegan Yule Log
Aquafaba is simply the liquid you drain off from a tin of chickpeas. If you haven't tried using it as a baking ingredient yet, this recipe is the perfect place to start. I promise it doesn't taste of chickpeas at all, (that was one of my main concerns, and put me off using it for ages!), and it really is incredibly easy to use.
Dairy-free yoghurt I tend to use unsweetened soya yoghurt for baking as it has the highest protein content of all the plant yoghurts so is the best egg replacer. But if you can't have soya or don't have any to hand, oat or coconut yoghurt will also work here.
Dark chocolate Many brands of dark chocolate are vegan, but you do need to check labels - it can vary within a brand, such as blocks of dark chocolate being dairy-free but then dark chocolate chips made by the same brand containing milk. So don't ever assume, always check!
Chestnut purée is usually widely available at Christmas time but not so much throughout the rest of the year. It is sold either in tins or in pouches so look out for it in supermarkets. It really makes all the difference to the filling of this yule log so do try to get hold of some if you can.
Let me know how you get on with your own vegan yule log!
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Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Yule Log
For the Swiss Roll:
- 12 tbsp 'aquafaba' (liquid drained from tin of chickpeas)
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- 115 g icing sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract/paste
- 2 tbsp dairy-free yoghurt (soya or coconut)
- 115 g self-raising flour
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tbsp caster sugar
For the Buttercreams:
- 300 g icing sugar
- 300 g dairy-free margarine
- 150 g dark chocolate (check it is vegan)
- 150 g chestnut purée
For the Swiss Roll:
- Line a swiss roll tin roughly 20cm x 30cm with baking paper/parchment, and preheat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºF / Gas Mark 4.
- Tip the aquafaba and cream of tartar into a large, clean bowl, and use an electric whisk to whip until stiff peaks are formed (this might take 3-4 minutes, keep going!).
- Sift the icing sugar into the bowl bit by bit, and whisk again, then very gently stir through the vanilla extract and dairy-free yoghurt.
- Sift the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl, and fold gently into the whisked mixture until just combined, being as gentle as possible to avoid knocking out too much of the air.
- Tip the mixture into the prepared swiss roll tin, and put straight into the oven for 10 minutes or until the sponge springs back when pressed.
- Whilst it is cooking, take a clean sheet of baking paper and sprinkle it with caster sugar.
- When the sponge is ready, remove it from the oven and turn it out immediately onto the sugared baking paper. Carefully peel off the paper it was cooked in.
- Roll it up from the long edge, with the paper trapped inside. Leave to cool.
For the Buttercream:
- Beat the icing sugar and dairy-free margarine together until pale and fluffy, then divide the mixture into two separate bowls.
- Melt the dark chocolate (keeping back 2 small squares for decoration later) in 30 second blasts in the microwave (or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of boiling water), leave to cool a little, then stir into one of the bowls of buttercream until fully combined.
- Add the chestnut purée to the other bowl of buttercream, and beat until fully combined.
- Unroll the sponge carefully, (don't worry too much if it cracks in places, you will be able to hide it with buttercream). Spread a layer of the chestnut buttercream over the whole sponge, then re-roll to form a long swiss roll.
- Trim the ends to neaten them, (these offcuts are the chef's perks!), then slice about a quarter of the roll off the end on the diagonal. Place this on one side to become the branch.
- Cover the whole log in chocolate buttercream, then use a fork to create the texture of the bark along the length of the log, and with circles at each end.
- Grate over the dark chocolate squares, and finally sprinkle with icing sugar for a flurry of snow.