It all dates back to the Middle Ages, when revelers followed a tradition of burning a huge log of freshly cut wood in the chimney, hoping it would bering great prosperity in the coming year. But it has since become a different thing altogether, a delicious cake roll served at Christmas dinners.
In recent years, the biggest pastry chefs of the most prized Parisian outfits seek to undo one another in their creative output, creating yule logs that look more work of art than a thing to savor. So forget about the traditional yule logs dotted with chestnut cream that are heavy and nauseating and traumatized an entire generation of children. Turn instead to FancyOli’s selection’s of the fanciest yule logs 2015 has to offer.
Laurent Jeannin, Le Bristol
Le Bristol’s three-star pastry chef caught on to the Star Wars trend as the intergalactic saga marked its latest film. His 2015 yule log is a spaceship of sorts that takes you on an intense taste journey close to the stars. Under an outer layer of star-studded cocoa, there is a cake roll with caramelized pecans and a strudel-like crispy praline puff pastry. The center contains a caramelized crème brûlée with true Madagascar vanilla and passion fruit. It’s an invitation to outer space that melts in the mouth but is also creamy and crunchy. But sadly, you can’t take the whole thing home. You can, however, order it slice by slice and savor it in the hotel’s French gardens. We asked for seconds!
Available at the Jardin français. 18 euros per slice.
La Bûche de Noël, Hôtel Plaza Athénée
Playboy pastry chef Christophe Michalak, who has also taken turns on several TV shows, needs no introduction. This year, he has reproduced one of the professional stoves of the Plaza Athénée hotel in Paris in yule log form. This XXS version of the range comes in gianduja hazelnut, with a spongy biscuit and mandarin marmalade, garnished with a light, earl grey milk chocolate mousse. Visually, it’s quite an accomplishment, and the chocolate utensils bring a touch of crisp to this pretty stove. It is, however, a little heavy at the end of the meal, so Oli recommends savoring it in small bites.
Serves 6 to 8 people. 125 euros.
Boule de Noël, La Réserve Paris Hotel & Spa 2015
For its first Christmas, La Réserve Paris Hôtel and Spa lets you customize your own yule log. It’s a way of celebrating the magic of Christmas, when you choose and then hang the first decorations on the family Christmas tree. You can select from a couple main options to create your box of four ball ornaments. There is a crunchy dark chocolate shell with 70% Ecuador chocolate mousse, salted tonka bean caramel cream and light cocoa biscuit, and, as a second option, a crunchy dark chocolate shell with Madagascar vanilla mousse, mango-passion brunoise and light almond biscuit. Everyone goes home happy.
This foodie dessert is one to share. It is an ideal marriage of crispy and light textures, chocolate and more exotic flavors that will give a real trip to your taste buds. If you can’t finish it all, you can always hang the ball decorations on the tree.
Serves four. 70 euros.
La Banquise, Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris
To celebrate Christmas, this luxury hotel has a new take on the Antarctic and its penguins. Pastry chefs Stéphane Tranchet and Christian Le Squer put the spotlight on the calisson, the traditional French candy of ground almonds and candied fruit, and its orange and chocolate flavors. Delicate penguins sculpted in the ice push the design far beyond the limits of the yule log. This treat, which can be enjoyed by up to eight people, fits well into the decor imagined by Jeff Leatham, the hotel’s floral designer. In addition to his giant bears and reindeer, he awakens our emotions once again with penguins in the lobby of this immaculate Parisian locale, while the bears take over the marble courtyard during the high holidays. And let’s not forget the iceskating rink for children.
Serves 6-8. 150 euros.
Carrousel & Gourmandises, Le Fouquet’s
Gaëtan Fiard, the 2014 winner of the Mondial des Arts Sucrés world pastry competition and the pastry sous-chef at the award-winning Le Diane restaurant, transformed his log into a carrousel. Vigilant foodies, take note: this one comes gluten-free — there is no wheat flour. This fairytale merry-go-round is built on top of a fine shortbread cookie base topped with a coconut mousse with subtle hints of lime and alternating layers of almond biscuits. Reindeers sprinkled with gold powder replace the carrousel’s traditional wooden horses.
Beneath the reindeer lies a red passion fruit heart, with raspberry marmalade. And on top of this delicious creation, an elegant raspberry icing with a fruit and white chocolate base, for a truly dazzling result. This dreamlike carrousel takes you back to that time — distant or not — when you were 8. It’s a truly enjoyable treat that feels great.
Serves 8. 95 euros.