The International Kitchen Blog: Christmas cooking traditions in France - Bûche de Noël, a Christmas dessert
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Christmas cooking traditions in France: Bûche de Noël, a Christmas dessert

Next December 13, 2012 Previous

During our French Christmas Cookery Adventure, a cooking vacation taking place December 11-18, 2013, Chef Sidney and Alison will share their French Christmas traditions with you, and that includes making Bûche de Noël, or a Christmas log dessert.

The Bûche de Noël got its start in something inedible: the Yule log, a tradition popular the world over since the time of the Vikings. Throughout history, many cultures would burn logs covered in decorations and sweet spices from Christmas Eve to the New Year as a reminder that warmer weather was on its way. Now these wonderful smells also remind us of the time of year: it's Christmas time!

As fireplaces were replaced by ovens, other ways of celebrating the Christmas log came into being, such as the French making an edible version of the holiday log. The original Bûche de Noël was a thin sponge cake shaped like a log and filled with cream or jam. Today, there's a wide variety of Christmas dessert logs that the French make to celebrate the holidays. No matter what the flavors though, the log is most easily made with baking molds. Then come the decorations; chocolate buttercream frosting resembles the bark, while sugar represents snow. Meringue designs, often in the shape of mushrooms, and berries topping the dessert also add to the Yule log effect.

During Chef Sidney and Alison's Christmas Cookery Adventure next year, one hands-on class will focus entirely on making delicious and beautiful Bûche de Noël desserts. Learn to make Bûche Craquant choco (with chocolate praline, chocolate biscuits, and vanilla); a chocolate and coffee Bûche de Noël; and Bûche Bois Blanc (with orange mousse, Imperial mandarin sauce, and Grand Marnier).

These desserts are just one tradition of many; Christmas with Sidney and Alison also means visiting the largest Christmas market in Paris as well as learning some delicious French dishes that you can return home and share with your family during the holidays!

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