Some traditions (like writing a Christmas list) have fallen by the wayside, others (like making way too many Christmas cookies every year) are stronger than ever, and then there are our new traditions. I'm not sure how long you have to do something for it to be a tradition, but for the past 3 years, my sisters and I have thrown a very small Christmas Eve party.
You really only have to throw a Christmas party once before people will start expecting it again next year. So I warn you to really think about the commitment you're making before you send out those invitations.
However, if you do decide it's worth it anyway (which it totally is), you need to start menu planning. You can't just think about the food and cocktails. It's the holidays, people will be expecting sweets. Sure you can set out a tray of cookies, but wouldn't it be nice if you had another option too? Yeah, I thought so.
BûCHE DE NOëL (YULE LOG)
Recipe from The Cake Mix Doctor
For the cake:
1 plain devils food cake mix
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. oil
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. instant coffee
For the filling:
2 c. whipping cream
1/3 to 1/2 c. powdered sugar
4 Tbsp. brandy (optional)
For the frosting:
1 stick butter, at room temperature
3 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1-3 Tbsp. cream
powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Grease jelly roll pan with butter, cover with parchment paper and grease paper with butter. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients for the cake and beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
3. Turn out onto a clean towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Remove parchment paper and immediately roll in jelly roll shape (rolling the towel into the cake). Allow to cool 30 minutes. (Don't worry about small cracks in the cake - they will be concealed by the frosting.)
4. While the cake is cooling, prepare the filling. In a medium bowl, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form. Slowly add powdered sugar and brandy and continue beating just until soft peaks form. Cover with plastic wrap (pressed against the whipped cream) and place in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
5. Prepare Frosting. Beat together butter, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder. Add in vanilla and salt. Very gradually add cream, until frosting reaches the desired consistency.
6. When cake is cooled, unroll the log. Cover with whipped cream filling and roll up the cake. Cut off an inch thick slice, then cut in half (this is for the branch).
7. Place roulade seam side down on a serving platter. Arrange the branch where you'd like it. Frost with chocolate frosting, using long strokes to make the grain in the wood. Dust with powdered sugar (aka snow) to cover up any mistakes ;) and decorate with a few pine sprigs and cranberries.