Buche de Noel – French Christmas Cake

Bûche de Noël – Nutella and Spéculoos

Today I need to introduce you to the newest member of our family, her name is Romane. Romane has been living with us for just over one month now, and is a 16 year exchange student from France. We have been having an awesome time showing Romane around Coffs Harbour.  This delicious Buche de Noel is a French dessert eaten at Christmas.

Christmas Mousse Layer Cake
Christmas Mousse Layer Cake

Given that Christmas is coming so fast, I asked Romane if she would mind sharing a recipe that represents something they might eat in France at this time of year. I have learned that Romane LOVES chocolate, it was no surprise that she would choose a dessert which includes Nutella and dark chocolate.

Sliced French Christmas Layer Cake
Sliced French Christmas Layer Cake

Romane explained that the Bûche de Noël is their “cake of Christmas.”  Usually the cake is moulded in a loaf tin and it can have any flavours you choose. The recipe she used is not traditional as she modified the ingredients by removing the cream from the mousse layers. Usually the dessert would be a lot richer and heavier.

French Christmas Cake Dessert
French Christmas Cake Dessert

Romane version was delicious! I really feel the lighter layers suit our summer better than the traditional recipe would. The layers of mousse are extremely light and airy. Surprisingly the Bûche de Noël isn’t overly sweet either!

What I particularly loved about the cake was the cinnamon and spice flavour the specular cookies gave the dish. On first glance this dessert looks like a chocolate cake but the actual favour is more cinnamon and spice with a hint of chocolate.

Buche de Noel -French Layer Cake
Buche de Noel -French Layer Cake

Although the recipe may look a little daunting it is actually quite simple and contains easy to find ingredients.  There are a lot of steps, but this is because there are quite a few layers. The result is as gorgeous as it is tasty!

Buche de Noel - A French Christmas Dessert w Nutella

Buche de Noel – A French Christmas Tradition w Nutella

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Author: Matt Dobson


Spéculoos paste

  • 200 g spéculoos cookies
  • 20 g Condensed milk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of Salt

Nutella Mousse Layer

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 20 g sugar
  • 3 tbs water
  • 4 g gel sheets
  • 150 g Nutella
  • 2 egg white

Spéculoos Mousse Layer

  • 2 Egg yolks
  • 20 g sugar
  • 3 tbs water
  • 6 g Gel sheets
  • 4 Egg white
  • 200 g spéculoos paste

Chocolate Genoese Layer

  • 2 eggs
  • 50 g sugar
  • 50 g flour
  • 50 g dark chocolate
  • 10 g butter

Crunchy Speculoos Layer

  • 50 g speculoos paste
  • 50 g milk chocolate
  • 50 g Corinthian chocolate wafer cookies

Chocolate Ganache Cover

  • 190 dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup cream

To Finish

  • Roughly chopped Speculoos Cookies


Spéculoos paste

  • Blend all the specular paste ingredients together in a food processor, until the paste is smooth.
  • Reserve for later.

Nutella mousse

  • Choose a container which will form the final shape of this component in the dessert. It needs to be smaller than the finished dish, as it will fit inside the dessert. Line the container with plastic wrap.
  • Melt Nutella in a water bath.
  • Put the gel sheets in cold water for them to soften.
  • Beat egg white until stiff.
  • Place the egg yolk and the gel sheets in a bowl reserve for later
  • Boil water and sugar in a saucepan (until sugar dissolves).
  • Pour the water over the egg yolk and whisk well.
  • The gel sheets need to be dissolve.
  • Add melted Nutella to the egg yolk mixture and combine.
  • Gradually add the egg whites to the chocolate custard until they are all incorporate in the mousse.
  • Place the mousse in the freezer. This component is frozen for easier handling later.

Spéculoos mousse

  • Line the dessert mould with plastic wrap.
  • Soften speculoos paste from step one in a water bath.
  • Put the gel sheets in cold water to allow them to soften.
  • Beat egg white to form soft peaks.
  • Place the egg yolks and the soften gel sheets in a bowl. Reserve
  • Boil water and sugar (until sugar dissolves).
  • Pour the water mixture over eggs yolks and whisk well. Ensure the gel sheets are completely dissolved.
  • Add the melted speculoos paste to the egg yolk mixture.
  • Gradually fold the egg whites into the custard.
  • Pour half of the mixture speculoos mousse into your final dessert mould which you lined in plastic wrap.
  • Take the Nutella mousse out of the freezer and add it to the dessert mould on top of the speculoos mousse.
  • Press the Nutella mousse down gently so that the speculoos mousse will surround it.
  • Add the remaining speculoos mousse to the dessert mould and smooth the the surface with a spatula.
  • Return the dessert to the freezer until it is completely frozen.
  • You can do all this steps the day before and leave it to freeze overnight.

Chocolate Genoese Layer

  • Preheat the oven at 180°C.
  • Melt chocolate and butter together.
  • Beat the egg white into stiff peaks.
  • Combine the egg yolks with sugar and beat.
  • Pour the melted chocolate into the yolks mixture and mix until combine.
  • Fold through the egg whites and the flour.
  • Spread the batter thinly onto a baking tray. The Genoese needs to be as thin as possible (5mm to 1cm)
  • The Genoese will form the base of your dessert so it needs to be at least the size of you mould.
  • Cook it for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Leave it cool totally.
  • Using your mould as a template cut a piece of Genoese the size of your mould.

Crunchy speculoos Layer

  • Roughly crush the wafer cookies.
  • Melt together speculoos paste and chocolate in a water bath.
  • Add the biscuits broken cookies to the chocolate mixture.
  • Spread the mixture over the frozen specular mousse to form another layer.
  • Add the Genoese on top of the chocolate biscuit layer. (you will need to work quickly)
  • Return the dessert to the freezer.

Chocolate Ganache Cover

  • Add the cream and chocolate which has been broken into squares to a microwave safe glass bowl.
  • Microwave for 40 seconds.
  • Stir the chocolate mixture until smooth.
  • Allow to cool to room temperature but not set.

Dessert presentation

  • Roughly chop the remaining speculoos cookies.
  • Unmould the dessert onto a rack. Remove the plastic wrap.
  • Pour the ganache slowly over the dessert.
  • Press the broken cookies into the base of the dessert for decoration.
  • Return the dessert to the fridge until serving.

If you are still looking for an amazing dessert for Christmas try the Bûche de Noël.

Cake Layer Added to the Mousse
Cake Layer Added to the Mousse

All the steps can be completed a few days before Christmas.  If you plan to make this dessert for Christmas complete all the steps up to the unmolding.

Adding the Ganache to the Buche de Noel
Adding the Ganache to the Buche de Noel

Leave the Bûche de Noël in the freezer in the mould until the night before serving. Complete the final step of unfolding and glazing with chocolate ganache the night before Christmas (or Christmas morning) and then store the dessert in the fridge to allow it to defrost prior to serving.

Adding Crushed Specuula cookies to the ganache to finish the presentation
Adding Crushed Specuula cookies to the ganache to finish the presentation

I hope you enjoyed our delicious French detour, I love hearing how other cultures celebrate the festive season.  Do you have any family Christmas traditions? After speaking with Romane I realised we have very few! I may need to start some of my own Christmas traditions.

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