“This Yule log brings back loads of happy memories for me – it was one of the first desserts I ever made as a kid, at Christmas time, of course! This is my slightly more grown-up version, which is really good fun to make and decorate. ”
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. For the sponge, line a 25cm x 30cm baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Separate the eggs. In an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks with a pinch of sea salt. Gradually whisk in the icing sugar, then, one-by-one, whisk in the egg yolks until really pale and light.
Sift in the flour and cocoa powder, add the vanilla bean paste, then fold everything together with a large metal spoon so you keep in as much air as possible.
Spoon the mixture into the lined tray, gently and evenly spread it out, then bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just cooked through and springy to the touch.
Place a large sheet of greaseproof paper (35cm x 45cm) on a flat surface and evenly sprinkle over the caster sugar from a height.
While it’s still hot and flexible, turn the sponge out on to the paper. Peel off and discard the baked piece of greaseproof.
With one of the longest sides in front of you, fold up the excess paper, then roll up the sponge with the paper inside (as it cools, this will set the shape but prevent the sponge from cracking). Leave to cool.
For the filling, mix the chestnut purée and cinnamon together. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream to soft peaks, then fold in the honey.
To assemble, unroll the sponge so it’s flat, removing the paper. Spread all over with the chestnut purée, followed by the cream, then smash and sprinkle over the Crunchie bar or honeycomb.
Re-roll and pop into the fridge. Meanwhile, make your buttercream.
Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water, then remove and leave to cool.
Beat the butter in an electric mixer until pale, then, with the mixer still running, gradually add the icing sugar and cool melted chocolate.
Take the log out of the fridge, chop off a quarter at an angle – that’s the branch – and position it on your serving board like in the picture, using a splodge of buttercream to keep it in place.
Evenly cover the whole log with buttercream, then use a fork to decorate it. Dust with extra icing sugar and a pinch of sea salt, shaved chocolate, sprinkles, plastic Bambi figures, whatever you like – go to town!