I have always been a little bit intrigued by the bûche de Noël, a traditional French Christmas cake. It’s been said that they began in response to a proclamation by Napoleon I to close the fireplace flues and ban new ones from being built to prevent letting in winter’s cold drafts that they believed cause sickness. Because the hearth was dark and empty (or non-existent), bakers put together a tasty representation of a Yule log for people to gather around, and this tradition carries on to this day. I don’t quite believe this, as Napoleon I reigned in the beginning of the 19th century, long before the invention of space heaters and range-top cooking, so I can’t imagine how people could survive without a functional fireplace. There I go, being practical and ruining a good yarn, but whatever, it doesn’t make any sense. Anyway. Moving on.
Bûche de Noël are pretty and often quite elaborate. They’re made to look like a woodland log, so they’re covered with icing “bark” and are often decorated with meringue mushrooms and confectioner’s sugar “snow”, but depending on the baker they can get a little…see for yourself.
Jacques Torres goes the extra mile, it seems.
Anyway, when I saw a recipe in Food & Wine magazine for Baby Bûche de Noël Cookies, I was all over it. Though, as always, I have made some modifications, which you are welcome to make use of (or not). And so. First things first:
How can anything be wrong that starts out this way? And then gets this done to it:
And once that’s all mixed together and some cream is added in, roll it into two 16″ logs.
For those of you who want to know how they can possibly be expected to know how long 16″ is, I would like to suggest making clever use of a ruler, perhaps a tape measure. And keep it nearby, as it will also come in handy when you have to cut this down into two-inch pieces.
And at this point, the recipe and I somewhat diverge. It will tell you to bake the cookies at 400° for twenty minutes, which I (and at least one other commenter on the F&W webpage) feel is just a little bit too long, as the first batch burnt a little (but were salvageable) and had to be trimmed. Sixteen minutes works just fine, and rotate them once about half-way through. It will also tell you to frost them and be done with that, but of course…that’s not good enough for me.
One of the things I have always loved about the bûche is the broken limb fragment sticking out of it. I don’t know why, but for me it makes it fun and whimsical. How could I possibly mimic that?
MINI REESE’S CUPS!
Oh frabjous joy! Oh happy day! Cookies AND Reese’s? Perfection on a plate. So go ahead, frost the cookies, and then invert the mini-Reese’s and frost those too. And add in some holly berry sprinkles. Sure it takes a little extra time, but this is a special cookie for a special day.
So maybe it lacks the meringue mushrooms, but I am officially in love with this cookie.
Joyeux Noël, y’all. Peace and health to you and your families. XO