“ Type: Other Desserts „
Okay it's time to get seasonal and I hope even Mr Duncantorr will forgive me for this even though it is not yet Christmas Eve!
Last weekend I hosted a "present swap" visit by three generations of cousins and, although I felt it too early for decorations, I thought it admissible to introduce a slight suggestion of festive spirit into my catering choices. I was pressed for time and creating my own fancy Yule Log was not an option so, finding that Sainsbury's were offering a two for one deal totalling just £1.59 on their Chocolate Logs I plumped for that!
~~~~Sainsbury's Chocolate Yule Log~~~~
When my order arrived, the Chocolate Logs were not packaged as above but in smart red boxes designed to resemble Christmas wrap embossed with seasonal images such as stockings, Santas in sleighs, robins and holly plus the image of a red ribbon bow holding a tag displaying slices of the goodies within. But there was a significant difference in the description on the box. These were not the " Sainsbury's Chocolate Logs" as ordered but "Sainsbury's Chocolate YULE Logs" and, significantly, they were not listed as substitutions! Therefore it seems this is how the standard Chocolate Logs are "dressed up" at this time of year!
The offering wrapped in cellophane inside appeared much the same as the non seasonal variety! It was the usual chocolate Swiss roll (measuring 7insL x 2insH x 3insW for the purist and not therefore perfectly circular!) with chocolate flavoured buttercream filling and coated with a thin layer of milk chocolate. The only concession to Yule, apart from the packaging, was a dusting of white powder on top which I thought was icing sugar but which is apparently a mixture of glucose, cornflour and vegetable oil.
The overall taste was quite acceptable. The sponge was a little powdery and thin for my taste but there was ample buttercream to distract one's attention from this. The chocolate coating was satisfactory, tasting like the Cadbury's Milk variety and certainly not the synthetic tasting cooking chocolate to be found in some similar confections. The white powder sprinkled topping was hardly noticeable just adding a little sweetness overall if you were lucky enough to get some to get some on your serving! All those partaking seemingly did so with some relish. It was particularly popular with the children and I did not come far behind!
Of course nutritionally it is a nightmare! The five sector Sainsbury's traffic light, nutrition warning system registers four red sectors and one orange. This apparently serves eight (and as it is only 7 inches long these would be quite small slices!) and each slice contains 156 calories, 7.9g fat, 4.9g saturated fat and 15.4g total sugars and 0.19 salt. But then it is ALMOST Christmas. More seriously for allergy sufferers the product contains milk, egg, wheat, gluten and soya and, because of the manufacturing methods, it's not suitable for nut allergy sufferers.
But now I have to take issue with Sainsbury's and I feel quite uncharitable in doing so especially as I have "knocked" a few of their products lately! As a whole I am quite a Sainsbury's devotee and I will make it one of my New Year resolutions to review some of their products on which I have more favourable views. Their Chocolate Log is tasty enough and reasonably priced, especially when it's on the BOGOF offer. However, and this is more of a niggling irritation than a serious complaint, THIS IS NOT A YULE LOG!
~~~~The Tradition of the Yule Log~~~
In my family decorating the Chocolate Yule Log was one of our Christmas Eve traditions ranking alongside cooking the sausage rolls, making the mince pies, cooking the ham and adding the final decorations to the Christmas cake. We occasionally made the Swiss roll from scratch but often this was too fiddly and time consuming so we would buy the roll and confine our talents to decorating it and we decorated it NOT WITH SOLID CHOCOLATE BUT WITH LASHINGS OF CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM. Using a fork, we would make indentations in the buttercream to resemble tree bark, adding the occasional flourish to represent a knot in the timber.
Now I am not so egocentric as to suggest that our traditional family practice is the right, proper and only way things should be done but I have researched recipes quite thoroughly on the web. There are hundreds but, of the two dozen or so I checked, every one uses chocolate buttercream or, in a couple of US recipes, " frosting" which is a similar recipe.
Of course traditions evolve and change over the years. Indeed the original Yule Log had nothing to do with Christmas or confectionery but is thought to date back to the days of the Vikings and their midwinter festivals. One such festival honoured Odin who was also known as Jol or Jule (pronounced Yule). The festival included much feasting and drinking around the log burning in the hearth and the Yule log was linked with health and productivity. Over the centuries many variations of this tradition spread throughout Europe. One that particularly amused me is associated with Dartmoor where the Yule Log became the " Great Ashen Faggot" and consisted of a bundle of ash sticks. Every Christmas Eve a fire was lit using a new faggot mixed with the remains of the fire of the previous year. I am sure that would confuse American readers! But I digress!
According to Wikipedia the tradition of the Yule log as a confection began in France in the 18th -19th but there too the " Buche de Noel" was and is a far richer offering than Sainsbury's version and covered in --- yes --- buttercream!
Maybe I am being ultra pernickety in upholding the traditions of our Chocolate Yule Log but I feel it is a step too far for Sainsbury's to use the ordinary chocolate covered Swiss Roll or Chocolate Log which they seem to stock all year and turn it into a Yule Log at Christmas with only a sprinkling of white glucose powder and a more luxurious box to disguise it. The true Chocolate Yule Log is far more delicious and decorative. Anybody who values their waist line would only allow themselves to tuck into it occasionally and at a time when we are prepared for a little indulgence and that is what makes it so special!
This year is a special year because I will not be buying or making a traditional Christmas cake. The rich fruit cake will be reserved for Boxing Day when, suitably decorated, it will be centre stage of the "spread" to celebrate my parents' Diamond Wedding Anniversary - yes, sixty years!
On Christmas Day our Chocolate Yule Log will take pride of place. Having become lazy over the years I will buy the Swiss roll (a superior one from the local family run bakery) and create my own butter icing. The recipe I use is simple and passed down from my Mum:-
2 oz butter
4 oz icing sugar (sifted)
1 level tablespoon cocoa powder
1.Cream the butter and icing sugar together
2.Fold in the cocoa powder
Having spread the butter icing over the roll and forked it prettily to resemble the wood grain and in circles at each end, I will make my own little variation by strategically placing some slithers of chocolate flake bars to give more texture to the "bark". (I can mess with tradition but I resent it when it's commercially motivated!) After a dusting of icing sugar, some cake decorations, a robin and a few small holly leaves, will add the finishing touch! And it will look splendid on its silver cake board but probably not be eaten until a few days after Christmas because everybody will be too bloated to face it!
Nevertheless, THIS for me, Mr Sainsbury, is a traditional Chocolate Yule Log. I wonder if this review will elicit other variations on this theme or indeed controversy about this traditional Christmas fayre?
I checked on Sainsbury's' website before publishing this review to see if the two for one deal was still on offer and could hardly believe that no Chocolate Log nor Yule Log is currently available. Could it be that they are just temporarily out of stock or that a new but, hopefully, more traditional variety is about to be launched?
Here's wishing everybody a Season of Happiness and Peace with a fair sprinkling of whatever traditions you hold dear!