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The 13 Desserts of Christmas
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The 13 Desserts of Christmas
When we think of the French, one thing that always springs to mind is their love of food, and Christmas in France is no exception. 13 desserts or more poetically ‘Les 13 desserts’ as it’s known locally, is a culinary Christmas tradition perfect for those with a sweet tooth.
The 13 desserts represent Jesus Christ and his 12 apostles and are served to guests after Christmas dinner. The exact choice of dessert varies from family to family, but there are a few rules which are always followed; all 13 must be served at the same time, each guest must have a piece of every dessert and they must remain on the table for three days after Christmas, during which time no one must sit at the table.
This Christmas stay at Les Lilas Blancs in Provence and receive Les 13 desserts prepared for you and your guests at no extra cost.
If you can’t get to France but want to bring a bit of French tradition to your loved ones this Christmas, why not try your hand at the ever popular La Buche de Noel or, ‘Christmas Log’. The recipe below serves up to 14 guests.
How to make La Buche de Noel
4 eggs (room temperature)
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of cake flour
7 egg whites
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate (melted and cooled)
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups plus 3 tablespoons butter (softened)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Butter a 10 by 15 inch baking pan with a 1-inch lip (jelly-roll pan) and line it with parchment paper. Butter the parchment or spray it with cooking spray.
- Beat the eggs for 5 minutes, until they turn thick and foamy, then add the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt to the eggs and continue beating for 2 minutes.
- Fold the flour, a few tablespoons at a time into the whipped egg mixture until the flour blends into the batter. (Over mixing can cause the cake to have a tough texture).
- Gently spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out any peaks.
- Bake the cake for 10 minutes until it sets.
- Invert the baked cake onto a clean, dry kitchen towel and peel off the parchment paper.
- Wait 3 minutes, then gently roll the cake in the towel, start from the 10-inch end.
- Allow the cake to cool completely.
- In a clean dry bowl beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form.
- In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and 2/3 cup water to a boil until it turns into slightly thickened syrup.
- Beat the egg whites on high speed and pour the hot sugar syrup into the eggs in a slow, steady stream.
- Pour the melted chocolate, espresso powder, and vanilla extract into the egg whites and continue beating them until the meringue has cooled completely. This should take about 5 minutes.
- While beating on a high speed, add the softened butter to the meringue two tablespoons at a time until all of the butter blends into the frosting.
- Note: If the buttercream becomes runny at any time refrigerate the meringue until it has chilled completely and continue the process of beating the butter into the meringue.
- Unroll the cake and remove the towel.
- Evenly spread 2 cups (or desired amount) of the chocolate buttercream on the inside of the cake and following its natural curve and gently form it into a cake roll.
- Diagonally cut off the ends of the cake roll and reattach them in the centre of the cake with a bit of buttercream to create a “branch” coming off the main Yule log.
- Spread the exterior of the Buche de Noel with enough chocolate buttercream to cover it and gently pull a butter knife or small, offset spatula through the frosting to give the appearance of rough tree bark.
- Add a Pere Noel figure and meringue mushrooms to complete the festive look.
- Chill the cake before serving it, and refrigerate any leftovers.
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