I grew up in a family where the centerpiece of the table was most likely some silk flowers or maybe some plastic holly with candles sticking out of it. But man, nothing really says “abundance” like edible holiday centerpieces: anything from bowls of fruits and nuts artfully arranged to more elaborate confections: a beautifully decorated cake, gingerbread houses, bûche de Noël, croquembouche. Once you finish your meal, just slice up your centerpiece and have it for dessert.
Today, I’m bringing you a round up of edible holiday centerpieces, specifically bûche de Noël (bûches de Noël?). I think some people are a bit intimidated by the thought of making a bûche de Noël, especially the cake-rolling-up part. Once that part is behind you (and honestly, it doesn’t matter one little bit if it cracks some as you start to roll), it’s all about the decoration. So here’s a round up of some beautiful, creative edible holiday bûche de Noël centerpieces.
Note that while some of these are decorated to look like realistic logs, many are just evocative because of the shape of the cake. No need to get stressed out if you’re not crafty–just decorate yours in a way that reflects your own aesthetic.
Edible Holiday Centerpieces: Bûche de Noël
Click on the recipe titles to go to the recipe. All photos are used with permission.
Nicole from Wonky Wonderful really knocks this one out of the park. Or into the fireplace! The flames really make this one, and the orange color even hints at the orange buttercream filling. The whole thing is coated in rich chocolate ganache. You’ll be smiling all through dinner with this little number!
From super-realistic flames to a more stylized log we go. Jamie of Life’s a Feast makes at least one bûche de Noël every year (you’ll find links to her others in her post, and I’m sharing one more here), and this year she eschewed chocolate at her husband’s request (what?!) and went with vanilla sponge, mascarpone cream and a dreamy wild blueberry and black currant jam. Beautiful!
Triple Chocolate Buche de Noel
Liz’s (That Skinny Chick Can Bake) work is always so elegant. Just look! And this buche is a chocolate-lover’s dream too. Chocolate sponge rolled around a decadent but light chocolate mousse and slathered in textured ganache, it really does look like a sleek, perfect log. And the meringue mushrooms lend a whimsical touch.
Tiramisu Buche de Noel (Gluten-Free)
This is Debra’s, from Smith Bites, first ever bûche de Noël, and man is it gorgeous! Gluten free vanilla sponge soaked in coffee syrup with a chestnut mascarpone cream filling and whipped cream “bark” scented with both chestnut and coffee. Oh my! If this, Deb’s first one ever, doesn’t assure you that you can do this, I don’t know what will! So pretty!
This beauty made my Aimee of Simple Bites just blows me away. I mean: the greenery! The swirls of ganache on the ends of the “branches!” The deer! And who doesn’t love hazelnut and chocolate together? And guess what? She made this with her son, and if a kid can do it, so can you.
This is my bûche de Noël from this year. I hadn’t even attempted to make one in twenty years. The cake is gluten-free–no flour substitutes because it’s flourless–the cream comes together quickly in a stand mixer, and the the ganache bark is made from just chocolate and cream and textured with the tines of a fork.
Chocolate Peppermint Cake Roll
A bûche by any other name. Amy from Very Culinary calls this a cake roll, but it looks like a bûche de Noël to me! Based on a devil’s food cake mix, this cake is a snap to put together, and the filling and topping are chopped peppermint bark. So festive and pretty and perfect on your holiday table.
Milky Way Simply Caramel Flourless Chocolate Cake Roll
Brianne (Cupcakes and Kale Chips) made this cake roll for Easter, but whatever, right? I am positive that this cake roll would make just as lovely a bûche de Noël at Christmas. Whipped cream filling studded with chopped Simply Caramel bites, coated in a thin layer of ganache and then drizzled with milk chocolate caramel. You can do this.
Here is another of Jamie’s (Life’s a Feast) festive Christmas cakes. I just love this one! All she did to make the “bark” was to let long dribbles of melted chocolate harden up and then stuck them to the outside of the cake. So cool. And the flavor combination just screams Christmas.
Edible Holiday Centerpieces: Croquembouche
Croquembouche, literally translated, means “crispy in mouth.” The crispiness of a croquembouche comes from the thin layer of caramelized sugar on the outside of the individual cream puffs. Inside each puff is lovely pastry cream. Traditionally vanilla, you can flavor your pastry cream however you like. Another of the beauties of a croquembouche is that they don’t keep well for more than a few hours. That means your guests have to eat it.
I have to tell you, not a ton of bloggers tackle the croquembouche, and it’s a shame. They look impressive and they aren’t hard to make, honest, although they can be a bit time-consuming. And what a glorious centerpiece a towering croquembouche would make on a holiday buffet!
In searching for photos of croquembouche I could share, I came across one I thought particularly striking with an elegant, tall, thin conical shape and adorned with gumpaste flowers. When I clicked on it, I realized I knew who had made it. My friend, Joe Pastry! He has generously allowed me to use his photograph (thanks, Joe!). After you finish admiring the beauty, do head over to his site for a really detailed tutorial on how to make your own croquembouche.
Edible Holiday Centerpieces: The Narnia Cake
I just posted this cake a couple of days ago, but I think it bears repeating. Not necessarily for the exact recipe, although the carrot cake/eggnog cream cheese frosting combination is great, but for the way it’s decorated. It’s very easy to do, and for those of you who still don’t believe you can make a bûche de Noël, this cake is a less intimidating prospect.
- Make a layer cake and put a thin coat of icing between the layers.
- Cut it in half and stack the halves on top of each other with a little more frosting.
- Turn the cake flat side down on a serving plate.
- Frost and decorate.
The fun part is there are so many ways to decorate a cake like this. You can decorate it like a hill, either a winter one or a springtime hill for Easter, or you can decorate it like a log–making arcs of frosting on each end as if it’s a portion of a tree stump lying on its side in the snow.
I’m calling it “The Narnia Cake” because Ryan, who sent me the carrot cake recipe, emailed me to say the way I decorated the cake reminded him of Narnia! Call it what you want: hill cake, Narnia cake, fallen log. This would be a great project to do with your kids. You could even make small ones out of halved cupcakes and your kids could decorate them individually. Have fun with it!
I hope you’re inspired by all these lovely cakes, bûche de Noël and otherwise. Thank you for spending time with me today. Have a truly lovely holiday.