The Snook is a big fan of Stella Parks’s recipes, and at some point in the last year, I bookmarked her Classic Chocolate Yule Log with the idea of challenging him to make it for Christmas. Folks, I didn’t think he’d actually do it. I throw out these ridiculous schemes and he’s usually game for an attempt, but I figured with this one, he’d roll his eyes and settle for something simpler. Instead he blew me away. I mean, look at that! THERE’S A PISTACHIO PASTE FROG. This is literally 200% better than I expected, and I knew he was a good baker. I’m still amazed, and we’ve already eaten most of it. Lucky for you, he documented a great deal of the preparation.

This was a multiple day endeavour, and it all started with him making the homemade pistachio paste. We ended up ordering the pistachios from, because they were the only ones we could find that weren’t already roasted and salted. We couldn’t find orange flower water at all, so he just left it out.

Toasted Sugar

The next day, he toasted sugar in a skillet in the oven. He took that photo to show the difference in the toasted sugar vs. untoasted.

Making buttercream

The next step was to use the pistachio paste to make pistachio buttercream frosting. He ended up doing a lot of complicated math to adjust the quantity of the recipe, but all you need to know is: he had to separate some eggs, mix them with the toasted sugar, and add booze. Then he cooked the mixture over a makeshift double-boiler until it reached the appropriate temperature. Then he whipped it in the KitchenAid, added loads of butter, and then eventually the pistachio paste. The end result looked a lot like guacamole!

Next up were the meringue mushrooms. For these he had to mix egg whites with toasted sugar and vanilla (we couldn’t find cream of tartar so he used a tiny bit of vinegar) and then again cook this mixture on the double-boiler. Then he whipped it up, put it in a piping bag, and piped out dozens of mushroom caps and stems. He used his finger to smooth the points, and they cooked in a low oven for the better part of a day. He finished them by rubbing on cocoa powder to look like dirt.

On the final day, it was time to bake the cake. He used one of our oven trays and spread the batter, and then baked it for only 12 minutes (because it’s so thin). He took it out and let it cool to nearly room temperature. Then he spread on the pistachio buttercream and rolled it up. He left it rolled up to set for a short time, and we were amazed to see that it didn’t crack at all! He cut off a bit to fashion the branch…

…and then it was time to decorate! He made chocolate ganache (with cream, melted chocolate, and sugar) to ice the log and to glue the mushrooms together, and he used fork tines to sculpt the “bark”. He dusted the whole thing with cocoa and pistachio dust, and he used some of the leftover pistachio paste to fashion a tiny tree frog. Isn’t it AMAZING? The best part is that it tastes so good – like the chocolate cake of your dreams. He’s the best. ❤️ Thanks, Snookums…

Finished Yule Log and proud chef