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Chocolate (Dark) Yule Log

Over time traditions and customs can change. As we approach Christmas Day, it is astounding to many to discover that Yule Day was just a normal working day for the majority of Scots until the late 1950s/early 1960s. Indeed at one time it was common across Scotland that Santa Claus didn't bring an apple, orange and sixpence to bairns until Hogmanay. There are still some Scots who only open any gifts received over the Daft Days at New Year thus keeping older traditions alive. New Year was the important day - a public holiday - and a time for families to enjoy the turn of the year and a new beginning. The same hope and aspiration that inspired our forebears to light bonfires to mark the Winter Soltice. Fire still plays a part in Scottish celebration of the New Year in burghs such as Stonehaven and Burghead.
This column is taking a short break over the Daft Days and wishes to round off 2003 with a suitable festive recipe for bairns of all ages. Chocolate Yule Log is the perfect treat for all festive gatherings over the Daft Days and this recipe easily gives six to eight servings.
So until 2004 Seasons Greetings - Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ur; A Gled Yule an a Guid Noo Yeir; Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - to all Flag visitors.
Chocolate (Dark) Yule Log
Ingredients :  8 large eggs;8 oz (225 g) caster sugar; 8 oz (225 g) dark chocolate; pinch of salt
For the filling and covering : 8 oz (225 g) dark chocoate; 1 pint (600 ml) double cream, divided into two equal lots; a spoonful of icing sugar (sieved)
Line a baking tray, 12 x 16 inch (30 x 40 cm) with baking parchment. Put a dab of butter in the corners to anchor the paper neatly. Separate the yolks from the whites, and whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar till very thick and pale. Break the chocolate into a bowl and put bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water - watch that base of bowl doesn't touch water. When the chocolate has melted, lift the bowl from the saucepan and let the chocolate cool for several minutes. Then, scrape it into the yolk mixture and mix thoroughly. In a clean bowl and with clean whisk, whisk up the egg whites with a pinch of salt, till the whites are very stiff. With a large metal spoon, fold the whites thoroughly through the chocolate mixture. Scrape this on to the prepared lined baking tray, smoothing it evenly. Bake in a moderate oven, 350 deg F/180 deg C/ Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes. Then remove from oven  and cover with a slightly damp cloth. Leave to cool.
Make the chocolate cream filling by putting the broken-up chocolate into a saucepan. Melt the chocolate over a moderate heat. When it has all melted, stir the chocolate into the cream (1/2 pint)- dinna fash if at first it looks curdled - keep stirring until it comes together into a smooth, rich cream. Cool the chocolate cream.Whip the rest of the cream till fairly stiff. When cooled, fold the chocolate cream and the whipped cream together.
To assemble the Yule Log, lay a sheet of baking parchment on to work surface. Tip the cooked roulade base on to this, carefully peeling the paper off, in strips parallel to the chocolate base. Spread about a third of the chocolate cream over the roulade base, and roll up, lengthways. Cut a diagonal slice off, about a third of the way down the length. Stick it on the side, to give the effect of a small branch. Put the log on a serving plate and spread the rest of the chocolate cream all over it. Form bark patterns on the chocolate covering with a fork and dust with icing sugar just before serving to give a snow effect.

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