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A traditional french dessert served during the holidays, Gothamist gets excited about these each year. They come in every kind of flavor combination: chocolate/coffee, chocolate/caramel, lemon, raspberry, there are even ice-cream-cake versions. They're usually made with a sponge cake, layered with flavored buttercream or other filling, rolled up and then covered with more buttercream and decorated with powdered sugar, fondant leaves or mushrooms, or other decorations. Intended to look like a log ready for the fire, they're eaten on Christmas day.

The tradition originated in pagan times, when a log would be burned on the shortest day of the year to symbolize the rebirth of the sun. The tradition survived Christianity and evolved into a pastry when (some say) Napoleon I put a stop to the burning of the log in France by requiring that Parisiens close their chimneys during the winter for better health. With no more yule log to burn, french bakers invented a replacement: the buche de noel.

You can get a buche de noel at Payard Patisserie, Bouley Bakery, and at Kitchenette. Pre-ordering is recommended.

Photo of a Buche de Noel from Bouley Bakery by Tien Mao