Healthy Cranberry Orange Yule Log

Well this is it. Here we are. Christmas is finally upon us.

So first and foremost, let me wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas. I hope this day is filled with joy and warmth, smiles, love and laughter for each and every one of you.

Christmas hasn’t been real easy for me this year, because, you know, Christmas without my daddy really isn’t Christmas at all, and I never really succeeded at getting into the Holiday spirit. As a result, I didn’t come up with much decent healthy Christmas recipes, but I still managed to create this great recipe for a healthy yet traditional Yule Log.

In all humility, I think it’s my greatest dessert success so far.

First off, you’re looking at a cake that’s incredibly moist and tender. Then you get so many different textures from the various components, it’s almost like there’s an expedition going on in your mouth. You get the slight crunch from the almonds, the chewiness of the cranberries, the smooth creaminess of the icing and the final little bit of a bite from the coconut.

All the different flavors mingling in your mouth is also quite the adventure. You get a little bit of sweetness from the honey and a little bit of tartness from the oranges and cranberries, all so delicately held together by the subtle taste of the almonds and coconut.

And that cream cheese frosting? Oh my, am I on to something here! It’s just that close from becoming my perfect pipeable icing!

Now I really want to thank Erin, over at Texanerin Baking for that one, as the whole inspiration came to me after reading her recipe for a delicious honey sweetened, orange cranberry sauce.

I know, it’s a bit too late for you to go and whip this baby up now, especially since it’s fairly time consuming to put together, but hey, no one says you absolutely have to make this exclusively on Christmas day.

New Year’s could also work! ;)

Plus, no one says you even have to make that one into a log. It could very easily be made into a traditional round or square cake.

For as far as I can remember, I’ve always had the same thing for breakfast on Christmas morning: a giant, and I do mean GIANT piece of cake.

To me, this is like some sort of a tradition. One that I simply cannot break that easily. It’s always been the ONLY day of the year when I would allow myself to do something like that.

And I am proud to say that, this year was no exception.

The only difference is that, this time, having had cake for breakfast will actually help me get through this day, and NOT knock me down to the floor right before the day has even started.

Too good to be true, you say?

Not at all. Take a look at the ingredient list for that one. It’s got almonds, eggs, cranberries, oranges, cheese, yogurt, all sorts of things that are good for you.

No unhealthy fats, no refined sugar. Nothing but good things.

In fact, this was probably the healthiest part of our Christmas Eve dinner, last night. And probably the tastiest too!

And by far, my favorite!

HEALTHY CRANBERRY ORANGE YULE LOG

INGREDIENTS
(Serves 12-14)

For the cake

  • 225g almond meal
  • 40g spelt flour
  • 3 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1½ cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • ¼ tsp almond extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup (6) egg whites

For the cranberry sauce
(Adapted from Texanerin Baking)

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (4 should do the trick)
  • Zest of 4 oranges
  • ½ cup unpasteurized honey
  • 1 12-ounce package (340 grams) of cranberries

For the icing

  •  1 cup 0% fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 8oz package low fat cream cheese
  • ¼ cup unpasteurized honey
  • 1/3 cup coconut butter, softened
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • zest of 1 orange, very finely chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

For the cranberry sauce (make ahead of time, as this needs to chill)

  1. Zest the oranges first, then extract the juice out of them. Add one cup of orange juice, the zest and the honey to a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until the honey has dissolved.
  2. Add the cranberries and cook until most of them have popped. It takes about 10 – 15 minutes. You don’t even have to stir them, but I’m sure you won’t be able to resist the urge to do that from time to time.
  3. Let the sauce cool down a little then transfer it to the fridge to completely cool, at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. The sauce will be much thicker when cold.

For the cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F and spray a 12 x 18 baking sheet with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper. (The cooking spray will help the parchment paper adhere to the baking sheet, which is really important, so you don’t want to skip this step. If you don’t have cooking spray, brush very lightly with oil.)
  2. Add the almond meal and spelt flour to a large mixing bowls and whisk until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, add the eggs, applesauce, almond extract, salt and vanilla. Whisk until well incorporated.  Set aside.
  4. Using a stand or electric mixer, beat the egg whites until firm.
  5. Add liquid mixture to dry mixture and mix until well incoporated.
  6. Very delicately, fold in the egg whites with a whisk or rubber spatula.
  7. Spread that cake batter as evenly as possible onto the baking sheet and cook in a 375F oven for 23-25 minutes, or until top is nice and golden.
  8. Take out of the oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes, then flip sheet cake over a clean tea towel. Do not remove parchment paper at this point. Allow to cool completely.

For the icing

  1. Using a stand or electric mixer, beat cream cheese until nice and fluffy.
  2. Add honey and mix until well incorporated, then incorporate yogurt.
  3. Cut the vanilla pod in 2 lengthwise and scrape the seeds with the back of a paring knife. Add that to the cream cheese mixture, as well as the orange zest. Mix on high speed until vanilla seeds and zest are well dispersed.
  4. Add softened coconut butter and mix on high speed until icing is nice, firm and fluffy in texture. (To soften coconut butter, either process it in a mini food processor for about a minute, or microwave for a few seconds.)

Assembly

  • Remove the parchment paper from the cake sheet but do not discard.
  • Spread cranberry sauce evenly over the entire surface of the cake sheet.
  • Using the tea towel as support, start rolling the longest side of the cake onto itself. Keep rolling, very delicately, until you end up with a nice long log. Position the seam underneath the log and place parchment paper on top. Wrap tea towel around the log and tighten it some to help the log keep its cylindrical shape.
  • Transfer the cake to the baking sheet again and chill for at least 4 hours before icing it.
  • When cake is completely cooled and feels firm to the touch, take it out of the fridge and remove towel from around it.
  • Cut both ends on a diagonal. Make sure you keep at least one (you can eat the other, it’s allowed!)
  • Transfer log to serving plate and spread icing evenly, leaving both ends open. Make sure to keep some of that icing for the knot.
  • Grab one of the two ends that you previously removed and position it on the top of your log, slightly off-centered, to create a “knot”.
  • Spread icing evenly around that know, again, leaving the end open.
  • Decorate with poinsettia flowers, or whatever other Christmas ornaments that you may like.

 

 

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Comments

    • says

      I really wouldn’t see why not! I’m not familiar with bilberries, but so long as you get a fruit jam like consistency, you will be fine! And if your sauce doesn’t get thick enough, you could always use a thickener, like cornstarch or arrowroot…

      I will definitely have to investigate bilberries. They look like a very interesting fruit. Wonder where I could find those? The search begins…

  1. says

    Hey Sonia, that’s one very beautiful cake! Sorry to hear that you have been sad lately and missing your father. It’s so hard losing a loved one and it’s sad that times when we’re together with our families and should be joyful are sometimes the worst because we feel their absence so much more. May you find comfort in your family and your shared memories of him.

    Mellissa

    • says

      Thank you so much Mellissa, your comforting words mean a lot to me. Although I chose not to be with my family this year, and I do hope that they understand, I did find comfort in respecting myself and my decision and doing what I truly wanted to do on Christmas day. I needed to be alone on that day and that’s what I did. I simply did not have the strength to go through the whole family gathering thing. Perhaps next year will be different. The important thing is I manage to have a truly wonderful Christmas after all. Hey, glad you like the cake! :)

  2. says

    Beautiful! Your cake sounds delicious, especially the coconut butter in the icing, oh my goodness, yum! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! I’m sorry to hear that it’s such a hard time of year, but I hope you got to enjoy time with your family anyways :)

    • says

      Thank you Heidi. That icing really is the start of a beautiful thing. I can sense grand creations will be emerging from that gorgeous frosting! I did end up having a wonderful Christmas after all… Thank you very much for you kind words, I truly appreciate that! :)

  3. says

    Now that is a much better looking yule log than I managed to put together. Delicious it was but mmm, it cracked so not so good looking unfortunately. Sorry to hear that Christmas had been hard for you with your dad gone. I know how that feels as this Christmas was also the first without Tom’s mom, so it was pretty emotional at times too. Nevertheless we had a great time and I hope you did too!

    • says

      I can’t believe that you, of all people, managed to mess your Yule Log. You make the most astonishingly gorgeous desserts ever! Did you take pictures? I’m sure you are exaggerating. ;)

      As for Christmas, to be honest, I chose not to be there with my family this year because I just didn’t have the strength to do the “very emotional thing”. Instead, I spent Christmas alone at home, but doing something that was very important to me and that made me extremely happy. I think that my dad would’ve agreed with my decision, too. So I’d say it has been a really good Christmas after all! Hopefully, next year I will feel stronger and will be able to attend!

      Sorry to hear that your Christmas has been a tad rough to for very similar reasons. I feel you. It’s really not easy. Glad you managed to have a good time still!

  4. says

    This looks lovely, and such a welcome alternative to the usual yule logs dripping with cream, chocolate and butter. Hope you had a wonderful holiay despite sadness about your Dad.

  5. says

    I’m also having a very sad Christmas. I’m sorry that you’re feeling the same way. :(

    Your log is beautiful and it something I can try because I have everything needed to make it. And I’m super proud that you used my cranberry sauce recipe. Thanks for that. It made me really happy which I need at the moment.

    I hope you’re feeling a little bit better!

    • says

      Oh, Erin, I’m so saddened to hear that Christmas has also been tough on you. It’s so not easy trying to put on a good face and keep smiling when all you want to do is skip the whole thing altogether and move on to the next year already. But, no matter how badly I dreaded “the season” this year, I’ve had some very beautiful things happen to me on Christmas Day and Eve, and everything turned out mighty fine after all. Well, for me, anyway. In my heart and mind. I know that not everyone in my family agrees with the choices that I made, but in the end, I think that one should make of Christmas what they want it to be. I hope you ended up finding some joy and happiness on the dreaded day also.

      As for this yule log, I cannot thank you enough for the inspiration. As soon as I saw your recipe, that’s what came to mind. I knew I had to give this a try. I never thought it would be such a huge success though. All who tasted it agreed with me: this is one darn good dessert, never mind the health factor. It’s just hmmm hmmmm good!

      And it’s just opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me!

      Hey, hope you are feeling better too. Chin up girlfriend, and may 2012 be a grand year for you! And a huge virtual hug to you! :D

      • says

        I also just wanted to be alone. I got to skip Christmas Eve, which is the big day here, because it was at my place, but I “had” to go to my in-laws for Christmas Day. I was not happy. No joy or happiness at all during that day, but I’m happy that you had some. I think that you’re right. You should concentrate on what you feel okay with at this time and not try to please everyone and be fake. A big hug to you, too!

        When I said I was proud, I meant to say “honored.” I am proud, but honored was the word I meant to write. I’m really happy the log worked out! I can’t wait to try it.

        Thanks for your very nice message. :)

      • says

        Oh, I totally got that you were honored, Erin. Don’t worry about that!

        So sorry to hear that Christmas didn’t bring you any joy at all. Hey, let’s just hope that next year will be a much better Christmas. Can’t have 2 bad Christmases in a row, you know… I think there’s even a law against that! ;)

        Lots of love, Erin. You’re the best. :)

  6. says

    I can only imagine how hard this Christmas must have been without your daddy this year, that’s not an easy thing at all to have to work through. Holidays after various grandparents passed away were always difficult for my family but most especially for either my mom or dad :(
    Here’s to beautiful memories of your dad and knowing he is at peace!

    And Sonia, that Yule log looks perfect!!! I can taste the frosting, cake and filling through the screen…I want a huge slice now!!! need to try that frosting ASAP!
    Ps I love the tradition of cake for brekkie on christmas morning :)

    • says

      Thank you Nora, I truly appreciate your comforting words. Like you said, my dad is at peace and was probably happy that he finally got to take it easy on Christmas day. I bet he was watching from up there, though, making sure that everything was under control and that the kitchen got cleaned up nice and good. ;)

      Glad you like the cake. That frosting really is amazing. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts! :D

  7. says

    So there was a change of plan in today’s baking schedule and I had to make King Cake since King Cake season ends on Tuesday. I wanted to make it refined sugar free (and it’s 100% whole wheat! BUT it uses butter, but it’s brioche… brioche needs butter) so I used the frosting from this recipe! Yay! The traditional frosting is just a powdered sugar glaze so this was way way better.

    I figured something out today. When I make Greek yogurt using 1.5% yogurt and use 500 grams to yield 1 cup of Greek yogurt, I’m multiplying all the nutrients by 5. So my Greek yogurt using 1.5% yogurt is actually 7.5% fat after draining. Haha. There’s no winning, whatever I do! I need to see if 0% fat yogurt even exists here. Then it’d actually be worth it to drain the yogurt myself.

    Anyway, super frosting recipe! :)

    • says

      Glad you liked that frosting! So you like my frosting and I like your cranberry sauce. That’s a major WIN!

      And what a bummer about that yogurt, but you are so right! Gee, it must be extremely liquid before you strain it! I haven’t had regular yogurt in so long, I can’t even remember… I seriously hope you manage to get your hands on low fat Greek yogurt eventually. I couldn’t imagine my life without it. I must go through well over a kilo a week!

      But wait… 500 grams is about 2 cups, right? So you would be multiplying by 2, not by 5. Or am I completely wrong here?

  8. says

    The 500 grams is the size of the container and it’s before the draining. After the draining, I get one cup. So for this one cup of drained yogurt, I have to calculate the entire nutritional info for the entire 500 gram container (by multiplying everything by 5, since the nutritional info is listed by 100 grams and not by the cup) since the fat and stuff doesn’t go out with the whey. That comes out to 310 calories, 27 grams protein, and 32 grams of sugar. And multiplying the 1.5% fat by 5 comes out to 7.5%. Oh well. It tastes good and so I’m satisfied. :)

    • says

      Right, the nutritional info is for 100 grams. Still, there are some nutients in the whey that you leave behind, so it wouldn’t be as easy as multiplying everything by 5. And the fat percentage remains the same, whether you are looking at 100g or 500g. However, it would increase some after straining the yogurt, but I don’t think it would be by more than half, since you say you start with 2 cups and end up with 1 cup once strained. So still better than the million percent fat Greek yogurt you guys have! ;)

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