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Watch: See how one of Vancouver's favourite Christmas treats is made

Just like Santa Claus, these whimsical, decadent, French yule logs only appear once a year

For Chef Thierry Busset, it's not Christmas without a Buche de Noel. The whimsical, decadent, eye-catching dessert has been a centrepiece in his family's holiday celebrations for as long as he can remember, and for the past several years, his elegant takes on the beloved French Christmas treat are a wildly popular offering at his namesake bakeries across Vancouver. 

While the "Yule Log" tradition itself has Scandinavian roots and comes from honouring Norse god Thor, legend has it that a couple of centuries back, the French sought a way to turn their enjoyment of having a log burn on the fire through the Christmas season into something edible. 

The result: A cylindrical cream-filled sponge cake coated in chocolate ganache "bark." As the festive treat grew in esteem, so did the extent to which embellishments were added.

Five flavours of Buche de Noel on Thierry's 2023 menu

Busset's best-seller year after year - and the one flavour he has always offered - is the Chestnut Buche de Noel. It's also the flavour he enjoys at home with his own family as their Christmas tradition.

Featuring a hazelnut sponge cake, chestnut cream, and candied chestnuts, the log is coated in a thick, rich rum-infused ganache and topped with chocolate shavings, hand-made chocolate leaves, whole hazelnuts, cocoa powder, and gold leaf. 

Every year, Busset and his talented team spend some time in late fall executing and freezing all the base cakes for the chestnut yule log, along with those for that year's special edition flavours; Busset says he lets his wife take leadership on choosing those, and he grants her wish. 

For 2023, in addition to the Chestnut Buche de Noel, the three Thierry patisserie cafe locations are offering Vanilla Bean Passionfruit, Yuzu Cassis, Hazelnut Praline, and Espresso Caramel Chocolate in two sizes, small ($48.95) and large ($72.95). 

How to order a Buche de Noel

Thierry's Buche de Noel cakes, however, aren't something you can just pop in and buy on a whim. Pre-orders open up in late November for the delicacies and pick-up dates are either December 23 or 24, so that your Yule Log is freshly decorated and ready for slicing at Christmas. Pick-up is available at both Thierry's Mount Pleasant and Downtown (Alberni) shops in Vancouver, as well as at the newest outpost in West Vancouver at Ambleside. 

Just ahead of the pick-up days, the Thierry kitchen essentially becomes a Buche workshop, where the elves - or pastry staff - devote hours and hours to assembling every order by hand, ensuring each curl of chocolate or sugared chestnut is carefully placed on its perch. 

Unsurprisingly, the chestnut flavour typically sells out each year, as do many of the other flavours, making it one of Vancouver's most coveted Christmas treats. And, like Santa Claus, Thierry's beautiful, decadent, festive Buche de Noel cakes only appear once a year for a little Christmas magic.

Video: Watch Chef Thierry make his signature Chestnut Buche de Noel

@forkingawesomevia See how one of the best Christmas desserts in Vancouver is made. YULE love it! #forkingawesome #vancouverbc #vancouverfoodie #christmastreats #buchedenoel #yulelog @LindsayWR ♬ Christmas - neozilla

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