IT’S THE time of year for festive cakes, drinks and fun, so for this month's recipe I want to share with you a rather fancy version of the traditional Christmas Yule log.

My latest creation includes dark chocolate, which is both rich and creates a shiny and special topping once turned into a ganache.

Whatever you are planning for your festive celebrations, you can certainly fit this Yule Log recipe into celebrations this Christmas. It makes the perfect dessert, and is also a great party centre piece.

You could even replace your traditional Christmas pudding on your Christmas day menu, it is sure to go down a treat with your guests, after all who doesn’t like chocolate?

The addition of cranberries of course adds to the festive feel of the cake.

Cranberries have been for many years been the fruits of the season. Their bitter tartness and sweet taste partner the dark chocolate perfectly, and the deep red berries also make the cake look extremely pretty.

So why is it called a Yule Log? Traditionally, a yule log is a large wooden log which is burned in the hearth as a part of traditional Yule or modern Christmas celebrations in several European cultures.

It may also be associated with the Winter Solstice festival or the Twelve Days of Christmas, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The name bûche de Noël originally refers to the yule log itself, and was transferred to the dessert only after this custom had fallen out of use, presumably during the first half of the 20th century.

A yule log cake or bûche de Noël is a traditional dessert served near Christmas, especially in France and several other Francophone countries. It is basically considered a type of sweet roulade.

The traditional bûche is made from a sponge cake, generally baked in a large, shallow Swiss Roll pan, filled with cream and rolled to form a cylinder, and decorated again on the outside.

Bûches are often served with a portion of one end of the cake cut off and set on top of the cake or protruding from its side to resemble a chopped off branch, and bark-like texture is often shown using the buttercream for further realism by using a fork through the icing or ganache.

The Yule Log is then often decorated with icing sugar to resemble festive, winter snow, and then decorated with further berries or holly.

I really hope you manage to give this fabulous twist on a classic Yule Log cake a go. If you do not like cranberries, other fruits, either defrosted-frozen or fresh work well too.

You can also switch the dark chocolate for something more child friendly such as milk or white chocolate, or if you are feeling like a change try adding chilli to the chocolate for added spice this Christmas!

Wishing you all a wonderful and peaceful Christmas and a happy new year! I shall be back in 2015 with more fabulous cake recipes and ideas for you all to enjoy.