You know what's fun? Walking into a humdrum holiday party with an elaborate bûche de Noël. People will gasp and get out of your way. Kids, especially, will freak out, because they're excitable freaks. You'll part the crowd like a sweet-toothed Moses. Somewhere, somehow, there will be a record scratch. "What?" you'll say. "You fools never seen a bûche de Noël before?"
But here's the thing: Making a real bûche de Noël is hard and takes forever. You have to roll the thing ever so delicately. And, you know, spread the jam, wash the jam off your hands before the dog gets to it, buy Cognac and do all this other stuff I don't even know about because I've never made one. Luckily, there's a bûche de Noël shortcut, courtesy of Abby Swain, the Executive Pastry Chef at Temple Court in New York City. Her secret? You guessed it: ice box cake.
Abby's ice box cake version has all the fixins that make a classic bûche de Noël so impressive (meringue mushrooms, flash-fried rosemary, a pinecone make out of a chocolate truffle and almonds, and ground pepitas moss), but it's way more approachable. The log core is a stack of cookies with cream in between. It gets coated in buttercream, scraped with a fork, and covered in powdered sugar so it looks like a log in a Swiss forest. The final step is taking a thousand photos and showing it off to everyone you know.