Yule log is a memorable dessert for the holiday table, but forget the heavy chocolate kind; this lighter, more stylish one has a nut meringue and a mascarpone and passion-fruit filling. The nuts in the meringue are interchangeable, so although this is made with almonds, you could use hazelnuts or walnuts, if you prefer. The rich filling is mellowed by the brightness of the passion fruit and the tartness of the lime zest. You can surround it with Christmas decorations to make it look festive or sift icing sugar over both the tray and the dessert for a falling-snow effect.
2 cups sliced or slivered almonds, skin on
8 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch Icing sugar for dusting
1 1/2 cups mascarpone
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup passion-fruit pulp (from two large or four small passion fruits)
2 tablespoons lime juice
Preheat oven to 350 F.
For the meringue, toast almonds on a baking sheet in the oven until golden brown, about 6 min. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Line a 15-inch-by-11-inch jelly-roll sheet with parchment paper overhanging the edges.
Reduce oven temperature to 275 F. Place egg whites and salt in a large bowl and beat until frothy. Gradually beat in 1 cup of sugar a few tablespoons at a time. Beat the mixture with an electric mixer until thick and glossy, about 10 minutes. Beat in vinegar. Reserve.
In a food processor, whirl the almonds with cornstarch and 1/2 cup of sugar until the nuts are ground. Fold into the egg-white mixture. Scoop the mixture onto the parchment paper and smooth into each corner. Level top.
Bake until lightly golden but still slightly soft, about 1 hour.
Turn out the meringue onto a tea towel dusted with icing sugar. Cool a little, then gently remove parchment paper. Cover with another tea towel and let cool to room temperature.
For the filling, beat mascarpone with sugar and lime zest in a medium bowl until fluffy, about 1 minute. Whip cream in a separate bowl until soft peaks form. Fold cream into the mascarpone mixture along with the passion-fruit pulp.
Remove the top tea towel from the roll. Spread mascarpone mixture evenly over meringue.
Grasp the long ends of the tea towel and roll up like a jelly roll.
Decorate as desired. Cut in slices to serve.