The Georgetown Lombardi Arts & Humanities Program

December 15, 2022 | Vol. LXXXIII

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Welcome to the Georgetown Lombardi Arts & Humanities Program (AHP) newsletter. In this week's newsletter we are pleased to share artist-in-residence, Claire Wagner's award-winning recipe for Buche Aux Marrons, Yule Log with Chestnuts. We also have a festive performance by artist-In-residence Karen Ashbrook, Paul Oorts and Jim North, as well as our winter Eventbrite course schedule!

Claire's Yule Log with Chestnuts Recipe

For the holidays, we are pleased to present artist-in-residence Claire Wagner’s award-winning recipe for Buche Aux Marrons, Yule Log with Chestnuts. Claire was awarded first prize in the Seagrams V. O. International Recipe Contest in 1973. She shares the story of her experience as a contestant in the interview below. 

What was your background in French cooking at the time of the contest?

Pierre and I moved to New York from France in 1967. I had been a home economics teacher there for many years and had recently begun teaching adult education classes in French cooking throughout New York City. At that time, Julia Childs was “in.” Pierre had met Florence Fabricant, a food writer for The New York Times. She said to him, “We desperately need French cooking teachers. Can your wife teach?” That is how I started teaching adult education classes in French cooking. I taught the classes throughout New York during the 1970s and 1980s.

What inspired you to enter your recipe into the contest?

We missed being with our family in France. It was a Sunday in winter before Christmas. I had gotten a Gourmet magazine where I found an advertisement for the annual Seagrams V.O. International Recipe Contest. It said that I could send in a recipe and become a contestant. So I sat in front of the computer and wrote a recipe for a Buche aux Marrons, Yule Log with Chestnuts, which was a desert our family in France served at Christmas.

Where did your ideas for the dish come from?

I knew a yule log recipe, but it was in the metric system, so I had to translate the measurements. I made up the rest from what I learned as a child in school or by watching my family. I made a jelly roll filled with buttercream and chestnuts topped with more buttercream and garnished with chestnuts and meringue shaped as mushrooms.


How did you learn that you were a finalist, and what was it like to be a contestant?

Not long after I sent in the recipe, to my surprise, I received a notice saying that I was one of five finalists and was invited with Pierre to San Francisco for three days. This was in 1973. We stayed in first class hotels. Every night we had dinner in a different restaurant and a desert from one of the contestants was served. This happened for four nights. On the fifth night, we went to Ernie’s, a famous French restaurant at the time. At the end of the meal, the chef came out with a huge dish. It was a yule log with chestnuts. It was then that I learned that I would win the first prize.


How did it feel to have the winning dish?

I felt flabbergasted, without words. They gave me $5,000 and a silver dish as prizes.


3 eggs, separated

1 1/4 cups superfine sugar

1/4 cup cold water

2 tsp. vanilla

2 1/4 cups sifted flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 egg white

1/2 cup SUGAR SYRUP (below)


12 marrons glaces or candied violets for garnish


  • Beat together egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy.
  • Beat in water and vanilla.
  • Sift together flour and baking powder and fold into egg mixture.
  • Beat 4 egg whites stiff and fold into batter, gently but quickly.
  • Butter a 11 x 16-inch baking sheet or jelly roll pan. Line with wax paper and butter again.
  • Spread batter evenly over bottom of pan and bake in a moderate oven (325 degrees F) 20 minutes or until sides of cake shrink away from pan.
  • Invert warm cake onto a moist kitchen towel, peel off wax paper.
  • Moisten cake with SUGAR SYRUP and spread thin layer of CHESTNUT BUTTER CREAM before rolling it. (The leftover BUTTER CREAM is used for the outside of the cake). Roll up, and cool.
  • Cut off ragged cake ends on the bias and ice with CHESTNUT BUTTER CREAM to simulate the bark of a tree.
  • Surround with maroons places or candied violets. Makes 10-12 servings.

Sugar Syrup: 

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

2 tbsp. rum

Stir sugar and water into saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Raise heat and boil syrup, stirring, 10 minutes or until a candy thermometer registers 220 degrees. Cool syrup and stir in rum

Chestnut Butter Cream:

1 pound sweet butter

1 cup superfine sugar

2 tbsp. rum

1 can (15 1/2 ounces) unsweetened chestnut puree

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add chestnut puree, sugar, and rum and beat until mixture is smooth

P.S. If chestnuts are not easily found, you may add chocolate, coffee or another ingredient to the butter cream.

Holiday MashUp 2022: Karen Ashbrook & Paul Oorts, featuring Jim North

Georgetown Lombardi Arts & Humanities Presents: Holiday MashUp 2022

Relax and listen to the holiday cheer spread by artist-in-residence and hammered dolcimer player Karen Ashbrook, guitarist Paul Oorts, and vocalist Jim North!

Free Online Winter Classes

To sign up, click on the title of the classes below, or visit The Georgetown Arts & Humanities Program on Eventbrite.


Monday Morning Gentle Yoga

with Katie Harris Banks

Start time: 10:30 am EST

Start date: January 9, 2023

Creativity Jumpstart:

De-Stress with Art

with Jennifer Wilkin Penick

Start time: 2:00 pm EST

Start date: January 9, 2023

Accessible Yoga from a Wheelchair or Chair

with Kaykay Kindy

Start time: 6:00 pm EST

Start date: January 9, 2023


Knitting with Claire

with Claire Wagner, "The Knitter"

Start time: 10:00 am EST

Start date: January 11, 2023


Expressive Writing

with Michelle Berberet

Start time: 12:00 pm EST

Start date: January 17, 2023

Movement for MS

with Deborah Riley +

Alison Waldman

Start time: 1:00 pm EST

Start date: January 10, 2023

Register by email:

[email protected]


In the Studio with Lauren and Carrie - Music, Art, & Movement

with Lauren Kingsland +

Carrie Monger

Start time: 12:00 pm EST

Start Date: January 12, 2023

Color Cafe

with Lauren Brennan +

Carrie Monger

Start time: 1:00 pm EST

Start date: January 5, 2023

Extra Gentle Mat & Chair Yoga

with Alison Waldman

Start time: 6:00 pm EST

Start date: January 12, 2023

The Georgetown Lombardi Arts & Humanities Program (AHP) promotes a holistic approach to healthcare for patients, caregivers, physicians, nurses, staff members, and students through the use of music, dance, expressive writing, and visual arts. These therapeutic modalities are normally provided throughout the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and online through Eventbrite courses. The AHP is a program of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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