The tree was inspired by the macaroon trees popular in France at this time of year (high-end Parisian patisseries such as Pierre Hermé and Ladurée are known for them). Unlike those versions, which are usually built around Styrofoam, Praline’s tree is completely edible. Pastry chef Patrick Musel and pastry cook/manager Susan Limb fashion the trunk and branches out of dark chocolate. The standard tree with 27 macaroons is $55 to order in advance. A larger tree is also available.
In addition to its more traditional chestnut-and-chocolate bûche de Noël, Praline is making the log-shaped with offbeat flavor combos (raspberry sorbet and honey nougat; praline and chocolate with crushed almond macaroons). Decorative flourishes—think snowmen, Santas, and mushrooms—adorning the cake are handmade from chocolate, almond paste, and meringue. A bûche de Noël that serves six to eight costs $38, and you have to order in advance.
Other places that do a good job with bûche de Noël (be sure to order in advance) include Patisserie Poupon (1645 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 202-342-3248), Leopold’s Kafe & Konditorei (3318 M St. NW; 202-965-6005), Café du ParcL’Auberge Chez François (1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-942-7000), Cacao (18137 Town Center Dr., Olney; 301-774-5300), and (332 Springvale Rd., Great Falls; 703-759-3800).