1. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add the nutmeg, egg and extracts; mix thoroughly. Stir in flour. If necessary, refrigerate dough for easier handling.
2. On a lightly floured surface, shape dough into ½-inch diameter rolls; cut each into 3-in-long pieces. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.
3. For frosting, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add 2 C sugar and extracts; mix well. Beat in cream and remaining sugar. Frost cookies. With tines of a small fork, make lines down frosting to simulate bark. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
* Mine was too thick, so I added more half-and half. It was easier to use as a glaze than a frosting. Yield 3 dozen or more.
The word yule meant “infant” in the language of the Chaldeans, who lived in the Middle East. The Germanic tribes of Northern Europe, including the Anglo Saxons, celebrated “Yule-day” or “Child's Day.”
The custom of the Yule log has been noted in France and Italy as far back as the 1200s. It later spread throughout Europe. On Christmas Eve an enormous log would be cut and placed in the hearth. The log would be sprinkled with salt, oil, and mulled wine, and prayers said to protect the house from the Devil and lightning.
In some regions, the daughters of the family lit the log with splinters of the previous year's log. In other regions, the lady of the house had the honor of lighting the log.
As iron stoves replaced giant hearths in the 1800s, Yule logs became decorative, often being used as Christmas centerpieces and decorated with evergreens and candles. Cooks began creating pastry Yule logs, rolled cakes covered in chocolate or coffee and decorated with sugared holly and roses.