Chocolate roll cake with mocha cream filling

Instead of kicking off the holiday season with cookies (though there will surely be plenty of those), I decided to make a roll cake, which I associate with the holidays since it makes me think of yule logs.  
There's no fancy woodland decorations here, I'm afraid, but let's just take a dusting of powdered sugar and a handful of imagination, and fit this cake into the holiday theme. Everything seems to take on a special holiday glow this time of year and I just love it!

Now, you might call this a roulade, a jelly roll, or a swiss roll, but I'll just call it a roll cake for simplicity sake.  I only very recently ventured into making a roll cake with the matcha-red bean version but I feel like this is my first "official" roll cake endeavor and I think I just may have overcome fears of making this type of cake.  
Since my desserts have about a 90% likelihood of involving chocolate, it's not surprising I made a chocolate roll cake.   I started with a recipe that caught my eye in a recent issue of Cooking Light.  I thought I'd make a smaller version so I took the base chocolate sponge cake recipe and divided it in half.  I baked my cake in a quarter - as opposed to half - sheet pan so the roll is 9-inches long.  I like making small batches, especially when I'm first road-testing a recipe, but I have to say my husband suggested I make a regular size of this next time!  Instead of following through with the suggested lemon filling, I thought, more chocolate...because that's just how we roll!  In the end, I decided to make a mocha whipped cream filling to give the cake a little bit of dimension beyond pure chocolate.    
I had no issues making this cake, even adjusting it for a smaller version.  It takes a couple of steps to separately whip the egg yolks and whites, and to ultimately incorporate everything together, but with a gentle hand (and a clean dish towel), there were no mishaps like cracks in the cake to worry about.  I wound up with a light, moist, spongy chocolate cake, and a creamy, soft chocolate-coffee cream filling; it was just as it should be.  In other words, I had a great dessert to share with my family.

I have to agree with my husband...I should have made a bigger roll!  Next time, it'll be a regular size roll for sure.



A roll cake is essentially a sponge cake baked in a sheet pan, then rolled around a filling.  In this recipe (and many others for roll cakes), you beat the egg yolks and whites separately.  It makes for a light, airy cake, and I also read that this process helps make the cake more elastic, so less prone to cracking when you roll it up.
I divided the chocolate cake recipe in half.  The original recipe called for 5 eggs and I made things simple by using 2 extra-large eggs.  I typically always have both large and extra-large eggs in the fridge.

You end up with a foamy batter (as you know, be sure to fold gently and spread with a light hand so you deflate the batter as little as possible).  I baked the cake in a quarter-sheet pan, measuring 9x13 inches.  
When the cake is done, it will spring back slightly when gently pressed.  Turn it out onto a clean dish towel dusted with confectioners' sugar and peel away the wax or parchment paper you lined the pan with.
Then, it's time to roll it up while the cake is still warm.  Allow it to cool completely this way, seam side down, on a wire rack. 
While this cake was cooling, I went out with my family and when we got back, I whipped up the mocha cream filling and unrolled the cake.  This was the part I was nervous about but aside from some sticking, there were no cracks or major issues.
The filling is made with half a cup of heavy cream, flavored with cocoa powder and espresso powder, along with a little sugar and vanilla extract.  I spread this around my cake roll, leaving a little border along the edges.  
One last careful roll back up and I was done!  Roll cake success!  
The cake was very moist and light.  There's chocolate flavor with a pop of coffee with the mocha filling.  It's one of those desserts that goes down easy and disappears quickly.
The fellas were big fans and enjoyed every morsel, which makes me feel very merry!  
This cake was one of the desserts I made over the long Thanksgiving weekend.  We look forward to that weekend so much every year because we're all home and we get to not only celebrate Thanksgiving but usher in the holiday season. There's no need to rush, I get to cook and bake to my heart's content, and we all get to sit down and share it all together (and it seems like we're sitting down to a meal all the time).  This really is the best time of year! 

Here's to a very happy holiday season!  Did you realize there's only 3 weekends before Christmas?  Time to get baking and celebrating!!

Recipe:

Chocolate Roll Cake with Mocha Cream Filling
Chocolate cake adapted from Cooking Light; filling adapted from Joy of Baking

- Makes one 9 x 13 log or rolled cake (about 5 servings) -

For cake:
1 1/2 ounce (about 6 tablespoons) cake flour
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 extra-large eggs, separated
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon powdered sugar (plus more for finishing)

For filling:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder

Make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat a quarter sheet pan (9x13 inches) with baking spray.  Line the bottom with wax paper and lightly spray paper with baking spray.  

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  Place egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer (or you could use a handheld mixer).  Beat, with the paddle attachment, on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  In a separate mixer bowl, add egg whites and cream of tartar.  Beat, with the whisk attachment, on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to high and continue until soft peaks form.  Slowly add 1/4 cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat).  

Stir one-fourth of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture.  Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.  Sift the dry ingredients over the top of the egg mixture and gently fold together (trying to deflate the batter as little as possible).  Spread batter lightly and evenly onto the prepared pan with a small offset spatula.  Bake until cake springs back when lightly touched in the center, about 8-9 minutes.  

Loosen cake from the sides of the pan.  Turn out onto a clean dish towel that's been dusted with a tablespoon of powdered sugar.  Carefully peel off the wax paper.  Let cake cool for 1 minute, then starting from the short end, roll up the cake and towel together.  Place, seam side down, on a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Make filling: Place vanilla extract, sugar, cocoa powder, and espresso powder into the bowl of a stand mixer (a cold bowl and whisk speeds up the process).  Add about a tablespoon or so of the cream and stir to form a thick paste (dissolving the cocoa and espresso powder in the process).  Add remaining cream and whip until stiff peaks form.

Assemble:  Unroll the cake carefully, removing the towel and setting the cake onto a piece of wax paper.  Spread the mocha cream filling over the cake, leaving about a half inch or so border along the edges.  Carefully reroll the cake into a log (use the wax paper to help you and remove the paper as you go along).  Place the rolled cake, seam side down, onto a platter.  Cover and chill for at least an hour.  Before serving, dust with powdered sugar.





42 comments:

  1. That's a perfectly baked chocolate roulade, Monica. And the serving plates are very festive!

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  2. This cake is perfection! Everything about it is amazing. The photos, the cute little picks, the gorgeous fluffy filling and the light sponge cake - you nailed it! I want one - and keep the chocolate coming :)

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    1. I don't have to worry about perfection when I have lovely blogger pals like you to encourage and cheer me on, Tricia. Thank you!! : )

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  3. This roll cake is stunning and that fluffy chocolate frosting inside looks to die for- maybe I'll try an conquer my roll cake fear now!

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    1. I certainly had a roll cake fear but it's totally do-able! I'm sure you would have no problems, Medha. : )

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  4. I still have yet to try making a roll cake! I love the sound of that mocha filling! Right up my alley!

    Oh gosh I know, I feel like the holiday season just got here and yet it's blowing by!

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    1. It seems like a lot of effort with that towel and everything, right? It's not so bad and it's not super rich so lots of people seem to enjoy it. Speaking of enjoy...savor this month, it'll fly by.

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  5. Oh I wish i knew how to make so nice looking roll cakes! Looks very yummy!

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  6. You have totally inspired me with this, Monica! Those yule logs with all the trimmings are so pretty but surely WAY too time consuming, but this is just as beautiful and you make me think I can muddle my way through with those step by step photos.

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    1. You are so sweet, Jess. Thank you so much...but I can't picture you being daunted by a roll cake. You could make one easy, even with the 2 adorable twins around, I just know it!!

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  7. oh my! That looks so perfect and YUMMY!

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  8. Hi Monica, oh this is gorgeous, the perfect holiday dessert. I can see why your husband would like you to make a bigger roll next time.

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    1. Definitely a large/regular one next time. It goes down way too easy! Thanks and enjoy the holiday season, Cheri.

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  9. Your roll cake looks so so pretty, Monica! I love the chocolate and mocha combo! Sounds wonderful and so perfect for the holiday season :)

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    1. Thanks, Kelly. It feels good to try a true roll cake recipe and know it's do-able and not so scary. : )

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  10. This is the worst thing to look at when you are hungry. Great presentation, and photography.

    http://www.pixics.com/blog

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    1. Appreciate it - thanks for the kind words!

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  11. This such an elegant roll Monica...and perfect to share during this holiday season...thanks for sharing the recipe.
    Have a great week :)

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    1. I have always wanted to make a roll cake for dessert around the holidays...finally! : )

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  12. I always get so nervous rolling up Swiss rolls but they're so good when they work out. The texture of this looks just right! :D

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    1. I'm glad other people get a little nervous about it, too! : ) I'm glad you think it turned out well. Yay!

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  13. This is awesome!! I love getting different dessert ideas for Christmas besides just cookies!

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    1. Cookies rule at Christmas but a cake here and there, and a little variety, is so fun! Happy Holidays!

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  14. This cake roll looks spectacular! A lovely holiday treat idea.

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  15. It is perfectly baked! It looks so soft and moist, plus chocolate and mocha are an amazing combination.

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    1. The process of folding in the separately whipped whites really makes for a moist cake. Thanks, Mary!

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  16. This chocolate roll looks super stunning and divine, Monica. Love the idea of mocha cream filling. I wish I could have a BIG slice of this roll right away! :)

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    1. Thanks so much. I'm glad this turned out to be an easy recipe to follow. : )

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  17. Wow! This cake is stunning! I love roll cakes...especially during the holiday season!

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    1. Thank you! There is definitely something about a roll cake for the holidays. : )

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  18. That mocha filling sounds very delicious! I tried making a swiss roll once, but I had a little issue with the rolling. Yours is flawless! I am going to try with your recipe next time! By the way, the red plates are so gorgeous. Where did you get them?

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    1. The filling is so easy and tasty...the magic of heavy cream? ; ) Thanks so much...and the plates...they're made by Rosanna but I actually bought it a couple of years ago from Barnes & Nobles; it was made specially for B&N. I have a little rectangular platter that matches and I kick myself for only buying 2 of these plates. It's getting harder and harder to find cute plates and such.

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  19. Love the mocha cream filling in this cake roll! Perfect for holiday parties!

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    1. Thanks...I'm going to make it for my family again one day soon.

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  20. Yum! Cake rolls are so much fun to make and eat; I love the idea of mocha filling to add a bit of pizzaz to the chocolate theme (:

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    1. I like to stick with classic flavors I know my family and I will like, for the most part. This little roll was gone in a jiffy. : )

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  21. Just beautiful! I am impressed by how smooth you get your the cake.Those look yummy! I think I can successfully do those.

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