I am unashamed to admit my love of chocolate – the very best quality chocolate for my baking, certainly, but a bar of the more synthetic chocolate bar often more than hits the spot. Although I do not always opt for desserts – despite the number of cake and sweet treats I bake – if I am going to have a dessert a chocolatey one more than often fits the bill.
Somewhat kitsch, perhaps, and possibly dismissed by some quarters as a dessert that belongs to a couple of decades or more ago, a chocolate roulade has bags of appeal nowadays.
A chocolate roulade is one of my favourite desserts and it is one I often make for dinner parties or just for casual get-togethers. Sometimes, though, I cut the cooled cake into thin slices to make smaller, individual roulades for serving as part of an Afternoon Tea.
I have made many versions over the years – some with flour, some without, some with melted chocolate in the cake mixture, some using cocoa, and with varying degrees of chocolate wickedness within and on top – but this recipe is very much my take on a chocolate roulade.
I prefer it with chocolate ganache as well as cream in the filling; that squidgy texture as the fork cuts into it combined with the enticing chocolate smell as it nears the mouth are utterly irresistible! And as indulgent as it might be, the roulade does have a lightness to it. Although that sounds as if I am trying to convince myself……and I need no convincing here!
Sometimes I will make a roulade up, slice it up and then freeze the slices between pieces of greaseproof paper so that I can defrost one or two slices some time later – it solves a problem when that “now I do fancy a pudding, what do I have?” moment strikes me.
To ring the changes I sometimes pour a few tablespoons (or more) of amaretto, brandy or rum over the baked sponge before rolling, and I have added chopped stem ginger to the filling – particularly nice in the winter! Sometimes I pipe some cream along the top and lay on a thin slice of tempered chocolate – just for the fun of it, really, but it doesn’t need it.
Some freshly made up raspberry sauce is nice (puree raspberries with some icing sugar, then sieve) but to be honest, a thick slice just as it comes will do!
Recipe for Chocolate Roulade (serves 6-8)
For the cake:
4 large eggs
125g caster sugar
125g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
For the chocolate ganache filling (optional):
120g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids or higher)
100ml double cream
pinch of sea salt
For the cream filling:
200ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaped tablespoon icing sugar
- Make the chocolate ganache, if using: chop chocolate roughly and place in a small bowl. Heat cream in a small pan until just simmering. Pour over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted. Leave in the fridge until set – it should have a fairly soft, spreadable consistency.
- Grease and line a swiss-roll tin – approx. 40cm by 25cm – with greaseproof paper and preheat oven to 170°C (fan).
- In a large bowl whisk eggs and sugar until they become very light in colour and soft peaks form – when you lift the whisk out of the bowl the mixture leaves a trail on the surface (as in picture below).
- Sift the flour and cocoa powder over the mixture and gently fold in until there are no bits of flour/cocoa visible. Pour into the tin and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the cake is well risen and is just pulling away from the edges of the tin.
- Leave cake to cool in tin and then turn out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper that has been dusted with cocoa powder. Remove the paper from the cake and trim the edges.
- For the cream filling, whisk the cream, icing sugar and vanilla together until thick. Gently spread a thin layer of the chocolate ganache over the cake, leaving about 1cm around the edges uncovered. Then spread a layer cream over the ganache.
- With longest side of cake facing you, roll up the cake to form the roulade. It will probably crack but that is absolutely fine, and adds to the appeal. Cut a thin slice of each edge to neaten up further (and to eat as a perk!). Place on a plate and refrigerate until needed. Dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder before serving.