Black Forest “Arctic Roll”


In a moment of retro-inspiration I decided to do a twist on an Arctic Roll ie) sponge cake encasing ice cream. The commercial ones have thin, dry sponge and cheap, synthetic ice cream with a yellow tinge that is often so bright it would certainly prove useful finding one’s way around in a blackout!

I had made up a large batch of chocolate and cherry ice cream a week or so ago (with a more-than-generous splash of kirsch) and I made a chocolate whisked sponge, liberally dousing this with kirsch, too, and made up individual portions using metal rings to hold them in shape while I packed the ice cream inside. Tinned whole cherries also work well here: the juice can be used to make the syrup and the cherries are for the ice cream.

I served these Arctic Rolls with cherries that had been lightly cooked in sugar syrup and macerated in kirsch – actually, those macerated cherries alone would make for a nice dessert!

A kirsch-kitsch dessert, this is certainly more for adults, but it slips down very easily. Just remember to remove the Arctic Rolls from the freezer about half an hour to an hour before serving to allow the ice cream to soften a little.

The sponge handles very easily when it comes to lining the baking rings, partly because it is a whisked swiss roll sponge but also because it is moist from the kirsch sugar syrup. However, if the sponge breaks when rolling it into the rings that is not a problem at all as it patches up very well: I have even used the off-cuts to make extra Arctic Roll servings and they look just as good!

You can make up the sponge moulds ahead of time and freeze then, just adding the softened ice cream to it.

The ice cream below gives much more than is needed for this number of Arctic Rolls.

Black Forest Arctic Roll: makes 8 individual portions

Black Forest Arctic Roll

Black cherry and chocolate ice cream:

  • 500g vanilla custard, cooled (or use a good commercial custard)
  • 150g cherries (any variety), pitted, roughly chopped macerated in kirsch or rum overnight. Or use dried sour cherries.
  • 150ml good quality dark chocolate, melted


  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 35g self-raising flour
  • 15g cocoa powder

To finish:

  • 200ml water (or use the juice from a tin of cherries)
  • 100g vanilla-flavoured sugar (or use caster sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons or so of kirsch or rum

You will need a swiss roll tin about 30cm by 25cm, lined with greaseproof, and 8 baking rings (about 7cm diameter and 3cm deep). (1) Make the ice cream: put the custard and the melted chocolate into an ice cream maker and churn until thicker and partly frozen. Add the cherries and any of their boozy liquid and churn until thick: you want a soft-whip consistency. Put into a plastic container and freeze until needed. If making the ice cream far in advance, remove from the freezer and put in the fridge until it is softer and easier to scoop out. (2) Preheat the oven to 180C (fan) and line the baking rings with greaseproof paper, as in the picture: this gives a smooth finish to the outer wall of the sponge and makes the finished desserts much easier to turn out.

baking rings lined with greaseproof
baking rings lined with greaseproof

(3) Whisk the eggs and sugar until voluminous and thick – the whisk should leave a trail when you lift it out of the mixture. Sift the flour and cocoa powder over the egg mixture and fold in lightly until there are no traces of the flour and cocoa. (4) Pour the mixture into the tin and flatten out: this will be thinner than making a normal swiss roll but that is quite right here as you don’t want a very thick sponge wall for the ice cream! Bake for about 8 minutes or so, until well risen and feeling springy. Leave to cool in the tin. (5) Put the water and the sugar in a small pan and bring to the boil. Boil until reduced by about half and slightly syrupy. Add a generous splash of kirsch. (6) Turn out sponge onto a sheet of greaseproof. Remove the greaseproof that the cake was baked in. Brush the cake liberally with the syrup: you want the sponge to absorb a lot of the syrup and go nicely moist. Trim the edges.

(7) Cut strips sponge into strips with length that is the circumference of the rings and with width being the height of the tins. Lift these into the tins, and push them gently against the interior of the ring. Depending on the thickness of the sponge, you might need to trim away a little of the strips. Don’t worry if the sponge breaks – just patch it up and all will be fine! Pop the rings of sponge on a flat tray and put them into the freezer until you want to fill them.

(8) Spoon the softened ice cream into the centre of each ring, packing it in well. Return to the freezer on greaseproof (for ease of removal) until ready to serve but remove from the freezer and pop them in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so until the ice cream has softened slightly. Note: You can make one longer roll and slice into portions by placing the slightly softened ice cream over the cooled, soaked sponge: the ice cream should be able to be shaped into a rough cylinder but it doesn’t need to be perfect as it will shape when you roll it up. Roll up the sponge over the ice cream, to form a cylindrical roll of sponge and ice cream, with just a little overlap. Place the overlap underneath and free until ready to serve.


Author: Philip

Very much into baking and general cooking.

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