I was sitting around reading cookbooks the other day when I read a recipe for German Chocolate Roll Cake in Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson. My mind was immediately pulled into a deep hypnotic state by the tantalizing spiral of cake and filling.
When I finally regained consciousness I awoke to find that an idea had taken seed in my head. I should swap the German chocolate filling for creamy, marshmallow filling. (Don't get me wrong, I love German chocolate cake--you can't go wrong with chocolate, coconut, and pecans--but I think the jar of marshmallow fluff in my pantry must have beckoned me in my highly suggestible state.) And just because the cake isn't chocolatey enough already, serve it with warm chocolate ganache.
"Wait!" you might be saying. "Chocolate cake and cream filling rolled together into a spiral of monochromatic wonderfulness and then coated in chocolate. That sounds like a Little Debbie's Swiss Roll." Yes. Only better. Because it's bigger. And it hasn't been sitting on a grocer's shelf for 20 years.
Roll cakes can be intimidating but I promise this recipe is not hard. And it looks so impressive when it is finished.
Just to prove that roll cakes are not as troublesome as their reputations make them out to be, I will make one right now one handed. Yes, that's right ladies and gentlemen. For my next act I will assemble a Swiss Roll-Up Cake with one hand fastened securely to my camera!
I followed Richardson's German Chocolate Cake recipe which is much like a chocolate torte in that it is flourless. Instead, egg whites and sugar are whipped until firm but not stiff (the picture above of the gracefully drooping swan-neck peak is what that looks like) and are gently folded into a melted chocolate and butter mixture (below).
Pour the batter into a well-greased jelly roll pan lined with parchment and bake until springy.
Here's where I began to deviate from Richardson's German Chocolate Roll Cake. One of her other cake rolls is assembled so that the spiral faces up like the rings on a tree stump as opposed to the more traditional fallen-log spiral. To achieve this look the cake and underlying parchment are first cut into strips and then frosted.
The first strip is rolled into a spiral and then placed upright.
The remaining strips are gentled lifted from the pan using the parchment as support and wrapped around the spiral beginning where the last strip left off.
When the cake is sliced, each piece has this beautiful striped pattern.
Don't forget the warm chocolate ganache! Serve each slice with a drizzle.
Okay, maybe a little more than a drizzle.
Chocolate Cream Swiss Roll-Up Cake
serves 10 to 12
For the Chocolate Cake (adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson):
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup brewed coffee
3 tablespoons unsalted, room temperature, cubed
6 eggs, at room temperature, separated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 12- by 16-inch jelly roll pan. Line the pan with parchment paper and then grease the parchment.
In the bowl of a double boiler heat the chocolate, coffee, and butter, stirring occasionally until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Whisk in the egg yolks two at a time until well blended.
In an impeccably clean metal stand-mixer bowl with an impeccably clean whisk attachment beat the egg whites and salt on low speed until frothy. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Reduce speed to medium and slowly add the sugar in a thin stream. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until firm peaks form.
Fold 1/4 of the egg-white mixture into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula to lighten it. Gently fold all of the chocolate mixture to the remaining egg-white mixture until just combined.
Gently pour the batter into the prepared jelly roll pan and spread it out to the edges in an even layer. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes or until the cake springs back when softly pressed. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack in the pan until the cake is completely cool.
For the Creamy Marshmallow Filling (adapted from Martha Stewart's Whoopie Pie Filling):
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup, more or less*, powdered sugar, sifted
1 7-ounce jar of marshmallow fluff
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the marshmallow fluff and vanilla. Beat until smooth and fluffy.
*The original recipe calls for 2 cups of powdered sugar. This is far too sweet for me, especially after the addition of the marshmallow fluff, so I reduce the powdered sugar by half. To be honest, I think it's sweet enough without adding any powdered sugar at all, so adjust the amount of sugar according to your taste.
For the Chocolate Ganache (adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson):
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Wait to make the ganache about 15 minutes before serving the cake. In a small saucepan heat the heavy cream until it begins to simmer. Place the chocolate in a metal bowl. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and cover with a plate to keep in the heat. After a couple of minutes stir the cream into the chocolate until smooth.
Take a serrated knife and cut the cake into four equal width-wise pieces to make one larger cake or six equal width-wise pieces to make two smaller cakes (I made two smaller cakes). Take a pair of clean kitchen scissors and cut the parchment along the same places you scored the cake.
Spread the marshmallow filling over the slices in the pan reserving a couple of tablespoons.
Take one strip and gently roll it into a spiral using the parchment for support, removing it as you roll. Set the roll upright on a large plate. Carefully lift another strip and place it against the last strips edge, wrapping it around to make a wide roll. Don't stress if these first couple of strips of cake crack, they will get covered. Continue with all four strips if you're making one larger cake or three strips per cakes if you are making two smaller ones.
If the slices are uneven, refrigerate for an hour and then cut the top of the cake to even it out. Use the remaining filling to touch up the spiral.
The cake can sit out for a couple of hours. Wrapped and refrigerated, the cake will last for 3 days.
To serve, cut the cake and top each slice with warm chocolate ganache.