It isn’t too often that I find a recipe that’s this incredible. Before last year, I had never made a roll cake. Now, this cake is for sure a family favorite and by far, the cake I make most often. The chocolate cake is delicate and airy and the cream is light and sweet — it’s perfection.
6 ounces semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, chopped
3 tablespoons water (or coffee)
6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you want your filling)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 10-by-15 inch jelly roll pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate with the water or coffee, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool slightly.
Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the sugar gradually and continue to beat until the yolks are pale and ribbony. Gently stir the chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture.
In a clean bowl with clean beaters, whisk the egg whites and salt until they hold stiff peaks. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate-yolk mixture to lighten it. Fold the remaining whites into the cake batter in three additions. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cake layer feels dry, but soft to the touch and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Transfer pan to a cooling rack and cover the top with a light damp towel or two layers of damp paper towels for 10 minutes. Gently remove the towels (don’t worry if they have a little cake stuck to them). Run a knife around the edges of the cake. Sift one tablespoon of cocoa over the top of the cake and cover with a layer of parchment paper that is a little longer than the pan. Place a baking sheet or a large flat tray over the parchment paper and invert the cake and paper onto it. Gently peel back the parchment paper that lined the pan. Sift the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder over the cake and cover the layer with a thin tea or flour-sack towel. Using the parchment paper underneath to help lift and roll the cake, roll the cake from short end to short end with the towel inside. Let cool completely.
Once cool, beat the heavy cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla until it holds stiff peaks. Gently unroll the cake and remove the towel. Spread whipped cream evenly over the cake. Gently reroll the cake — the first couple rolls may crack a bit, but as the rolls get larger, they will crack less. Place on serving platter, seam side down. Serve immediately in 1-inch thick slices or refrigerate until needed.
** Note: The cake is best served immediately, but is still delicious as long as it is refrigerated.