This chocolate roll cake features an airy sponge cake drizzled in ganache and filled with creamy chocolate mousse! Perfect dessert for the holidays or special occasions.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
This chocolate roll cake is the perfect duo of light and decadent.
The cake is a chocolate sponge made of whipped egg whites and cake flour. It’s moist, pillowy soft, and easy to roll.
I filled it with a silky smooth chocolate mousse, then topped it with a rich ganache! Chocolate lovers rejoice!
- A light texture and not overly sweet
- Beautiful, show-stopping look
- Easy-to-master cake roll recipe
My chocolate swiss roll is a million times better than the ho ho’s you grew up on! While I highly recommend the chocolate mousse filling, you can also fill it with jam, buttercream, or homemade whipped cream.
Key Ingredient Notes:
Chocolate Sponge Cake:
- Cocoa powder – Be sure to use Dutch-processed cocoa powder for the sponge cake. It’s less acidic than natural cocoa and therefore reacts differently with the leavening agents. It’s also smoother with an intense, deep chocolate flavor.
- Coffee enhances the flavor of the chocolate.
- Egg yolks – Both beaten yolks and whites give this sponge its light texture and rollability.
- Egg whites – It’s crucial no fat is introduced to the egg whites before or during the whipping process. This means you don’t want to accidentally drip some yolk into the whites or you will need to start over.
- Cake flour – Cake flour has less protein than all-purpose flour which produces an ultra-light texture in cakes.
- Leavening agents – Make sure your baking powder and baking soda aren’t old. If they’ve been sitting around too long, they can lose potency.
How to make this recipe:
A swiss roll cake has more steps than your average layer cake. Here’s step-by-step instructions to guide you through it.
1. Make the chocolate mousse filling:
For step by step directions complete with photos and tips, check out my chocolate mousse filling tutorial.
2. Make the chocolate cake:
- Sift dry ingredients – In a small bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt to remove any lumps.
- Whip egg whites – In a large mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add 1/4 cup of sugar, one tablespoon at a time, while they whip. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Whip the yolks – In a separate bowl with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks, the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, vegetable oil, and coffee until tripled in size. It will lighten in color too.
- Combine the yolks & whites – Mix half of the whipped whites into the egg yolk mixture. Then combine it with the remaining egg whites. Carefully fold it in so you don’t deflate the batter.
- Add dry ingredients – Carefully fold the sifted flour mixture into the batter until the flour is incorporated.
- Bake the cake – Pour the cake batter into the baking sheet with parchment paper and use a spatula or bench scraper to spread it evenly. The cake won’t take long since it’s thin and light.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t forget about it! Sponge cake will taste dry if overbaked.
- Remove cake from the pan – Let the cake cool on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes, then run a butter knife along the edges. Use a fine-mesh sieve to dust cocoa powder on top of the cake, then top with a piece of parchment paper. Carefully flip the cake onto a clean surface.
To make it easier to flip, place a large cutting board on top of the sheet pan before you do it. It’ll prevent the cake from falling or tearing.
3. Roll the cake:
- Roll the cake – Spread the chocolate mousse over the cooled cake layer. Don’t do this while the cake is still warm or it will melt the mousse! Roll the cake as tightly as you can without breaking it, beginning on one of the short ends.
- Chill the swiss roll – Carefully wrap the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour to set.
4. Make the chocolate ganache:
- Heat the heavy cream – Do so in the microwave until hot, about 1 minute. Watch it to make sure it doesn’t boil over, or else you will have a mess.
- Make ganache – Pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips and let it sit for 2 minutes to melt it completely. Stir until silky smooth. If any chunks are left, microwave in 15-second increments until melted. Let it cool a minute.
- Pour ganache on top – Carefully unwrap the chocolate cake roll and cut both ends off. Place it on a wire rack placed over top of a sheet pan. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake and let the excess drip off.
- Decorate – Top with shaved chocolate, chocolate curls, or sprinkles.
Tips for Success:
- It’s easier to separate cold eggs since the yolks are less likely to break. But room temperature egg whites whip better and get more volume, so it’s ideal to do it at least 30 minutes in advance.
- Fat prevents egg whites from whipping properly. Be careful not to get yolks in the whites when you separate them. Avoid plastic bowls, since they retain grease.
- Sift the flour so you don’t overmix the batter. Cake flour clumps easily.
- Don’t overbake the cake! Sponge cake doesn’t take long to bake and it will dry out if you do.
- The heavy cream must be cold! Warm cream won’t whip properly, no matter how long you try.
- Let the cake cool before you top with mousse. The base of the mousse is whipped cream, which promptly melts if it gets warm.
- Store the chocolate jelly roll cake wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Chocolate mousse must be refrigerated since it’s made of whipped cream.
- Chocolate roll cakes are freezer-friendly! Place the cake in the freezer until the ganache solidifies, then wrap in plastic wrap and tin foil. Freeze for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
A roll cake is also referred to as a swiss roll, a jelly roll, cream roll, a roulade, or a swiss log. It’s a sponge cake that’s rolled into a log with a sweet filling such as whipped cream, chocolate mousse, or jelly.
The most common culprit is overbaking it! If you overbake the sponge cake, it won’t be as pliable or easy to work with. It also helps to use a cake recipe with vegetable oil instead of butter. Butter solidifies as it cools, making the cake more likely to crack.
More Roll Cake Recipes
- Strawberry Matcha Roll Cake
- Snow White Roll Cake
- How to Make a Roll Cake
- Chocolate Roll Cake with Raspberry Mousse Filling
Death by Chocolate Roll Cake
For chocolate mousse filling:
- ¼ cup (60ml) hot water
- 2 tablespoons (15g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon instant espresso coffee
- ¾ cup (130g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream cold
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
For sponge cake:
- 4 large eggs Note 1
- ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar divided
- 3 tablespoons (50g) vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons strong coffee Note 2
- ½ cup (60g) cake flour Note 3
- 3 tablespoons (30g) Dutch processed cocoa powder Note 4
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For chocolate ganache:
- ½ cup (120ml) heavy cream
- 4 ounce (120g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
To make the chocolate mousse filling:
- In a small bowl, dissolve cocoa powder and instant espresso powder in hot water.
- In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips until they're nice and smooth. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
- Stir the cocoa mixture into the melted chocolate.
- In a mixing bowl with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and the sugar until hard peaks form.
- Add 1/3 of the whipped cream to the chocolate mixture and fold until mostly combined. Then combine the mixture with the remaining whipped cream and mix well until no white streaks remain. Cover and refrigerate while you bake the cake.
To make the cake:
- To make the batter: Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Set aside. (TIP: Cold eggs separate easily. See note 1 for more details.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baker’s half baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, ¼ cup sugar, vegetable oil, and coffee until tripled in size.
- In another mixing bowl with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy.
- Then add remaining ¼ cup of sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to medium high and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
- Spoon half of the whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Mix with a spatula until smooth, and then add the remaining whipped egg whites. Carefully fold the batter until smooth.
- Add the sifted flour mixture into the batter and gently fold until no dry flour is visible.
- To bake: Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet then smooth the surface evenly with a bench scraper.
- Bake the cake for about 10 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool the cake on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes. Run a flat spatula or butter knife along the edges. Using a fine mesh sieve, dust cocoa powder on top of the cake and place a piece of parchment paper on top. Then carefully flip the cake out onto a clean surface. (TIP: I place a large cutting board on top of the sheet pan and flip it over.) Peel off the parchment paper and cool the cake completely.
To roll the cake:
- Spread the chocolate mousse evenly over the cooled cake layer and tightly roll the cake from the short side. Carefully wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour to set.
To make chocolate ganache:
- Heat the heavy cream in the microwave until nice and hot, about 1 minute.
- Pour it over the chocolate chips and let it sit for 2 minutes. Then stir until smooth. If you see any chocolate chunks, microwave the mixture in 15-second increments, stirring well, until the mixture is smooth. Cool it down a bit.
- Carefully unwarp the cake roll, cut the two ends off and place it over a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
- Pour the ganache evenly and let the excess drip off.
- Decorate with shaved chocolate, chocolate curls, or sprinkles.
Tips & Notes:
– Store the chocolate jelly roll cake wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Chocolate mousse must be refrigerated since it’s made of whipped cream.
– Chocolate roll cakes are freezer-friendly! Place the cake in the freezer until the ganache solidifies, then wrap in plastic wrap and tin foil. Freeze for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator.