I always thought roll cakes were wayyy too terrifying to make. I wanted desperately to present a pumpkin roll with a perfect spiral of cream cheese filling, or a handsome chocolate frosted Buche de Noel, but I could already envision the cake crumbling to a sad mess in my hands.
Once I spread the cake with a thin layer of lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream, it was the moment of truth. Yes, I was totally scared. And yes, as soon as I started rolling, a giant crack formed right through the center of the cake. And another. And another.
But you know what? Somehow, I was completely okay with its imperfections. You don’t see the cracks at all, since they’re folded and rolled up, covered in whipped cream and chocolate, and sprinkled with crushed candy canes.
And it’s going to turn out SO beautiful once you cut it.
This cake is absolutely perfect for the holidays. It’s festive and looks incredibly impressive. The cake is so light and fluffy, it tastes like melt-in-your-mouth chocolate mousse.
If yon’t like peppermint, you can flavor your whipped cream filling with only pure vanilla, with almond extract, or with orange zest and extract. Some cocoa powder would make a lovely double chocolate roll. Or how about mixing in crushed Oreos? Cinnamon?
Chocolate Peppermint Roll with Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache
Adapted from Joy the Baker - Makes 1 roll cake, serves about 8
For the Cake:
4 oz semi sweet chocolate
6 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the Whipped Filling:
1 1/4 cup heavy cream, cold
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (I used 1 heaping tablespoon)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-2 teaspoons peppermint extract (start with one teaspoon and add more according to your taste)
For the Ganache:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate (I used 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 4 oz. unsweetened Baker’s chocolate)
2/3 cups heavy cream
To make the Cake:
Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 F.
Line a 17×12-inch baking sheet with parchment paper, then grease and flour the paper. The parchment should overhang the sides of the pan just an inch or so. Set the baking sheet aside.
It’s easiest to separate egg yolks from egg whites when they are cold. After separating, allow them about 20 minutes to come to room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together egg yolks and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Beat the eggs until they are thick and pale in color. This usually takes upwards of 7 minutes at medium-high speed. The egg yolk mixture will pour in a thick ribbon from the beater when they’ve been beaten enough.
While the eggs are beating, melt the semisweet chocolate. I melt them in the microwave with 30 second intervals, stirring in between. Stir the chocolate until it is melted completely. Allow the chocolate to cool for just a few minutes.
Add the thickened egg yolk mixture to the chocolate mixture. Gently stir together until just incorporated. Stir in the vanilla. The addition of the chocolate to the egg yolk mixture will thicken the egg yolks further, and make the chocolate appear fluffy in texture. Set aside.
Clean the bowl and whisk attachment of your electric mixer well. Dry them to insure that no remaining egg yolk is present. Add the egg whites to the bowl. Using the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until frothy, about 2 minutes. Add the pinch of salt, and gradually add the cream of tartar. Increase speed to medium-high until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar while beating. Allow the mixture to beat until stiff peaks form.
Place the chocolate egg yolk mixture in a large bowl. Place about 1/3 of the stiff egg whites in the bowl and gently fold. Use a light hand to sweep the egg whites through the center of the chocolate mixture, up and under. Fold until just incorporated, but large egg white and chocolate streaks remain. Add another 1/3 of the egg whites and continue to fold. The batter will be glossy and fluffy. This fluff will create the desired sponge texture of the cake, so we want to deflate the egg whites as little as possible. Fold in the remaining egg whites and gently fold together until just about entirely incorporated.
Immediately transfer the batter to the prepared baking sheet. Carefully smooth into the pan creating an even thickness. Don’t fuss with the batter too much. The more fussing, the more the cake deflates. If the cake batter doesn’t easily each end to end, then just try to make a even rectangle. Don’t sweat it.
Bake cake for 15 to 17 minutes. When done the cake will have a dry top and a spongy, bounce back feel.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
While the cake cools, prepare the whipped cream and ganache.
To make the Whipped Filling:
Place heavy cream in the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the granulated sugar, vanilla and peppermint extract. Beat to soft, whipped cream peaks. The whipped cream should hold its shape but still be velvety and spreadable. Allow to rest in the refrigerator.
To make the Ganache:
Place chocolate pieces in a medium bowl. Heat cream to almost boiling. The milk will be steaming hot. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces. Allow to stand for one minute before whisking into a smooth and glossy chocolate sauce. Allow to rest in the fridge until thickened slightly, about 30 minutes.
To Assemble the Cake:
Allow cake to cool completely. Remove the cake, using the overhang of parchment paper, from the baking sheet. Spread with a thin layer of whipped cream filling. This doesn’t need to be a thick later. When the cake is rolled, there will be ample filling.
Place the cake so that the 12-inch side is facing you. We’re going to roll from the short side.
Use the parchment paper to help you. Don’t worry about creating a tight roll. This isn’t like rolling cinnamon rolls. Gently roll the cake, removing the parchment paper as the cake is rolled. The first roll or two will most likely crack and it’s being folded. Don’t let this stop you. This cracking is totally normal. As the cake roll gets larger, the cake will crack less.
Gently lift cake and place on a clean serving board or plate. Allow the cake to rest for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
Remove cake from the fridge and drizzle with chocolate ganache. Allow to chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Just before serving, garnish the cake with crushed candy canes. Garnishing before will make the candy cane pieces ooze just a bit.
Cake will last, wrapped in the fridge, for up to 3 days.