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A chocolate cake roll (or chocolate swiss cake) has a creamy whipped cream filling and a rich chocolate ganache topping. If you’ve every wondered how to roll a chocolate cake with a filling inside this is the post for you!
I’m taking you step by step so you can learn how to make a chocolate cake roll. It’s much easier than it looks, I promise!
It’s been a while since I’ve shared a cake roll recipe! You all know I love cake rolls – there are at least 20 recipes on my site! – and I think it’s because they’re not only impressive looking, but the flavor combinations are endless.
Today it’s all about chocolate: I’m going to show you how to make the rich chocolate sponge cake plus how to roll it up so you can make this beautiful cake. The cake roll has a sweetened whipped cream filling and a rich and decadent chocolate ganache topping.
If you’ve never made a cake roll, don’t be intimidated! I know it looks complicated, but it really isn’t. Yes, there are several steps, but none of them are hard to do and the end result is totally worth it. I can guarantee everyone will be impressed when you serve them slices of this chocolate swiss cake.
How are swiss rolls made?
- Swiss rolls, like this chocolate cake roll, are a classic type of cake. They are usually made with a sponge cake which is baked in a jelly roll pan, which is a wide, flat pan that is about 1” deep.
- Once the cake is baked, it’s rolled up while it’s still hot from the oven and then cooled. Once cooled, the cake is unrolled, the filling is added, and the cake is rolled up again.
- All sorts of fillings are used for cake rolls – jelly, icing, whipped cream, peanut butter, chocolate…basically any sort of filling will work!
I’m not going to lie – the scariest part of making a cake roll is rolling it. Sometimes they crack, but the that’s why it’s always great to have a topping! For this chocolate cake roll, I topped it with chocolate ganache. So, even if you struggle a bit with the rolling part, a little bit of chocolate topping goes a long way to hide the imperfections and no one will notice.
Chocolate Cake Roll Recipe
- This cake roll starts with a basic chocolate sponge cake made with all of the usual cake ingredients including a touch of coffee, which enhances the flavor of the chocolate.
- The filling is just three ingredients: heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.
- The ganache is a simple combination of semi-sweet chocolate, whipping cream, and butter that are melted and mixed together until smooth and glossy.
Tips for Making the Cake
- You will want to line your jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and spray it with nonstick baking spray (the kind with flour in it). This will make it a lot easier to remove the cake from the pan in one piece after it’s baked.
- Once you’ve made the cake batter, pour it into the prepared pan. The batter needs to be spread out in an even layer, so use a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon to spread it into the pan. Don’t forget the corners of the pan – make sure the batter is spread evenly into each corner.
The cake is very thin so it only needs 10 to 15 minutes to bake. The easiest way to know your cake is done is to lightly poke the surface. The cake should bounce back.
Test your cake for doneness by lightly poking the surface – it should bounce back.PRO TIP
Can I use a chocolate cake mix to make a cake roll?
Technically, you can use a cake mix to make a cake roll but it’s tricky. It’s not as simple as mixing up the batter and baking it – often you have to use two cake mixes AND add additional ingredients to the batter to make it work. Check out my Turtle Cake Roll to see how to do it from a cake mix.
How to Roll a Cake Roll
Once the cake is baked you will need to roll it right away. If your cake is too cool when you roll it (or even warm!) it is more likely to crack, so roll it while it’s hot from the oven.
- First, lay a large kitchen towel on your workspace. Top it with an even layer of powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup.
- Once the cake is baked and while it’s still hot turn the pan over to release the cake from the pan onto the towel. Carefully remove the tin foil from the cake.
- Starting from the short end of the cake, fold the edge of the towel over the edge of the cake.
- Roll the cake into the towel and roll it tightly.
At this point, you can cool the cake at room temperature. You want the cake to be completely cool before you unroll it otherwise it might crack, so plan for one to two hours. Or, you can wrap the cake and chill it overnight.
Roll the cake while it’s hot so it doesn’t crack!PRO TIP
Fill and Frost a Cake Roll
Once the cake is fully cooled you can unroll it, spread the filling on the cake, and roll it up again.
- To make the whipped cream filling, just whisk heavy whipping cream while slowly adding powdered sugar. Add the vanilla and then whip the mixture until it holds peaks.
- Spread the filling on the unrolled cake. Leave about a 1” space around the edge of the cake.
- Roll the cake up with the filling. Wipe away any filling the oozes out while you’re rolling it up.
- Wrap the cake and chill it for at least an hour before frosting.
- To frost, place the cake on a baking rack set on a cookie sheet. Pour chocolate ganache over the top of the cake. Chill the cake until the chocolate is set.
- I recommend keeping the cake roll in the refrigerator until just before you’re ready to serve it. If the filling is too warm the cake won’t slice cleanly.
Can you freeze a cake roll?
Not all cake rolls are great for freezing and it really depends on the ingredients. The good news? You can freeze this chocolate cake roll! This makes it a great cake for holiday baking because you can easily make it ahead.
- Once you’ve rolled up the cake with the whipped cream filling wrap it tightly and place it in a freezer-safe container.
- To thaw, transfer the cake to the refrigerator a day before you want to serve it. Once thawed, frost the chocolate roll cake with the ganache, chill to set the ganache, and serve.
How long does a cake roll last?
This chocolate cake roll will keep in the refrigerator for two to three days. Any longer than that and the whipped cream filling will break down and go bad, so plan to enjoy it within a few days. Also, don’t leave the cake out at room temperature for longer than two hours – it will hold it’s shape better if it’s chilled.
This chocolate swiss roll is perfect for any occasion – birthdays, holidays and any other time you want a beautiful dessert to serve. I hope you enjoy it!
My favorite cake roll recipes:
- Peanut Butter Cup Cake Roll
- Birthday Cake Roll
- Coconut Cake Roll
- Christmas Cake Roll
- All of my cake roll recipes!
My favorite desserts with chocolate:
Have you made this recipe?
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Swiss Chocolate Cake Roll
For the Cake:
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons brewed coffee or water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- Powdered sugar to aid in rolling
For the Filling:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Topping:
- 4 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate chopped
- 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
Make the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a jelly roll (10×15”) pan with foil and spray with cooking spray (I like to use the spray with flour).
- Beat eggs at high speed for 3 minutes, until frothy and dark yellow. Beat in sugar, coffee or water, and vanilla extract.
- Whisk together cocoa, salt, baking powder, and flour. Stir into wet ingredients just until blended.
- Spread in prepared pan. Batter will be in a very thin layer and you will need to use a wooden spoon or spatula to spread it to all the corners of the pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done because if you lightly poke the top with your fingertip it will slightly bounce back.
- While the cake is baking, set a clean kitchen towel out on a large work surface. Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar (about 1/4 cup). As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, turn it over on the kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Remove foil carefully.
- Working at the short end, fold the edge of the towel over the cake. Roll tightly, rolling up the cake into the towel. Let cool completely while rolled, at least one hour (or you can wrap it and chill it overnight).
Make the Filling:
- Beat 1 cup of heavy whipping cream in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Slowly add in powdered sugar during beating, one tablespoon at at time. Add extract. Beat until whipped cream forms.
- Once the cake has cooled, unroll it carefully. Spread the whipped cream on the cake, leaving 1” without filling at either end. Re-roll cake, scooping out any filling that spills out as you roll. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour before frosting.
- Make the topping: place chocolate in a bowl. Heat 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan over low heat for a few minutes or in the microwave for 60-90 seconds until it just simmers. Pour over the chocolate chips and let sit for one minute, then whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Whisk in small chunks of the butter until it’s melted.
- Place cake roll on a wire rack set over a cookie sheet. Pour the ganache over the cake evenly. Chill until set.
Swiss Chocolate Cake Roll is the perfect fancy dessert recipe. Cake Rolls are easy to make if you follow these directions! This chocolate roll cake has a whipped cream filling and a chocolate ganache topping. It’s a rich homemade Swiss roll cake everyone will love!