chocolate rum swiss roll


This cake was good.  Really it was.  But I have to be honest and tell you that I’m posting it less because it was a hands down heavenly dessert (I wouldn’t quite go that far) and more because of the fact that I am proud of myself for putting this together and not cracking the cake.  I was feeling ambitious the other day when I made this and figured that, well, why not.  And I’m so happy I did.

My historical record does not necessarily lend itself to making things that have to be rolled and cooled and rolled again delicately.  Y’all, I once spilled hot fudge down the front of my pants simply by stirring it.  But this, I did.  And it really wasn’t as tricky as I had expected.  It was by no means perfect: I didn’t roll the center tight enough and one part of the cake, while still roll-able, puffed up unevenly while it baked.  But I am still proud and this was still a nice dessert.

The cake here is a little different.  It’s largely made of eggs and egg yolks warmed with sugar and then has just the slightest bit of flour folded into it.  It makes for a delicate and sponge like cake that won’t crack as easily as you might expect, especially if you roll it early.  And it is as thin as it can be, which makes for easy rolling as well.  And I know that my instruction down at the bottom look intimidating, but I promise it’s not as hard as you think (I’m just trying to be helpful in my explanations).

The flavors of this cake are pretty basic.  In fact, I added some vanilla to the batter because  I just don’t understand how you can bake chocolate without vanilla.  The rum syrup isn’t as complicated to make as you might think, and honestly not as strong either (I’d recommend spreading more on the cake than you think you need).  And the whipped cream is just your basic whipped cream with sugar.  But it all comes together in a delicious and whimsical way.  And even though this cake looks fancy, everyone at the dinner table commented on light it was.

It is possible I might have ruined a kitchen towel in all of this, what with the cocoa powder dusting and the rolling the cake in the towel, and the the whipped cream that seemed to spill out of the edges when I rolled it in the towel for the second time.  But I think I can sacrifice a kitchen towel for the cause of this cake.

Edit 9/11/12: the towel is not ruined.  But it might permanently smell like cocoa powder.

Chocolate Rum Swiss Roll
adapted from Martha Stewart

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 mintes
Bake Time: 7 minutes
Wait Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Serves about 10

For the cake:
Vegetable oil cooking spray
1/4 cup sifted unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder (plus more for dusting)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the syrup:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light rum

For the filling:
1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and place the oven rack in the bottom half of the oven.  Prepare a 12 1/2 x 17 1/2 inch rimmed baking sheet by coating it with cooking spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.  Then coat the parchment paper with cooking spray and dust it with cocoa powder, shaking out the excess cocoa powder.
2. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, flour, and salt.  Set aside.
3. In a medium-sized heat-proof bowl, combine the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar.  Set the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water (but don’t let the bottom touch the water).  Let the mixture warm, whisking frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.  Then take the bowl off the water and use an electric mixer to beat the mixture on medium-high speed for 2 minutes.  Then raise the speed to high and beat for 4 more minutes, until the mixture is pale and thick.
4. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture.  When they are almost fully incorporated, add the melted butter and vanilla and fold to combine.
5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread it out evenly.  Bake for 6-7 minutes, until the cake is set and springy to the touch.
6. While the cake is baking, lay a clean kitchen towel out flat on a counter top.  Gently dust the kitchen towel with cocoa powder.
7. Remove cake from oven and let cool for about 1 minute in the baking sheet.  Then run a knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan and invert the cake onto the towel so that the cake lies flat on it.  Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake.
8. While the cake is still warm, gently roll it into a log (from short side to short side).  Use the towel to help you lift the cake, and as you roll it leave the towel in the cake (almost as if it is the filling for now).  Let the cake cool completely in this rolled form, about 1 hour.
9. While the cake is cooling, make the rum syrup.  In a small saucepan combine the water and sugar.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often until the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and whisk in the rum.  Set aside to cool.
10. You can also make the filling while the cake is cooling.  In a medium-sized bowl, whip the cream with an electric mixer.  Add the sugar once soft peaks form, and then continue to beat until medium-stiff peaks form.  Set the whipped cream aside in the refrigerator until ready to be used.
11. Once the cake has cooled, unroll it.  Brush the entire surface generously with the rum syrup.  Then spread the whipped cream onto it, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the edges.
12. Roll the cake back up, this time without the towel.  But use the towel to help you lift the cake as you go (lifting the towel so that the cake lifts instead of touching the cake directly), as this will help prevent it from cracking.  Wrap the towel around the cake (securing it with clothespins if necessary) to help the cake keep its form.
13. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes (while it will keep until the next day, it’s best if served within several hours).  If you’d like to, dust the top with cocoa powder before slicing to serve.

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