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For a Holiday Showstopper: Make a Roulade

An easy-to-handle chocolate sponge cake and a step-by-step guide guarantees impressive—and delicious—results

Fine Cooking Issue 61
Photo: Scott Phillips
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When it’s time to whip up that stunner of a holiday dessert, I want something that’s traditional but with a twist. It should elicit “oohs” and “aahs” but not require an epic amount of preparation. With a chocolate roulade, I get everything I want.  

A bit like a bûche de Noël or yule log (but more simple and elegant), my roulade starts with a delicious chocolate sponge cake that’s also surprisingly easy to handle because it’s pliable enough to be rolled up, yet strong enough not to fall apart when you do that. Inside is a buttery filling. Depending on the guest list and on my mood, the filling flavor could be raspberry, mocha, orange-vanilla, or peppermint—all of which taste great with chocolate. I cover the roll with a gorgeous chocolate glaze that handles easily and gives a magnificent sheen. To serve my roulade, I set off each swirled slice with a dollop of whipped cream and a garnish that complements the filling. This impressive dessert takes a little time to put together, but with these easy-to-follow instructions, I know you’ll be thrilled with the results.

Get ready

Before you start the recipe, mMake your shopping list and gather your tools.

Shopping or pantry list
8 oz. unsalted butter
1 pint heavy cream
1 dozen large eggs
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 oz. Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I like Valrhona; Hershey’s Dutched cocoa is fine, too)
1 packet unflavored powdered gelatin
table salt
flour for dusting the pan
pure vanilla extract
ingredients to flavor the filling and for the garnishes (seebelow)

Tool list
measuring cups and spoons
kitchen scale (optional)
18×13-inch rimmed baking sheet (a standard half sheet pan)
dishtowel at least as big as the baking sheet
electric mixer
rubber spatula
medium sieve
wide pot or straight-sided skillet
instant-read thermometer
wire rack
2 wide offset metal spatulas
large saucepan
chef’s knife


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