Thursday, July 25, 2013


Chocolate Cream Swiss Roll

Have you ever heard of a recipe and instantly thought... I.MUST. MAKE. THAT!  Well this totally happened to me last week.  In class we learned to make roulades.  These are basically small thin sponge cakes that you layer with a tasty filling, roll up, and frost.  They are so much fun but as we made a vanilla, raspberry one in class I couldn't even concentrate because all I was thinking was... I can make Little Debbie Swiss Rolls now!  

That's right, the lunch box treat from grade school that everyone loved.  I can make them and better yet - I can make a GIANT one.  How much fun would it be to go to a party and have dessert be a giant Swiss Roll?!  I knew I would have to give this a try.  

The cake is a little fussy and takes some extra steps which is never my favorite way to lead into a recipe.  The technique, however, is critical.  These little cakes can crack easy turning your beautiful Swiss Roll into a heap of crumbs and icing is not desirable... for the record it would be a delicious heap of crumbs and icing... but still... not something Little Debbie would be proud of.  After doing some online research it seemed the best way to keep the cake from cracking was to wrap it in a tea towel quickly after it was removed from the oven to give it "memory".  I gave it a shot and it turned out delicious!

The icing took a couple of tries.  I wanted something sweet and fluffy but not overly buttery.  I settled for a variation of Nick's mom's whoopie pie filling and it was perfect.  Finally a little bit of chocolate ganache glaze and the cake was ready to be sent off to work with Nick for a morning meeting treat.  You will notice the pictures with the ganache being poured and while I want to take all the credit for being the multi-talented individual that I am... I have to give the credit to Nick.  I poured the chocolate while he took the pictures.  This required him getting out of bed super early to help and he was kind enough to keep the grumbling to a minimum... though I do believe the spoon of whoopie pie filling helped ;)  Either way it was pretty nice of him to help out!

Chocolate Sponge Cake (or Chocolate Jelly-Roll Cake) Recipe


yields 1 1/2 sheet pan sponge cake
1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1/3 cup cake flour
1/4 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. instant coffee
4 eggs, yolks and whites in separate bowls
1/2 cup sugar

1) Line a half-sheet pan first with cooking spray or vegetable shortening then with parchment paper across the bottom of the pan.  The cake sticks very easy so it is important to make sure the sheet is lined properly or you will end up with a torn cake.

2) Pre-heat the oven to 425 degree.

3) Sift together the dry ingredients (cocoa, flour, salt, baking powder, and coffee) and place in a small bowl to the side.

4) In a mixer with the whisk attachment whip the egg whites until they are at soft peaks.  This is also sometimes referred to as wet peaks.  You will know they are ready when you remove the whisk and the egg whites form a Dairy Queen ice cream cone like curl.  If they fall quickly and don't create the curl keep going... if they stand straight up in the air... I'm sorry... start over :(

5) In a small mixing bowl mix the egg yolks and sugar together until they become pale yellow.  Add the dry ingredients to the egg yolk mixture.  The batter will be stiff - don't worry it should be.

6) Mix in half the egg white mixture until completely incorporated and the batter becomes easier to work with.  Finally fold in the last half of the egg whites.  Don't over-stir the second half.

7) Pour onto the greased and parchment paper lined pan.  Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly so you do not end up with a big cake on one side and a cracker like cake on the other.  Because the egg whites were whipped it is important *not* to bang the pan in order to get the batter to settle.  Simply use a spatula to spread. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the cake is sponge-y to the touch.

8) Remove cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the pan for a few minutes.  Tip the cake over, remove the cake, pull off the parchment paper, and roll up into a tea towel to cool.  This gives the cake form memory and will keep it from cracking after you have filled it with icing and roll it up.  Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes.

9) After the cake has cooled spread the Little Debbie Creme Filling (recipe below) evenly across the entire cake.  Roll the cake up (remove the towel!!) like the pictures above.

10) Place the cake on a wire cooling rack set on top of the half sheet pan.  Pour the chocolate ganache glaze over the top of the cake and allow to cool.  If you are a big chocolate lover thten after the first layer of glaze has cooled go ahead and pour another on top for a thicker layer of icing.

Slice the cake to serve and pretend you are back in the 5th grade with the best lunch box treat there ever was! :)

Little Debbie Creme Filling Recipe

yields 1 batch
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 small (8oz) jar marshmallow creme
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
1 cup powdered sugar

1) Whip together the butter, shortening, creme, vanilla, and salt.  Slowly add the sugar.  If you are in a humid climate you may need to add up to an extra 1/4 cup powdered sugar to get the right texture.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze Recipe

yields 1 batch
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz (about 2/3 cup) dark or milk chocolate roughly chopped (or chocolate chips)

1) Heat the cream over medium heat until it begins to simmer.  Quickly remove from heat and pour in the chocolate.  Stir with a whisk until all chocolate has melted.

I've had a couple of questions about the pan.  I think the best pan to use is a Jelly Roll pan or a half sheet pan.  It is basically a cookie sheet with shallow sides.  I personally use the one below as my go-to pan for baking.  Nick's mom bought it for me as a gift when I was in pastry school and I love it :)


    The Nachi Fire Festival is one of Japan's cultural gems. Listed as an intangible cultural asset the festival has a history of more than 1500 years and is one of the most spectacular festivals of the summer. Held on July 14th each year, the Nachi no Hi Matsuri or Nachi Ogi Matsuri (Fan Festival) is a traditional fire festival involving ritual offerings, music and dance. The festival is held in a remote area of the Yoshino-Kumano National Park on the Kii Peninsula. The shrines where the Nachi Fire Festival takes place are part of the UNESCO World Heritage list, the Kumano Nachi Grand Shrine and the Hiryu shrine, which is located at the base of the massive Nachi waterfall, which with a 133 meter (about 436 feet) drop is the highest waterfall in Japan.

    The festival involves 12 (portable) mikoshi shrines, each decorated with mirrors and gold, and 12 massive ceremonial torches. Carried from Kumano Nachi Grand Shrine down the old Kumano road to the Hiryu shrine, they are then purified by fire and water. The festival is fantastic, you can feel the spray from the waterfall and you can feel the

heat on your face from the torches - it is usually prudent to keep a safe distance as it is isn't unusual for the fire bearers to lose control and singe a few spectators. Known as the Nachi-no-Hi-Matsuri or Nachi-Ogi-Matsuri (Fan Festival), the event begins on the morning of 14 July every year with ritual Shinto offerings, music and dance. In the afternoon the 12 sacred mikoshi, beautifully decorated with gold and mirrors, are carried along with 12 ceremonial torches towards the Hiryu shrine, located near Nachi waterfall.

    White-robe priests carry 12 enormous torches of cypress wood. These purify the path for the unique mikoshi of Nachi. Usually mikoshi (portable shrines) look like palanquins, but these are 10m (30ft) tall vermilion panels decorated with mirrors and fans (this is also known as Ogi Matsuri, the 'Fan Festival'). In the background are the vermilion pillars of the shrine, and the 133m (436ft) waterfall which first attracted Emperor Jimmu to worship here at the dawn of Japanese civilisation.

    Following a sacred ritual in the shrine itself, the mikoshi are carried to the stone steps just under the waterfall, where the torches are lit and the torch-carriers purify them by walking up and down the steps in circles. The purification by fire and smoke is completed by water, in the form of the mist spraying from above. The Kumano mountains have been revered as the site of great mystical power for more than 1000 years. A Buddhist paradise was said to be hidden among the peaks, to be reached in life by the devout worshipper who undertook a pilgrimage to the mountains and prayed at the shrines.