Fancy is in the Eye of the Beholder
A few Christmases ago I was searching for a new dessert. I can hear you all now saying “Never try a new recipe for a holiday!” Sometimes you have to live on the edge.
I’m not too edgy, so I figured chocolate would be a good compromise. I wandered through recipe sites waiting for something to catch my eye. The image of a chocolate, creamy swirl caught my eye. This was it!
Now for a nostalgia interlude. Back in May of 1984, a friend and I celebrated passing our senior exams with dinner at a tiny little French restaurant in Georgetown. We’d saved up so we could order what we wanted. I don’t remember the main course, but I was chosen to go to the bakery counter to choose dessert. I gazed at several fancy, sugary confections, but a swirl of chocolate and cream caught my eye. Our first bite confirmed the choice. Oh, my.
So, of course, I clicked on the image of that chocolate, creamy swirl, which took me to the King Arthur Flour website. The recipe was simple enough for an experienced baker. I’ve been baking for about 46 years. I gave it a shot.
I freely admit this version isn’t French restaurant quality. But the cake has a good crumb, whipped cream is always wonderful, and the ganache gives it an air of sophistication.
Until my kids saw it for the first time. They dubbed it the Giant Ho-Ho. It was a hit and I’ve made it every Christmas since. It’s always the Giant Ho-Ho in our house now.
Since time still has no meaning, I made it again this weekend for a combo belated birthday/Mother’s Day celebration. I fancied up the presentation, and no one complained.
You can’t go wrong with chocolate. Enjoy!
King Arthur Flour Company Chocolate Cream Roll
• 4 large eggs, at room temperature
• 3/4 cup (149g) sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2/3 cup (82g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
• 1/3 cup (28g) Double Dutch Dark Cocoa, or other Dutch-process cocoa
• 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional; for richer chocolate flavor
• 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/4 cup (50g) vegetable oil
• 6 tablespoons (85g) buttermilk, at room temperature Filling
• 1 cup (227g) heavy cream
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 tablespoon (14g) sugar
• 2 teaspoons Instant ClearJel
• 1/2 cup (85g) finely ground dark chocolate or 3/4 cup (75g)
Sweet Ground Chocolate (Optional)
• 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (85g) heavy cream
• 1 1/2 tablespoons (29g) corn syrup, light or dark
• 3/4 cup (128g) Guittard Semisweet Wafers, or chopped semisweet chocolate from a block
• Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9 1/2" x 14" jelly roll pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick vegetable oil spray.
To make the cake:
In a large bowl, beat the eggs until thick and pale, then beat in the sugar, salt, and extracts.
• Sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking powder, and fold gently into the egg mixture. Whisk together the oil and buttermilk and fold in, stirring just until combined.
• Spread the batter onto the pan and smooth with a spatula. Bake the cake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the top springs back when pressed gently.
• Remove the cake from the oven, let it cool in the pan for 1 to 2 minutes, then loosen the edges with knife. Turn out onto a tea towel lightly dusted with confectioners' sugar (or onto a piece of parchment), roll up loosely (starting with a short end), and let cool completely.
To make the filling:
Stir together the cream and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Mix together the sugar and ClearJel in a small bowl and sprinkle over the cream. Whip the cream (by hand, stand mixer, or hand mixer) until soft peaks form then fold in the finely ground chocolate or sweet ground chocolate. Refrigerate until needed.
• To make the glaze:
Gently heat all of the ingredients until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes to thicken slightly.
• To finish the cake: Unroll the cake and spread it with the filling. Re-roll, and place seam-side down on rack set over a piece of parchment or wax paper. Trim the ends for a clean appearance.
• Pour the chocolate glaze over the cake, spreading it to cover the ends and sides and allowing the excess to drip onto the paper below. Allow the glaze to set for 10 to 15 minutes, then if desired pour the excess glaze back over the cake.
• Serve the cake immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 24 hours. Freeze for longer storage.
Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she's not creating trouble for her sleuth Giulia Driscoll or inspiring nightmares as her alter-ego Kate Morgan, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).