Chocolate roll: a sneak peek at Summer

We can see the finish line for the snow in my neighborhood, and the first fresh hints of green are peeking out on the hillsides. If you’re lucky and from New England, you can travel south to remind yourself that warmer temperatures are not too far away. I was lucky enough to spend 3 days in New Orleans last week, and lo and behold, I seem to have brought the weather back with me. I also do a lot of my traveling to summer climes by researching recipes for the Summer issue of The Baking Sheet.

I’m lucky enough to have a healthy cookbook library at home, and a fiancée with his own railroad book collection that’s continually expanding.

A small fraction of my fiancee’s train book library.

We both use our libraries as a resource for our work, so there’s never any conflict about a new box from Amazon or the Colorado Railroad Museum auction showing up on the doorstep.


On a stroll though a book called The Book of New New England Cookery by two of my favorite food writers, Judith and Evan Jones, I found a recipe that captured my attention. It was one of Judith’s mother’s standby recipes called Phyllis’ Chocolate Roll. She lists only four ingredients: eggs, confectioners’ sugar, unsweetened cocoa and heavy cream. I immediately got a vision of a Vermont dairy farm, where the eggs and cream would be no further away than out the door, and cocoa and confectioners’ sugar would be pantry staples.

The page in question.

Since I was starving for summer, my imagined farmhouse tableau also included ripe raspberries in the dooryard, and I knew they’d be lovely in a food photograph, so in the manner of bakers everywhere a new dessert began to take shape in my mind. My fiancée is particularly fond of the combination of chocolate and raspberries, and I have a fondness for mascarpone.

Here’s the recipe I came up with:
Chocolate Raspberry Roll, with thanks to Phyllis

Yield: 8 servings.
5 large eggs, separated
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup (1 1/2ounces) unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt (my addition)
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup (1 ounce) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) heavy cream
1 pint fresh raspberries
Glaze (optional)
1/3 cup (2 ounces) chocolate chips
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1/2 cup (4 ounces) heavy cream


This recipe calls for 5 eggs; I’ve moved them over to one side of the egg carton, so I know that when they’re gone, I’ve got them all in the recipe. I used to count yolks, but that’s not always possible, if they break as you add them to the bowl.

Since this recipe calls for separating the eggs and beating the whites, take my advice. Separate the whites into a small bowl, as you add the yolks to the big mixing bowl. After each egg is separated, move the white into its own mixing bowl and separate the next one into the empty small bowl. You can’t whip egg whites that have bits of yolk (chefs call them goldfish) in them, and if you have four whites in a bowl and get yourself a big old goldfish, you’ve just wasted a LOT of eggs.


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan, line with parchment paper, and butter the top of the paper.


Soft butter and a pastry brush make short work of this task.


Before any mixing action starts, it’s important to have your “landing” area ready. Dust a clean tea towel heavily with sifted confectioners’ sugar.

Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl, and beat until thick and lemon-colored.


Here you can see the yolks are thick, and the whisk is leaving tracks as it moves around in the mixing bowl.


The sugar and cocoa get pushed through a strainer to eliminate lumps.


Now they’re added to the eggs.


Time to whip the whites. Do this in a separate bowl with clean beaters or a whisk.
At first they look foamy as large air bubbles form.


Then they’ll get creamy and opaque, as the action of the whisk creates more and smaller bubbles.


When the whites mound in the bowl and leave tracks, you’re at soft peak.


Add a third of the whites to the chocolate mixture and fold it in to lighten it up. I use the mixer’s whisk to do this; for one thing, it’s one less utensil to wash. For another, the multiple tines of the whisk cut the whites into the heavy batter more efficiently than one flat spatula blade can.


The next third will be much easier to incorporate, and so will the last of the whites.


Pour the batter into the pan, spread it out evenly.


after the cake is baked, it will pull ever so slightly away from the edge of the pan.


This is where your advance preparation pays off.


Peel off the parchment,


spread the filling, and


place the berries. (They don’t need to be this regimented; a little more space between them is actually better).


Roll up the cake, using the towel to help you.


The last roll should be onto the serving plate, with the seam side down.


I’ve tucked some parchment paper around the cake to keep it clean, then I’m dusting the top with confectioners’ sugar.


The glaze ingredients go into the microwave to be melted together.


I’ve stirred everything to make it smooth, now it’s poured over the top.


Add the fresh raspberry garnish.


Gently remove the parchment paper. Now the beauty queen is ready for her closeup!


This recipe will make its print debut in the Summer issue of The Baking Sheet; hope you enjoy the sneak preview!

Susan Reid

Chef Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently the Food Editor of Sift magazine. She does demos, appearances, and answers food (and baking) questions from all quarters.


  1. nicolas

    Hi Susan, I was wondering for how many time did you leave the sponge in the oven at 350?. I’ll try this with strawberries, blueberries. if you do not have mascarpone you can try with cream cheese it is very similar. A little bit of rum makes it better ;).
    The sponge doesn’t take very long to bake; 15 to 17 minutes, max. Susan

  2. Brenda

    Thought I’d prefer this without the glaze, and quite certain of that after having it without. Sliced it, froze with slices laid down on a wax paper-lined half sheet, individually wrapped with plastic wrap when solid, and unwrapped and thawed at room temperature to the perfect frozen fruit consistency of still having ice crystals in the berries in the center, it was almost as good as fresh. I’ll definitely make and freeze this again some time, probably when wild raspberries are in season.

    Next weekend’s hopefully another batch of the brick oven pizza from the recipe section. A double batch lasted no time in the freezer, and been craving it ever since it was gone. I topped it with just a touch of a good jarred pizza sauce, a smidgen of shredded pizza cheese, and just a bit of chopped red onion, chopped Kalamata olives, and mushroom slices sauteed ’til most of the liquid was gone; almost more of a yummy bread with a hint of toppings to enhance it. Next batch will probably have just the sauce and cheese, or margherita IF I can find good tomatoes up here–used maybe 8 ounces each of sauce and cheese for the double batch of pizza.

  3. Dianne Nutzman

    Making this was fun until I got to the glaze, but I used 2 oz bar chocolate as opposed to chocolate chips and it was way too thin. Powdered sugar was used for thickening. I can’t wait to take them to work to share!

  4. Brenda

    Think I’d want to refrigerate it with all the eggs in the sponge, dairy in the filling, and raspberries. Hope to make it some weekend soon, and since I’m a family of one, will slice, freeze, then wrap and bag all but 1 (or 2, or 3…) slices, leaving the berries off the top of the roll; unwrap before thawing. If so, will let you know how it fares.

  5. Bethel Shields

    I wonder if it would be possible to state whether a recipe can be made ahead, whether it needs refrigeration, or whether it freezes well. This would be great to make a day ahead if possible.

  6. Susan Reid

    Dear Nel: The cornstarch in American confectioners’ sugar is there to prevent clumping. It’s a bout 3% by weight. Straight powdered sugar will work just as well, not to worry.

  7. Nel

    As I understand it, the confectioner’s sugar in the US has a little cornstarch in it. This is not the case where I am (Poland). Here, powdered sugar is just powdered sugar (though the cheaper brands are part glucose – and taste like it!).

    I wonder if the slight amount of cornstarch in the powdered sugar in this recipe makes any difference. Or would the recipe work just as well with powdered sugar that’s 100% sugar?

  8. Teresa

    Oh it’s so beautiful! Thank you as well for the detailed photographs and instruction. I must make this cake this spring/summer.

  9. Beth

    Thanks, Chef Reid, for showing in so much detail how to make a roll. I think I’ll finally get up the nerve to make one now. The photos are great.


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