Give your family a fabulous festive treat with this chocolate roulade

Decorate into a Yule log for an elaborate, luxurious seasonal centrepiece

Christmas chocolate roulade.

Christmas chocolate roulade.

 

A chocolate roulade makes an elaborate centrepiece at this time of year. Deliciously light, flourless and therefore gluten free, it tastes even better when made the day before. When decorated into a Yule log (or bûche de Noël) it makes a fabulous festive treat. Flavours such as brandy, Cointreau, coffee, sweetened chestnut purée and even ginger can be added to the chocolate sponge or filling. 

This luxurious recipe combines cherries, orange and a rich chocolate filling. Roulade’s age-old predicament of cracking thwarts many an eager Swiss roller. The current wisdom that a few cracks are par for the course provides solace in the nail-biting moments before you attempt a flawless roll.

My tips are not to use chocolate with a high cocoa solid content (no more than 55 per cent). Add room temperature eggs to chocolate, adding slowly, as sudden changes in temperature may cause chocolate to stiffen. Don’t overbake the sponge or it will be less forgiving when rolling. And if you do find some cracks, a liberal dusting with cocoa powder provides the perfect cover-up.

To create a simpler but no less tasty version of this recipe, simply fill with whipped cream (instead of chocolate mousse) and dust icing sugar over the top.   

CHOCOLATE ROULADE WITH CHERRIES

Christmas chocolate roulade.
Christmas chocolate roulade.

Ingredients
Serves 8
200g dark chocolate (max 55% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
25g butter
5 eggs, room temperature, separated into yolks and whites
150g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate mousse filling
50g caster sugar
100g cream (plus 2-3tbsp extra cream to thicken)
100g dark chocolate, chopped
10g butter

To decorate
Zest of 1 orange
1 tin pitted cherries, (approx 260g), drained 100ml stiffly whipped cream
2tbsp cocoa powder
Toasted flaked almonds, grated chocolate, pomegranates

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Method
Preheat oven to 180°C fan. Grease and line a Swiss roll tin (32cm x 22cm) with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth, remove from heat to cool for 5 minutes.

Whisk the yolks and sugar on a high speed for 10 minutes to a ribbon consistency. Add in the vanilla extract. 

Incorporate 2tbsp of the egg yolk and sugar mixture into the chocolate, then at a low speed, beat the chocolate into the egg mixture.

In a spotlessly clean bowl (with cleaned whisks), whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. Stir one large spoonful of egg white into the chocolate mixture (to loosen it), before folding in the remaining egg whites.

Spread the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 15 minutes until risen and the top is just firm to touch.

Cover the sponge with a clean, damp cloth or damp kitchen paper, and leave to cool fully.

To make the chocolate mousse filling
In a small saucepan, boil the sugar and cream and simmer for 1 minute. Off the heat, add in the chocolate, stirring until melted. Return to the heat and simmer without stirring for a further 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add butter and bathe the saucepan in a bowl of cold water, to cool the mixture. Once cool, gradually stir in 3tbsp cream, whip to a spreadable mousse-like consistency (note: if allowed to cool, it stiffens, so to resoften, rewhip with a little cream).

To roll the roulade, peel away the cloth. Place a parchment sheet on a work surface and dust with 1tsp cocoa powder. From the long side, flip the sponge onto the paper, peel away lining.

Spread the mousse over the sponge, leaving a 2cm gap at one short end. Scatter the filling with the orange zest and most of the cherries.

With the filled short end positioned closest to you, spoon on a thick band of cream a third of the way in (across the roll). Starting from the short end, use gentle pressure to ease the sponge into a roll.

Dust with cocoa powder and decorate with remaining cherries, orange zest and any combination of toasted nuts, chocolate curls, pomegranate seeds.

Variation
Double this recipe and bake in a larger baking tray to make a sensational occasion roulade.

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