Craft Advent: Day 20: Dark Chocolate Roulade

On day 11 of #CraftAdvent2015 I welcomed the fabulous Helen from The Busy Mama's blog. I mentioned then that she was a "craft-goddess" with ALL the making and baking skills. Well, she's already proven that she's crafty with her cute felt Christmas trees and she's managed to wow me again today with her baking skills. This recipe sounds divine... it's as if Helen knows the way to my heart is with chocolate... all the chocolate...

Crikey Sadhbh – that month has flown! Well done on the Advent – it’s been great to follow and lovely to be asked to make another contribution – this time a foodie one! As we’re all off to do the mega-shop for the food-fest that is Christmas Day, I thought it might be useful to post a recipe for a tried and tested dessert that would be perfect for Christmas Day. Maybe it’s just me, but by the time starters and mains are done, I’m ready to climb into my old maternity jeans and let it all hang out! There very idea of anything rich - like a mince pie, trifle or pudding, is too much for me, so if I do make a dessert it got to be relatively light. Added to the fact the Christmas Day is busy enough I also want something I can have ready to roll – ideally from the day before. 

So with this list of ‘must-dos’ in mind here’s a fabulous Dark Chocolate Roulade. It’s flour-free and as light as a mousse but has the texture of a moist sponge. You can make the base the day before and add the cream and toppings an hour or two before serving. And if you’re so inclined you could lash a few sprigs of holly on it and call it a light take on a Yule Log!

Here’s the version I’ve been knocking out for years – and which has almost never let me down. There are a few things I’d point out. First – as I’m always looking for a shortcut, I melt the chocolate in brief bursts in the microwave but you can also do it on the hob in a heavy bottomed saucepan. If you use the microwave, don’t be tempted to go for bursts longer than 30 seconds as the chocolate melts pretty fast and will burn and separate if you’re not keeping watch. Second – you need a good mixer for this one and I wouldn’t dream of trying to mix this by hand. Third – the basic recipe uses whipped cream in the middle but added fruit is amazing. Try passion fruit; hulled and sliced strawberries; or fresh raspberries. You can also use frozen berries but be sure to remember that if you are using imported berries they should be boiled for a minute, cooled and well drained, before using. Finally – if you’re making this in advance, continue to step 7 and seal the cooled cake in tin foil and store at room temperature. The next day you just pick up where you left off.

But without further ado, here it is: Dark Chocolate Roulade.

You will need: a swiss-roll tin (c.28cm x 35cm), tin foil, tea towel, mixer with balloon whisk, greaseproof paper, ingredients as below with option extras such as chocolate chips, fruit, grated chocolate, etc.

1. Line the swiss-roll tin with tinfoil and lightly grease with butter – making sure to butter the corners. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

2. Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar until they form a thick mousse which holds a pattern when you trail the whisk over the surface.

3. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

4. Put the chocolate and water in a microwaveable bowl and melt in 30 second bursts, stirring regularly. This takes about 2 minutes in total. Alternatively you can melt the chocolate and water mix in a heavy bottomed saucepan, stirring frequently. Once melted, allow the mix to cool slightly before adding to the yolk mix, stirring thoroughly to combine.

5. Fold the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture and combine gently – making sure not to knock the air out.

6. Pour the mix into the tin and smooth with a spatula. Bake in the oven for about 14 to 16 minutes until the centre is firm to the touch.

7. Remove from the oven and put the tray on a cooling rack. Cover with a damp tea towel to prevent cracks and allow to cool. 

8. To turn it out of the tin, cover the top of tin with a sheet of greaseproof paper that’s wider than the tin (so you can hold it in place while you flip!). Place the cooling rack on top and holding firm, flip the tin. Remove the tin and the foil.

9. Spread the cream and any other fillings across the roulade – being careful not to overfill. Using the greaseproof paper, roll the roulade gently but quickly and lift onto a serving plate.

Now, most of my roulades look a bit rough and ready at this stage but a dusting of icing sugar (right before you serve or it keeps disappearing), lashing of grated chocolate or sprinkling of chocolate chips, is very forgiving. Add any festive bits and pieces and off you go.

Enjoy. Change into those maternity trousers, and enjoy again.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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