Chocolate Swiss Roll Recipe

The Chocolate Swiss Roll Recipe you didn’t know you needed! That’s exactly how I felt when I first made this recipe and took a bite. One bite, and you’ll be hooked. Whether you need a dessert for a special occasion or just because you have a hankering for something chocolate, try this dessert. It’s always a crowd-pleaser.

a chocolate swiss roll on an oval platter with a knife to the side. There are two slices of cake nearby and a jar of chocolate ganache, with a tan backdrop underneath.

What is a Chocolate Swiss Roll?

A chocolate Swiss roll combines Genoise chocolate sponge cake, vanilla whipped cream, and chocolate ganache. This recipe is easy and requires simple ingredients, but the end result is impressive. It’s one of those cakes where you’ll eat one slice and think, “I could have another!”

This cake is neither too rich nor overly complicated to make. I taught bakers in my baking program how to make this dessert, and it was a favorite in my course.

Ingredients for This Recipe

Chocolate Sponge Ingredients

  • Egg yolks – Large egg yolks are essential in a genoise cake. They add structure and fat to the cake, and both play a role in developing the right texture.
  • Egg whites – Egg whites are key for cake structure as well. Room-temperature egg whites whip up better and easier, so always bring your egg whites (and yolks) to room temperature before whipping.
  • Granulated sugar – There isn’t an abundance of sugar in this recipe, and that’s because this is a European-style cake. The trick to any good cake is to create good flavor without making it overly sweet.
  • Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder – This specific type of cocoa powder has a smoother and less acidic taste than natural cocoa powder. I highly recommend this brand, as it’s some of the best cocoa powder in the world!
  • Kosher Salt – Salt is vital for enhancing the chocolate flavor and balancing out the sweetness. Use kosher salt, not table salt.
  • Baking Powder – This recipe contains a small amount of baking powder, which helps to give this cake a little more lift without baking it at a high temperature. The overall texture of the cake is better with baking powder as well (I test everything!).
  • Cake Flour – Use cake flour to achieve a soft texture. All-purpose flour will create a tougher crumb, so using a low-protein flour like cake flour is best.
  • Unsalted Butter – Unsalted butter helps add just a touch of fat and richness to this cake. Be careful not to stir it in vigorously, or the batter will become tough and rubbery. Gentleness is key.
  • Canola Oil – You can also use another neutral oil, such as vegetable oil. Oil is important because it coats the gluten strands in the flour, preventing them from getting tough.
  • Vanilla – Use pure vanilla extract for the best flavor. Vanilla complements the flavor of the chocolate.

Whipped Cream Filling Ingredients

  • Heavy cream – Use cold heavy cream so it whips up quickly and has good volume. Choose heavy cream with 34-40% fat content.
  • Powdered Sugar – Powdered sugar adds sweetness to the filling, and it also helps the whipped cream to thicken. This helps stabilize the whipped cream filling in the Swiss roll.
  • Vanilla Extract – adds flavor to the filling.

Ganache Ingredients

  • Bittersweet Chocolate – This chocolate is the perfect balance for the chocolate Swiss roll. It’s not too sweet nor too rich, and it adds the right amount of “chocolate” feel.
  • Canola oil – The oil helps to thin out the ganache so it’s more pourable. If your ganache is too thick after mixing, add an extra tablespoon of oil to thin it out.
  • Heavy Cream – This ingredient is traditionally used to make ganache. Warm the cream until simmering so it melts the chocolate easily.
A chocolate swiss roll covered in chocolate ganache on a speckled oval platter. The platter is on a tan backdrop with chocolate ganache and some plates and silverware in the background

How to Make a Chocolate Swiss Roll

This is a general overview of the recipe. See the recipe card below for the full details.

  1. Whip the yolks and sugar until light and thick.
  2. In a separate bowl, whip egg whites, sugar, and salt until stiff peaks form, and then fold the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and gently fold with a spatula.
  4. Add the vanilla, oil, and butter, and gently fold.
  5. Grease and line a jelly roll pan with parchment, and pour the cake batter into the pan. Spread the batter evenly with an offset spatula.
  6. Bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes.
  7. Turn the cake immediately onto a clean tea towel or 12×16 piece of parchment (dusted with cocoa powder).
  8. Roll the cake up in the towel or parchment while the cake is hot, and allow to cool undisturbed for several hours.
  9. Once the cake is cool, whip the whipped cream ingredients to stiff peaks, unroll the chocolate Swiss roll, and fill with whipped cream.
  10. To make the ganache, pour hot heavy cream over the chocolate and whisk to combine. Add the oil, and then pour over the swiss roll to finish.

Baking Essentials

  • A kitchen scale
  • A stand mixer with a paddle and whisk attachment
  • A hand mixer
  • A small offset spatula
  • A 10×15 jelly roll pan
  • A piece of parchment paper (10×15 in.) to line the jelly roll pan
  • Another piece of parchment to roll the cake (12×16 in.)
  • A fine mesh sifter (I use these)
  • A small or medium whisk
  • A small pot for warming the heavy cream
  • A serrated knife for chopping the chocolate (optional but recommended)

How to Prevent Cracks in Your Swiss Roll

Don’t Overbake the Cake

If you overbake your cake, there is a very high chance it will crack during the rolling or unrolling process. This is because too much moisture has escaped from the cake during baking, and it’s drier than it should be.

When overbaked, the cake will be less flexible, making it more difficult to roll without cracking.

Roll the Cake Immediately

Don’t let the cake cool before you roll it in the tea towel or parchment! Either material works for rolling, but it only works well if you roll the cake up as soon as it comes out of the oven.

When the cake comes out of the oven, its structure is still setting, so it is more flexible than after it has cooled.

Don’t Roll the Cake Too Tight

While you want to roll the cake into a nice log, don’t try to make it so tight that the cake structure cracks. If your hands are pressing hard or squeezing the cake while rolling, it’s probably too tight.

A slice of chocolate swiss rol on a white plate with a gold fork. There is another slice nearby on a plate, and the rest of the swiss roll is on a platter to the side. The cake is on a tan backdrop.

Decoration Ideas for Swiss Rolls

This dessert is beautiful as is, but you can also add some pretty garnishes on top of the chocolate Swiss roll. When I taught a class about this cake, I showed bakers how to use a French star tip to make a pretty design on top with extra whipped cream.

You can also slice strawberries and decorate the top center with the cut berries. Another option is to sprinkle with finely chopped nuts and coconut.

But if you want to stick with the classic design, you don’t need any other decorations besides the chocolate ganache glaze.

Commonly Asked Questions About Chocolate Swiss Rolls

Why does my sponge cake have holes or air bubbles?

Don’t worry, this happens sometimes! The air bubbles or small holes come from the air that gets trapped in the cake batter during mixing. Additionally, the baking powder adds air bubbles that expand and rise during baking. Sometimes, you’ll see a few small holes in the Swiss roll as you cut the slices.

To reduce the appearance of holes, gently tap the jelly roll pan of cake batter on the counter. This will help to release some of the air bubbles before baking.

Why is my chocolate ganache glaze too thick?

If your chocolate ganache glaze is too thick to pour, this could be for a few reasons. First, the glaze may have cooled too long before pouring and is beginning to set up.

Second, the variety of chocolate you use can affect the overall thickness of the ganache. For example, white chocolate is much thinner in consistency than dark chocolate. Even selecting 56% cocoa versus 60% cocoa can make a difference.

If your chocolate glaze is too thick, add a little more heavy cream and an extra tablespoon of neutral oil. The amount of cream you add depends on your desired consistency, so there isn’t a set number of milliliters for this.

What are other filling and flavor options?

When I taught bakers how to make this cake in my baking program, many bakers wanted to try other variations after making this chocolate Swiss roll. Some other flavor combinations that work well include strawberries and cream filling, chocolate and orange, Nutella with strawberries and cream, and chocolate with coconut and caramel.

a chocolate swiss roll on an oval platter with a knife to the side. There are two slices of cake nearby and a jar of chocolate ganache, with a tan backdrop underneath.

How long does this cake last?

While a chocolate Swiss roll is technically good to eat for up to seven days, the filling deflates some after a few days, so it’s best to eat this cake within 3 days.

Can this cake be frozen?

Yes, this cake can be frozen unfilled for up to a month. Wrap and freeze the unfilled cake after you roll it into a log and it is completely cool. You can also freeze the cake if it is filled with stabilized whipped cream. Otherwise, traditional whipped cream (as is used in the recipe) will become a runny mess after thawing. You can learn more about stabilized whipped cream in my post on lemon cream puffs.

What’s the best way to store this cake?

Once this cake is filled and coated in chocolate ganache, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Because this cake contains whipped cream, it must be refrigerated.

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Chocolate Swiss Roll Recipe

a chocolate swiss roll on an oval platter with a knife to the side. There are two slices of cake nearby and a jar of chocolate ganache, with a tan backdrop underneath.

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This chocolate Swiss roll is the cake you didn’t know you needed! It’s light and chocolatey, has a delicious filling, and it’s easy to make. With a chocolate genoise sponge, whipped cream, and chocolate ganache, what’s not to love?!

  • Author: Camille
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cool Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours 38 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Sponge Method
  • Cuisine: French

Ingredients

Units Scale

Chocolate Spong Cake

  • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites room temperature (approx 128 g)
  • 110 g granulated sugar, divided into 2
  • 30 g Dutch-process cocoa powder (I use this brand)
  • 1/8 tsp coarse kosher salt (Morton’s)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 80 g cake flour
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbs canola oil or neutral oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Whipped Cream Filling

  • 296 ml heavy cream, cold (1 1/4 c)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or 3/4 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 70 g powdered sugar

Ganache Glaze

  • 113 g (4 oz) bittersweet chocolate 60% cocoa, finely chopped
  • 14 g (1 Tbs) unsalted butter
  • 120 ml (1/2 c) heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs neutral oil, like canola oil

Instructions

To Make Chocolate Sponge Layer

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F/190 C.
  2. Grease and line a 10×15 jelly roll pan and set aside.
  3. Beat the egg yolks and 55 grams of sugar for 5 minutes on medium-high** until thick and light in color.
  4. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and remaining sugar until foamy, then add the salt. Mix until stiff peaks form.
  5. Stir 1/4 of the whipped whites into the egg yolks, and then fold in the remaining whites in two additions. 
  6. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Add these dry ingredients to the egg mixture in 3 additions, gently folding each time. 
  7. Add the oil, vanilla, and melted butter to the batter, and gently fold a few times to incorporate. Don’t overmix. Spread the batter into the pan with an offset spatula to create an even layer.
  8. Bake at 350 F for 8-10 minutes, or until the top springs back when you lightly touch it, and the sides of the cake pull slightly away from the edges of the pan. Watch closely, as it bakes very fast. 
  9. While the cake is baking, dust a clean tea towel or 12×16 piece of parchment generously with cocoa powder. Turn the baked cake immediately onto the parchment or tea towel when it’s done baking. Starting at the short end of the cake, roll the towel and the cake until it’s in a “swiss roll” shape. Be sure to roll the cake while it’s hot. Otherwise, it may crack.
  10. Cool completely in the towel until it reaches room temperature (a few hours). Don’t unroll the cake until it has completely cooled and you are ready to fill it.

To Make the Filling

  1. Whip the heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar to stiff peaks (with a hand or stand mixer and whisk attachment).
  2. Gently unroll the chocolate Swiss roll and spread the whipped cream filling evenly inside, stopping about 1/2 to 1 inch from the edges. Gently roll the Swiss roll up and make the ganache.*

To Make the Chocolate Ganache Glaze

  1. Finely chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl along with the butter.
  2. Warm the heavy cream in a small pot over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk gently to combine until smooth and silky, then add the oil and whisk.
  3. Gently pour or spoon the ganache over the Swiss roll and spread to coat the cake’s exterior.
  4. Transfer the roll to a serving platter and refrigerate uncovered for 2-3 hours to help the whipped cream and ganache set. If desired, top with additional whipped cream, nuts, or fruit.
  5. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator, and eat within 3 days for the best result.
  6. When serving, cut the cake with a serrated knife. This creates clean slices of cake.

Notes

**You can use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or a hand mixer with a whisk attachment. Both work well.

* Don’t refrigerate the cake before adding the ganache because the cake will be cold and cause the ganache to set too quickly. The ganache will be more difficult to spread and will be messier.

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