Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chocolate Roulade

The last holiday-appropriate dessert I'll share this week is my favorite.

Chocolate Roulade looks so spectacular it'd be easy to speculate that it's difficult to make.

There's no doubt about it, it can be fiddly, but there's a couple of simple tricks to making this beautiful dessert and one is rolling the cake.

My mother would use a kitchen towel, flipping the baked oblong cake onto the towel, and then taking the corners she'd try and roll the cake inward.

Maybe you've tried this method, and like my mother's experience, found the cake adhering to the towel in a disastrous mess.

When I was a chef, this was a very popular dessert with our clients so over the years, I probably made several hundred.

Very early on, via trial and error, one of my colleagues and I discovered a more manageable and successful way to roll the cake -- no kitchen towels and no mess involved. (See details below.)

Also, there are a number of recipes out there for chocolate roulade. Some include flour, some cocoa powder instead of chocolate; the recipe I'll share today has no flour -- only eggs, sugar, and melted bittersweet chocolate.

I like this recipe over the others because it's uncomplicated, gluten-free, and the roulade is melt-in-your mouth light and delectable.

As I mentioned yesterday strawberries, which feature as decoration around the roulade (pic above), are not in season now and because of that the container I bought were expensive, about $5 for a pound, plus their flavor and color were somewhat anemic.

Consider the alternative presentations I list below before buying out-of-season berries to decorate your roulade.

Chocolate Roulade
1) Line an oblong baking tray (approx 11 in by 17 in) with foil. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon light oil, i.e. canola, over foil. With your fingers, smooth the oil over the entirety of the foil.
2) Sprinkle about 1-2 tablespoon plain flour (it could be any flour, wheat or rice etc.) over the oiled foil. Shake the baking tray so the flour completely coats the oil which is completely coating the foil.
Note: The above two steps are very important. If the foil is not completely coated with oil then flour, you'll find that the cake, when cooked, will stick to the foil in those spots.

3) Separate 6 large eggs or 7 small eggs -- yolks in one mixing bowl and whites in another mixing bowl.
4) To the yolks, add 4 oz of fine sugar.
5) Beat the yolks and sugar until light and creamy (pic to left).
6) Into a small bowl, break an 8 oz block of good quality bittersweet chocolate. Pop the bowl into the microwave and run for a minute or so or until the chocolate has melted.
7) Using a rubber spatula, scrape the melted chocolate into the bowl of whipped yolks and sugar.
8) Gently stir the melted chocolate through the egg yolk mix with the spatula. Set aside.
9) Making sure your beaters are completely clean of egg yolks, now use them whip the whites until they're stiff.
10) Using your spatula, scrape the egg yolk, sugar and chocolate mix over the beaten egg whites (pic below to left).

11) With your spatula (or a whisk), fold the chocolate mix through the egg whites. Don't beat the mix rather, use a gentle circular motion to fold the ingredients together.
12) Pour the mix onto your oiled and floured baking tray, scraping the mixing bowl with your spatula; spreading the mix evenly over the tray.
13) Pop tray into a 350-degree oven for about 10 -12 mins.
14) Remove tray from oven and let it sit and cool on a wire rack or chopping board.
15) Once it's cooled, pull the foil away from the sides of the cake, as in the pic below.
16) Now take a couple of the foil corners and lift the cake out of the tray, laying it on a flat surface.
17) Rip off a piece of Cling Wrap, one that's a bit longer than the length of the cake, and place it over the top of the cake.

Note: This is the trick my colleague and I discovered -- Cling Wrap, rather than a kitchen towel, is the no-mess solution to rolling the cake into a "roulade."

18) Now take the two top corners of foil and Cling Wrap with your thumbs and forefingers and flip the cake over so the Cling Wrap is under the cake and the foil is now facing up.
19) Gently peel the foil off the cake.
20) For the roulade filling, whip a pint of cream and spice it with cinnamon and nutmeg, and a little icing sugar. Or melt some additional chocolate and fold it into the whipped cream. It will turn hard and fill the whipped cream with little spindles of chocolate.

I have found the whipping cream in the U.S. to be much lower in butterfat and higher in water than cream in Australia with the consequence that it doesn't whip into firm peaks. And if the cream is too soft and watery it will ruin the roulade because it will saturate the cake.

Try using mascarpone or sour cream, both of which are already quite thick, if you have concerns about regular whipping cream holding its shape.

Having spread cream over the cake, now take the two corners of Cling Wrap closest to you, and lift the cake slightly, turning it in and rolling it gently, using the Cling Wrap to guide the cake inward.
22) Have a long platter close by, and just before your final roll, use the Cling Wrap to lift the cake onto your platter, making the final rolling motion with the cake on the platter.

To Serve: Dust the top of the roulade with icing sugar. If you want to decorate the roulade with colorful berries think strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, though keep in mind they're expensive at this time of the year.

An alternative might be to top the roulade with chunks of chopped nut toffee or chopped chunks of bittersweet chocolate mixed with roasted pecan and or walnut pieces.

Or you could present the roulade plain, dusted with a little icing sugar, and serve it as an accompaniment to the Pears in Red Wine featured yesterday.

No comments: