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Chocolate Cake Roll
(12/26/2017 clarifying NOTICE: NOT copyrighted)

This desert is sometimes referred to as a Yule Log. Here is the recipe for one roll. Do one recipe at a time. Don't double or triple! You can do the cake-baking part ahead of time by at least a day. Delay the whipped cream (MUST use true whipped cream!) filling stage until you are ready to produce the finished desert without much delay. An aside: my step-daughter prefers a LOT of interior whipped cream and no chocolate frosting on the surface. She prefers a good dusting of confectioners sugar on the up-side surface of the roll. We made a RECIPE HOW-TO VIDEO, HERE:
(Tragically, YouTube took the video down without notice!)


  • electric mixer with bowl
  • large bowl to mix egg whites
  • small bowl to mix yolks
  • 1/2 inch or less deep by 15 long by 9 to 10 inch wide baking pan...we are making a thin sheet cake
  • bread or dish towel slightly larger than baking pan
  • various spoons, spatula, etc.
  • wax paper
  • shoe-box sized plastic container with top (from Dollar Store, etc.) to store the finished desert in refrig. & to transport

cake roll ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3rd  cup Hershey's cocoa
  • 1/4th teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4th teaspoon table salt
  • 3/4ths cup regular white table sugar
  • 1 teaspoonful McCormick-type pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

filling ingredients:

  •  2 tablespoons of regular white table sugar
  • 1/2 pint heavy (8% fat) whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoonful McCormick-type pure vanilla extract

topping ingredients: 

  • icing...frosting: a store-bought, canned Hershey type, spreadable chocolate type icing (frosting). Some prefer confectioners (icing) sugar instead of icing & others prefer cream cheese icing).
  • nuts: a couple tablespoons of finely chopped pecans

the "making it" process:

  1. Prepare the baking pan: VERY thinly grease (or spray with Pam) a sheet of foil and mold into bottom of a greased (or Pam-sprayed) 15 by 9 to 10 inch baking pan (not thin metal pan...metal heat transfer makes cake stick to foil). 

  2. Make your cake roll mix:  
    >the dry ingredients: sift flour, cocoa, & salt together

    >the egg whites: beat egg whites (meringue-like) in large bowl until soft peaks form & then add the sugar gradually until stiff peaks form
    >the egg yolks: then, in a small bowl, beat egg yolks with the vanilla added together until thick
    >then, start combining the above: by always gently folding & mixing as much air in as follows,
    >first fold yolk mixture gently onto & into the egg whites in that large bowl using spatula
    >then fold dry ingredients gently but thoroughly into that initial egg stuff

  3. Baking the cake component...timing & checking is CRUCIAL in this stage:
    >then put it all in the baking pan: pour the mix gently into baking pan & spread wall-to-wall  by tilting & jostling mix within the lifted pan to make it flow to cover all area and never touching it with hand or spatula to spread.
    >bake: in oven pre-heated to 400 degrees F. for only as little as 5-6, maybe 7-8 minutes!!...only until as soon as a toothpick comes out fairly clean. If you bake to long, cake sheet will split & crack when rolling.

  4. Shaping, rolling the lightly baked sheet cake:
    immediately remove from oven & fairly quickly turn the cake, while in the baking pan, upside down onto the towel
    >lift pan off using a fork at edge & gently lift/peel foil off starting at an end
    >gently & loosely roll up cake and towel along short axis
    >let cool completely at room can hold over night.
    >hold it in your plastic container until ready to finish (fill with whipped cream as soon as cake cools & re-roll & refrigerate until when you want to put the surfrace frosting on).

  5. MAKE the filling: place the 3 components in an electric mixer bowl and mix to make the whipped-cream filling. Cover & refrigerate until ready to fill the roll.

  6. Putting it all together:
    >fill the roll: carefully unroll the "set" cake roll and gently copiously/liberally spread whipped-cream on interior surfaces of roll & re-roll & place onto wax paper to use as a "lift" in & out of the container.
    >put frostinging (surface topping) on: See choices, above; shortly before the meal, spread the frosting topping on the "up" surface of the roll. And dust or cover the frosted surface with the pecan bits (unless the customer or guests don't want the pcan bits on it).
    >store it: in refrig. until serving the desert; you can use the wax paper lift to take out of box...take off a slice or more 7 then use the wax paper lift to return to the container.
  7. Serving: Too much manipulation and moving the roll around is not good. Two ways = (1) keeping roll in the box, slice across the roll with sharp knife to make slices about an inch or more thick, removing them one at a time. (2) As in #6, "store it", above, if you used the wax paper method, lift roll out and cut off what you want and return remainder of roll to the box.

    Neat Recipe Note: This was my family's absolute favorite desert from my years of grade school until Mrs. A. K. Elizabeth Bernshouse died, and I've only personally known 3 people who can make it (though its not THAT hard to make)...Mrs. Bernshouse, her daughter Elizabeth Jennings, and my wife, Betty. My mother (MBS) changed nephrostomy dressings for Mrs. Bernshouse every few days for many years. In appreciation Mrs. Bernshouse would make a "chocolate roll" a couple times per year for our special family occasions. When I went off to college & then medical school, I could always count on a chocolate roll for desert if I could give 2 days notice of coming home to Sumter, S. C. Mrs. Bersnhouse' son, Wilbert, was my boyscout scout master & the southeastern dean of scoutmasters. Imagine my amazement when, many years later, Betty (who grew up in Lexington, S. C.) whipped out a chocolate roll for an occasion. Betty got her recipe over the phone from a black lady in Orangeburg who was friends with Betty's ex-mother-in-law. On 15 Dec. 2017, Helen Grumbles Thomas (Sumter native) told me that Mrs. R. A. LeCoq of Sumter made these rolls, too!

Experimenters, caution: Let's say you wanted to bake and roll up the sheet cake part on a Thursday & drive out of town after work on Friday and serve at a Sunday dinner during a weekend filled with other activities that soaked up most of your time. I wonder if you could just buy Cool Whip & icing at that out of town place and throw together a pretty good, similar "chocolate roll". Maybe your trip would even be an airline flight to the other coast! ***[I tried Cool Whip and it does NOT need real whip cream! Cool Whip just soaks into the cake.]

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(posted 15 December 2007; update 16 December 2017)