A delicious recipe for Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake combining soft, fluffy sponge cake rolled with cream cheese frosting and covered in a rich chocolate ganache. It is an impressive yet surprisingly simple recipe to make that's fit for any occasion.
Your chocolate cravings will definitely be satisfied with this beauty of a cake. Not too rich and not too sweet, the chocolate in this dessert balances the cream cheese frosting filling perfectly. Whilst an optional addition, the blackberries provide the perfect fruity topping to the Swiss Roll.
If you love the combination of chocolate and blackberries, you’ll love my Chocolate Sour Cream Cake, or if you’d prefer to indulge in the richness of unadulterated chocolate, then my Italian Dark Chocolate Torte will blow you away.
In this post, I guide you with step by step photos and detailed a description so that you can set aside your fears of creating a Swiss roll and make it your next weekend baking project. Turn yourself into the next Mary Berry or Nigella by creating what looks like a super complicated but actually surprisingly simple dessert.
Whether you call this a Swiss Roll, Roulade, Cake Roll, or roll up dessert, I’m here to say that you can master this easy Chocolate Swiss Roll Recipe too. It’s a winner, and I want more than anything for you to enjoy it too.
Why you'll love this recipe
- The perfect balance of flavours. The chocolate isn't too rich, and the cream cheese frosting isn't too sweet—the perfect combination in one bite.
- Make ahead. This is a great option for an easy dessert that can be made ahead of time.
- It feeds a crowd! Depending on how thinly you slice the roll, you can get 10 to 12 slices out of this one roll. Perfect for entertaining
For the Chocolate Swiss Roll sponge cake
- Eggs - provide structure and, more importantly, moisture to the sponge. Make sure to whip them for the required time.
- Sugar - to sweeten the cake roll.
- Vanilla extract - to add extra flavour.
- Plain flour - To provide structure. Weigh the flour so that you don’t add too much, which will cause a dry sponge that will crack.
- Cocoa powder - use Dutch or natural cocoa powder in this recipe.
- Espresso powder - just a little goes a long way. It helps intensify the chocolate flavour, but you won’t taste the coffee at all.
- Baking powder - adds a little additional lift to the sponge.
- Salt - balances out the sweetness
For the cream cheese frosting
- Cream cheese - I recommend Philadelphia cream cheese. If using cream cheese from a tub (rather than brick/block form), pat the cream cheese with a paper towel to remove some moisture. (Refer to notes in How to make cream cheese frosting)
- Unsalted butter - adds taste and structure to the frosting. Beat it for long enough to create air.
- Vanilla extract - adds flavour.
- Powdered icing sugar - sift into the frosting to ensure a smooth consistency
For the chocolate ganache
- Dark chocolate - I recommend 70% chocolate for the perfect balance.
- Double cream - this ganache is thick, so add 60ml (¼ cup) more cream for a more pourable consistency.
- Butter - the magic ingredient to give your ganache shine, even when the chocolate sets. Salted or unsalted will do.
How to make a Chocolate Swiss Roll
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions!*
Make the chocolate cake sponge
1. Prepare your pan—grease with butter the base and sides of your baking pan and line with parchment paper. The paper should overhang the side so that it’s easier to remove the sponge from the tray later on. Grease the parchment paper as I find this will help with peeling off the paper before rolling the sponge.
2. Whip the eggs & sugar. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add eggs, sugar and vanilla extract and whip for a good 4 minutes until they are pale and thick.
TIP: When you lift the whisk up you should be able to see the trail of mixture for a couple of seconds.
3. Sift dry ingredients. Into a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder and salt.
4. Add dry ingredients to whipped eggs. Sift ¼ of the flour mix onto the whipped eggs and fold through gently. Next, sift the remaining dry ingredients evenly over the eggs. (This will stop the flour mix from sinking to the bottom of the bowl.
Using a large metal spoon or rubber spatula, fold the ingredients together, making sure that you get right to the bottom of the bowl, rotating the bowl as you go. There should be no dry bits remaining, but you also don’t want to over mix and knock out all the air from your whipped eggs.
⅚. Pour batter into baking pan. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and wiggle/turn the pan to move the batter to the pan's corners. Use an offset spatular if needed. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes until the centre springs back.
Be careful not to over bake the sponge; otherwise, you may get cracks when rolling the cake roll later.
7. Prepare your tea towel. Whilst the sponge is baking, sift cocoa powder onto a tea towel or sheet of parchment paper laid flat on the work surface. The cocoa powder needs to cover a slightly larger surface area than the pan the sponge is baking in.
8. Invert the sponge onto the tea towel. Once the sponge has baked, please remove it from the oven and invert immediately onto the cocoa powder on the prepared tea towel.
TIP: I prefer to use a tea towel as I find the sponge stays soft when it comes to unrolling it later on. Don’t worry; the cocoa powder does come out! Giving the tea towel a quick rinse when you've finished with it and then put it straight into the washing machine.
9. Peel off the parchment paper. Us your fingertips to gently peel the parchment paper away from the sponge.
10/11. Roll sponge up. Using your hands and starting from the short end of the sponge rectangle, gently but firmly roll the warm sponge into the tea towel. It would help if you did this whilst the sponge is still warm. Set the cake roll aside with its seam side down to cool completely.
Make the cream cheese frosting
Whilst the cake roll is cooling, this is the perfect opportunity to make your cream cheese frosting.
TIP: British Cream Cheese vs American Cream Cheese. What’s the difference? The cream cheese sold in tub form in UK has a much higher fat content than the brick/block equivalent. This higher fat equals more moisture in the cream cheese and this results in soupy frosting. That's a no-no! So we have to try and remove some of this moisture by patting the cream cheese with paper towel.
12. If using cream cheese from a tub, then place the cream cheese on two pieces of paper towel, fold the paper over until the cream cheese is fully covered, and pat dry. Repeat with another two pieces of paper towel. Philadelphia that comes in brick/block does not need to go through this process
13. Whip the butter and vanilla extract: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and vanilla extract for 4 minutes until pale and fluffy.
Sift in the powdered icing sugar and beat again for another 2 minutes, then add the cream cheese and beat until combined. Refrigerate for half an hour.
How to roll a Swiss Roll
Once the chocolate sponge has cooled down, it's time to get that chocolate roll with cream cheese filling rolled and prepared for its topping, the chocolate ganache.
14. Unroll sponge. Gently unroll the sponge from the tea towel or baking paper.
15. Fill with frosting. Dollop cream cheese frosting onto the sponge and, using an offset spatula, smooth out evenly over the sponge, leaving a 2 cm (1-inch) gap all around the edge of the sponge.
16. Roll time! Gently roll the sponge up again, trying not to squeeze out the filling too much.
17. Wrap and refrigerate. Wrap the roll in a piece of parchment paper and then tightly in plastic wrap for it to hold its shape. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours for the frosting to set.
Time to cover the swiss roll in chocolate!
Let me show you how to cover the Swiss Roll in chocolate ganache. Mine is a thick ganache that coats the roll thickly, but if you prefer a thinner coating, add more cream to the ganache.
18. Make the ganache. In a small saucepan, gently heat cream until warm and simmering around the edges. Place chocolate and butter into a bowl and pour the cream over the top. Let it stand for 5 minutes and then stir until chocolate is completely smooth and butter has melted.
19. Cover Swiss Roll. Unwrap rolled sponge from the plastic wrap and parchment paper and place on a wire rack set over a baking tray. Pour the ganache over the swiss roll and use an offset spatula to help spread the chocolate.
Either leave the Chocolate Swiss Roll plain covered only in chocolate ganache or decorate with blackberries for an extra finishing touch.
TIP: How to slice neatly
Before serving, slice the two ends off to neaten up the Swiss roll. There are two ways to do this effectively.
- With a knife: Heat the knife's blade by running it under hot water, wiping dry and slicing through. Heat and wipe the blade for every cut.
- With dental floss: Cut a long piece of dental floss, and holding each end, manoeuvre it under the Swiss roll to where you want the cut. Bring the two ends up around the roll to crossover on the top and pull together to slice through the cake roll.
Types of Swiss Roll
There are many different variations to a Swiss Roll, and I can’t wait to share more here on the blog. Other types I’m hoping to make in the future are:
- Raspberry Swiss Roll: Raspberry Conserve and creme fraîche filled lemon sponge roll, perfect for Springtime.
- Simple Vanilla Swiss Roll: Filled with sweetened whipped cream, this is refined simplicity at its best!
- Espresso Swiss Roll: Rich chocolate sponge filled with an espresso buttercream that would make a perfect base for a Christmas time yule log.
- Cookies n’ Cream Swiss Roll: For the ultimate treat for the kiddies, fill your chocolate Swiss Roll with whipped cream and crushed Oreo’s.
- Strawberry Swiss Roll: Vanilla sponge roll filled with roasted strawberry buttercream and decorated with fresh strawberries and mint leaves.
Fillings and topping substitutions
I’ve broken down some different ideas for your fillings and toppings for your Swiss roll if you don’t fancy cream cheese frosting or chocolate ganache. That’s the beauty of this dessert-style; the variations and mix and match opportunities are endless! You really can create your own adventure!!
- Sweetened whipped cream
- Chocolate frosting
- Roasted strawberry frosting (as on my Almond Strawberry Cupcakes)
- Fruity jam or conserve
- Oreo whipped cream
- Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream (as on my Apple Cider Cupcakes)
- Cocoa powder: Dust chocolate sponge with cocoa powder keeping it plain and simple
- Powdered icing sugar: Dust the chocolate sponge with powdered icing sugar for a sweet kick
- Caster sugar: Roll the sponge in caster sugar. When inverting the sponge onto the tea towel, instead of dusting it with cocoa powder, sprinkle the tea towel with caster sugar for a little crunch.
- Chocolate: Drizzle the sponge with melted white chocolate for a picture-perfect decorative effect.
- Don’t over bake the sponge. If you do, you’ll most likely develop cracks.
- Roll sponge immediately from the oven. The hot sponge will roll most easily when hot.
- The frosting has to be thick enough. Ensure the cream cheese frosting is has the correct consistency before spooning onto the sponge cake and rolling. You could have a soupy mess otherwise. (Read more about this in my FAQ’s)
- Refrigerate the roll before topping with the ganache. This allows the cream cheese frosting to set in place and keeps the roll together.
Frequently asked questions
A Swiss Roll is typically made up of a thin sponge filled with jam, whipped cream or buttercream and rolled into a spherical shape. On the other hand, a roulade is sweet or savoury and often involves rolling meat or pastry. Both are traditionally served as slices.
Absolutely! Remove the sponge from the freezer after it has baked, invert the sponge onto a tea towel and remove the parchment paper. Slice the sponge into 4 or 6 rectangles. Roll each rectangle up in cocoa dusted baking paper and set aside to cool on their seams. Fill each of the min rolls with filling and continue with the recipe.
You can buy specific Swiss Roll pans or jelly roll pans if you like (as seen here in the UK and the US), but as long as your baking pan is approximately 25x38cm (10x15-inch) with a 2.5cm (1-inch) lip all around, you will do great!
I’m not an aficionado of gluten-free baking, but my blogging friend Katerina of The Loopy Whisk has a gluten-free Chocolate Swiss Roll recipe for you to try out if you wish.
This Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake actually works really well as a make-ahead dessert. Fill the sponge, roll and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Make the ganache and cover the roll the same day as serving. The Swiss roll can then be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
I would recommend freezing it without the ganache. Fill the sponge and roll it up, wrapping it in plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and continue with the recipe to cover in ganache.
Why is my Chocolate Swiss Roll rubbery?
This boils down to how you mix your chocolate cake batter. If you over mix the batter, then the flour causes gluten strands that cause the batter to tighten and toughen when baking and results in a rubbery sponge. Fold the dry ingredients with a light hand and mix just until the flour is combined.
What happens if the sponge cracks?
If it has cracked slightly, don’t worry; keep going. Fill and roll as per my instructions, and the chocolate ganache will hide those cracks. It will still taste gorgeous.
How to store
Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Unfilled, a rolled sponge can be wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil and frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and allow to come to room temperature before filling and continuing with the recipe instructions.
Tools you’ll need
- Baking Pan / Swiss Roll Pan / Jelly Roll Pan: Needs to be approximately 25x38cm (10x15-inch) to bake a sponge that is 1cm (½ inch) flat.
- Stand mixer: The eggs and sugar need a good amount of whipping to increase their volume, and a stand mixer does this effortlessly. A handheld mixer can be used if necessary.
- Whisk Attachment: Used to aerate those eggs. Vital to use the whisk.
- Offset spatula: When dolloping the cream cheese frosting onto the sponge, the spatula helps smooth it evenly.
More chocolate cake recipes you may enjoy
- Chocolate Blackberry Sour Cream Cake
- Chocolate Orange Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Dark Chocolate Torte
Chocolate Swiss Roll Recipe
- Swiss roll pan
- Offset spatula
- 4 large eggs
- 100 g caster sugar (super-fine)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 85 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 20 g cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp fine salt
Cream cheese frosting
- 250 g Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
- 150 g unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250 g powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
- 200 g dark chocolate 70% , finely chopped
- 240 ml double cream (heavy cream)
- 15 g unsalted butter
- blackberries, optional
- Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F)Grease with butter or spray with non-stick spray the base and sides of a 25x38cm (10x15-inch) baking pan /swiss roll pan/jelly roll pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, ensuring the paper overhangs the pan's sides. This will help you later when trying to remove the sponge from the tin. Grease the parchment paper with butter, as this will help with peeling the paper off once the sponge has baked.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract and whip until the mixture is light and creamy, about 4 minutes. When lifting out the whisk, you want to be able to see trails of the mixture for a few seconds.
- Into a separate bowl, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder and salt. Sift ¼ of the flour mixture into the whisked eggs and, using a metal spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold through until just combined. Sift in the remaining flour mixture and again fold through whilst rotating the bowl. Ensure that you scrape right to the bottom of the bowl where flour air-pockets can remain. Try not to over mix/fold, as this will deflate the lovely air created during the initial whisking of the eggs.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and shake/wiggle the pan to help guide the batter into the pan's corners. Use an offset spatula if necessary to help smooth out the batter.
- Bake in the oven for 7-9 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean and springs back when pressed lightly.
- Whilst the sponge is baking, lay a tea towel or piece of parchment paper on your work surface and dust lightly with cocoa powder. (Alternatively, sprinkle with caster sugar or dust with powdered icing sugar)
- Once the sponge has baked, remove it from the oven and immediately invert the sponge onto the tea towel whilst it is still hot. Gently peel off the parchment paper on the bottom of the sponge. Starting from the sponge's short end, using your hands, roll the sponge up gently but firmly until it is totally rolled into the tea towel (or parchment paper). Set the roll aside with its seam side down to cool completely.
Cream cheese frosting
- Whilst the sponge roll is cooling, make the cream cheese frosting. If you are using Philadelphia from a tub, then place the cream cheese into the centre of two pieces of paper towel. Fold the paper towel around the cream cheese and pat it firmly to remove some of the moisture. Repeat this on another two pieces of paper towel. Set to one side. (There is no need to do this step if using Philadelphia in brick/block form).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and vanilla extract and beat on high for 4 minutes until pale and creamy. Add in the powdered icing sugar and beat until mixed in. Continue to beat for another two minutes. Add in the cream cheese and beat on medium speed until mixed through. The frosting should be smooth but firm enough to hold its shape. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.
- Once the sponge roll has cooled, gently unroll it. Spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the sponge's surface, leaving a 2cm (1-inch) gap around the edge. Re-roll the sponge up again and wrap it in parchment paper and then in plastic wrap for the roll to hold its shape. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours for the filling to firm up.
- Before serving, make the chocolate ganache. Place the chopped chocolate and butter into a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream gently on low heat until simmering around the edges. Pour the cream over the chocolate into the bowl and sit for a couple of minutes. Then whisk continuously until the chocolate is smooth and the butter has melted.
- Place the swiss roll onto a wire rack set on a baking tray. Slowly pour the ganache to coat the roll. Use an offset spatular to smooth the chocolate all over. Decorate with blackberries if desired and let the chocolate set for 20 minutes before slicing ends to neaten up the roll before serving. See tips below for slicing.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- How to store: Swiss roll can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. An unfilled, rolled sponge can be wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil and frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and allow to come to room temperature before filling and continuing with the recipe instructions.
- Alternatives: For a variation on the fillings, try jams, buttercream, whipped cream or creme fraîche. For variation in toppings, dust with icing sugar, roll in caster sugar or drizzle with melted white chocolate.
- Tip 1: To prevent the sponge from cracking: Ensure that you don't over bake as this will create a dry sponge. Invert and roll up when straight out of the oven as this is when the sponge is most pliable.
- Tip 2: Ensure the cream cheese filling is firm enough: The cream cheese filling has to be thick enough to smooth evenly onto the sponge. Leave a gap all the way around the edge so that it doesn't squeeze out all over the place when rolling.
- Tip 3: For neat, clean cuts. Use a hot bladed knife wiped clean between each cut or use dental floss to slice through.