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This traditional Chocolate Roll recipe (a.k.a. “Chocolate Swiss Roll”) is easy to customize with your favorite filling — traditional cream cheese, chocolate, peppermint, or whatever other creative idea you might have. It’s also easy to make ahead of time and freeze, and it is perfect for entertaining!
And…the third roll’s a charm.
Guys! Since posting my favorite pumpkin roll recipe last fall, followed by this irresistible carrot cake roll recipe this past spring, I have had sooo many of you write and ask for a third roll recipe…a chocolate roll! Or as it’s also called, a chocolate Swiss roll. I must have been living in my own little pumpkin roll bubble for too long because I had no idea these were such a thing. But I suppose that with chocolate involved, I shouldn’t have been surprised. ?
By contrast to traditional pumpkin rolls, though, it seems like there are about a bajillion different ways you can go about making a chocolate roll. Some fill theirs with cream cheese filling, some with buttercream, some with mousse, some with straight whipped cream. Some flavor their filling with chocolate, some with raspberry, some with peppermint, some with a shot of their favorite liqueur. Some top theirs with powdered sugar, some with cocoa powder, some with chocolate ganache, some with any number of random toppings. Basically…the chocolate cake sky is the limit here.
I did some tinkering around with a few various recipes and landed upon a chocolate cake base that will get you off to a good start. And then because I’m a creature of baking-roll-habit, I stuck with my trusty cream cheese filling and dusting of powdered sugar on top. (<– So good.) But feel free to make this recipe your own, and go ahead and do yourself a favor and make a double batch. Because:
- these rolls can be made ahead of time, and chill in the refrigerator (for a few days) or freezer (for a few months) beautifully
- they are always, always, always a hit at a gathering
So grab your cocoa powder, and let’s make some!
If you’re brand new to the dessert roll, I highly recommend taking a peek at my pumpkin roll video to get a visual for exactly how to roll, unroll and re-roll a pumpkin/carrot/chocolate cake roll. It’s not hard at all, but I think it’s much easier to understand through a visual than with words. ??
To make the chocolate roll, begin by making your chocolate cake. The batter is really simple, and gets kicked up a notch with a touch of espresso powder. (<– Don’t worry, it won’t taste like coffee! The espresso powder just helps bring out the flavor of the chocolate. But you can also leave it out, if you’d prefer.) Once it’s ready to go, pour it into a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan that has been lined with parchment paper. (Oh, and be sure to leave yourself an extra inch or so of parchment sticking up on all sides. This will make the cake easier to roll, so that you can grab onto the parchment and not have to touch the hot cake.)
Bake the cake until it is just done. Then immediately (and very carefully!) grab onto the parchment and lift the cake out of the pan and onto a heat-safe flat surface. Then slowly roll the cake from short-end to short-end, until it forms a roll. (See above.)
Let the cake cool for a few hours until it is completely room-temp. (If you try to unroll and fill it while it’s still warm, the filling will likely melt and ooze out.) Then carefully unroll the cake, spread your filling evenly all over the surface, re-roll the cake. And voila! You can either serve it right away, or I recommend wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerating it for at least an hour so that the filling can firm up a bit.
As I said, there are about a thousand different ways that you can top and fill this chocolate roll. So feel free to Google around if you’d like something different than the suggestions I offer below. But otherwise, enjoy!! (And be sure to tag me in your photos if you make one — I’d love to see your creations!)
This recipe contains affiliate links.
This traditional Chocolate Roll recipe (a.k.a. “Chocolate Swiss Roll”) is easy to customize with your favorite filling — traditional cream cheese, chocolate, peppermint, or whatever other creative idea you might have. It’s also easy to make ahead of time and freeze, if you’d like.
Chocolate Cake Ingredients:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- optional: 1/2 teaspoon <a href="https://amzn.to/2Auiv7q" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">espresso powder</a>
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients:
- 1 8 ounce brick cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
- 4 tablespoons butter (softened)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To Make The Chocolate Cake:
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper, leaving an extra 1-inch of parchment sticking up on both 15-inch sides of the pan so that you can easily lift the cake out and roll it up after baking. (If you’d like the parchment to stick to the bottom of the pan more easily, sprinkle a little bit of water on the pan and then press the parchment paper on top of it. You can also lightly mist the top of the parchment paper with cooking spray for easier cake release afterwards, although it’s not required.)
- Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, espresso powder (if using) and salt in a medium bowl until evenly combined. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and granulated sugar for 1 minute until thick. Add in the melted butter and vanilla extract, and whisk until just combined. Fold in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula, and stir together until just combined.
- Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 11 minutes, or until top of cake springs back when touched. Very carefully lift the parchment paper and cake out onto a flat (and heat-safe) surface. Then slowly, use your hands (careful, it will be hot!) to roll the cake — rolling from the short end to the short end — until it is completely rolled up. Transfer the cake roll to a wire rack, and cool until it reaches room temperature.
- While the cake is cooling, make the cream cheese filling (see below).
- Once the cake has reached room temperature, transfer the cake roll to a flat surface, and carefully it until it is flat again (or mostly flat, it’s ok if the ends curl up a bit). Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over cake, leaving a 3/4-inch border on all sides. Then carefully re-roll the cake, gently peeling away the parchment paper as you roll until you can completely remove and discard it. Tightly wrap the chocolate roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.
- Remove and unwrap the chocolate roll and transfer it to your serving dish. Lightly dust the chocolate roll on all sides with powdered sugar, if you would like. Then slice* and serve.
If you have leftovers, just re-wrap the chocolate roll in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To Make The Cream Cheese Filling:
- Whisk together cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until smooth. If the filling is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it is too thick, add a half teaspoon or two of water. (You want a medium consistency so that the filling is easy to spread, but not too warm or thin that it will ooze out of the cake when you’re rolling it up.)
Awww. I’m swooning over this chocolate roll. But ohh……….why do mine plop on me? So embarrassing when bringing to a party. Whomp. Whomp.
Made your carrot cake roll and now I’m going to try your chocolate roll. My husband loves chocolate so will let you know what he thinks of it. My pumpkin roll and carrot roll were a big hit so I’m sure this one will be a keeper too.
I made the chocolate roll today. It turned out that good that I made another one.
I love that you make the cake roll sound so easy! Can’t wait to try and make my own!
Thank you Ali. Can’t wait to try this.
Best wishes to you and Bjork in Spain.
Do you freeze them filled or rolled empty? I think I froze a filled roll once and the filling got absorbed into the cake when defrosted.
I plan on making this, but I would like to request that you make a white cake with a fresh strawberries in it. Yum! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.
Do you have a vanilla version so in the filling fruit could be added? Like strawberries.
My cake came out tough and flat — I’m assuming I did something wrong when beating the eggs. Any thoughts?
Made the chocolate cake roll and it came out very flat and tough, did I do something wrong? Have made the other two roll’s and they were to die for!!
Mine was a bit tough as well. I took the instructions literally (first time making any type of cake roll) and used a hand whisk. I don’t think I whisked the eggs enough. Next time, I’ll use a mixer.
The filling was great. The chocolate roll part didn’t quite fill the pan and also came out a little tough. Maybe next time I will make 1 1/2 times the cake part.
I wish I read the comments!!!
So I did this recipe and the chocolate cake unfortunately turned out quite dense. I see many others had this same issue. Also I noticed the cream cheese filling recipe was different. I preferred the original recipe for the Pumpkin Roll so I did it the same. Cake definitely did not rise properly and was more dry too. I think next time I will do a ½ tsp baking soda and ½ baking powder like the pumpkin roll recipe. I will also reduce the baking time by 1 to 2 minutes. Because the cake is dense now the filling seems like way too much. So hopefully next batch it will be fluffy.
Just made a carrot cake one and a chocolate one this weekend. The carrot cake was OK, but no one in our family liked the taste as well as the carrot cake recipe we use. There was no difficulty following the recipe or rolling it out. Since I did not get a reply to my question, I was lucky enough to find a jelly roll-like pan to use.
The chocolate one was a hit. I added cocoa to the icing and mixed with a hand held mixer so it was very creamy and smooth, almost mousse like. This icing recipe made a lot of icing, almost too much for the cake roll that I baked. Unless you like it very thick, you’ll probably have some left over and that’s OK if you like some mousse.
Both cake recipes resulted in moist rolls that were easy to handle, though the chocolate one took about 4-5 minutes more to cook completely in my oven. Thanks, this chocolate roll is a keeper.
I made it yesterday, and it is so delicious!!!!
Made your carrot cake roll and now I’m going to try your chocolate roll. My husband loves chocolate so will let you know what he thinks of it. My pumpkin roll and carrot roll were a big hit so I’m sure this one will a keeper too.
I found the cake to be great, but cheese filling made it too rich. I did it again with whipped cream and it was perfect. The sponge cake is perfect.
Thanks for d lovely recipe. Its a hit with my kids.
Made the chocolate roll for Thanksgiving this year. I didn’t have espresso powder, but I substituted a few tablespoons of brewed coffee and it turned out wonderfully. Super easy to make and a big hit all around.
I have made this for years and fill it with softened ice cream. Use two flavors and spread them down the long sides, then roll up. You can serve from either or both ends !
I used this recipe to make a Yule Log. The cake was perfect and handled very well after it was baked. Because I have a chocoholic in the house, I made a chocolate whipped cream filling. (1 cup 35% cream, 2-1/2 tbsp icing sugar, 2-1/2 tbsp cocoa;-whipped in the food processor until stiff peaks form).
pumpkin cake roll love it frist time to make it now want to try the red cake one with mint flavored for new years eve love you site
Made this for the family and friends last night and it was a wondeful hit. Many commented how it was a walk down memory lane for them.
So something is up with this recipe. First time resulted in undercooked thin chocolate leather. Switched to a 9×13 pan and left it in for a couple minutes longer – helped but did not get to true sponge texture. I think the eggs should be beaten until soft peaks to serve as the raising agent…this isn’t c.learly stated in the recipe. Will not make again
I went through the same thing. Something in the directions was just not right. I’ve made a pumpkin roll before, but something in this set of recipes was just not right.
Totally agree. Something is missing in this recipe. I’ve made roll cakes for almost 20 years and never had a problem with them. Not sure what the problem is with this recipe. Mine came out tough. Ended up throwing it away. So that was a waste of money. Won’t be making this recipe again.
whats the cup size you are using,is this 250 ml?
I am planning to use the cake recipe portion for my daughter’s birthday. The plan is to make two sheet cakes to cut in half and then spread a bit of ganache and strawberry ice cream. July birthdays are perfect for ice cream cake! This is my first one so I’m hoping it goes well
Tried the cake portion of the chocolate roll recipe. Turned out excellent!! Very easy. Followed the directions exactly.
Used a different recipe for the filling. Thank you for sharing. ??
Your directions contain errors, words missing and at the end you call this a pumpkin roll up cake.
I think if people are going to publish blogs and such online, they need to proofread their writing before posting online. It just makes the poster look ignorant and non professional. And do not use water to thin the frosting, use milk or coffee to give it flavor, water won’t add any flavor.
Lighten up Merry,
I hope you tried the wonderful cake, and you didn’t allow the typos to detour you.
You might want to stick with the hardbound proofread cookbook, like NYTimes, Ina Garten, etc.
Take your pick…
This recipe is a winner! It’s so easy to make and has great taste and texture. It was very smooth to roll; and when serving, it slices so cleanly. Definitely two thumbs up!
Hi! I was wondering if you have ever made a vanilla cake one? Could I use this recipe and leave out the chocolate/expresó?
I made it and it turned out amazingly delicious! I did a little twist by sprinkling some ground pistachio and my husband and my son loved it :)
These rolls look amazing. Can I make them without eggs? Can you suggest an alternative for eggs. I cannot use eggs and flax eggs because my daughter is allergic to them.
I’ve made pumpkin rolls with great succes so I know the process well. This recipe, didn’t work out for me. Although the cream cheese filling was very nice, the cake turned out extremely dense and tough after following the directions precisely. Will not be trying it again.
I am in the exact same boat. I have made the pumpkin roll many times and it is a huge hit with family and friends. This turned out dense, dry and flat. I am going to try using baking soda and baking powder like the pumpkin roll recipe and hope that makes some difference.
My chocolate Swiss roll came out PERFECT!!! It was absolute perfection and I’ve never made one before! Do you have a vanilla strawberry roll recipe by chance??!?
Simply perfect Quite easy to make and taste wonderful.
I made this it was amazing cut down on cream cheese
Sounds easier to make then the receipe I followed for a pumpkin cake I made. Will send a email when I try it
Easy to follow receipt, could have a stronger chocolate taste. Will make it again
I agree with comments that say the result was a flat and tough cake.
Delicious and so much easier than what I anticipated. Was a real hit with the family, and will put this on my rotation of simple and delicious desserts. I subbed in buttercream for the cream cheese frosting, yummy!! Thanks for the great recipes!!
New to baking
Just made it turn out really good so easy to make too, thank you.
I’m making the pumpkin and chocolate roll. Could I use the same cream cheese filling recipe for both. One calls for 6tablespoons of butter the other 4.
Great recipe! it was my first Swiss roll, but not the last! Thank you