For my niece Sarah, who loves this roulage and asks me to make it for her for every holiday.
Back many years ago, there was a Birmingham restaurant called Cobb Lane located on a quaint cobblestone alley. Owned and operated by a woman named Virginia Cobb and featuring Southern specialties like Chicken Supreme, Chicken Divan, She-Crab soup, and homemade yeast rolls, many of us celebrated our special occasions there. Birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers and most often, bridal showers and bridesmaids luncheons were held there and always ended with Mrs. Cobb's famous Chocolate Roulage. My own bridesmaids' luncheon was there, and of course, we had Roulage for dessert.
I have made this recipe for years so when I was tossed a curveball on Food Network Star and found no ice cream freezer on set that day, I made the roulage instead of the chocolate cake and ice cream I originally intended to make for the judges. Happily, it won rave reviews and with a little help from my teammate Justin Warner, I got it onto the plates in the nick of time. Be sure to chill it properly before slicing so it holds together.
Make this roulage for Christmas Eve and it will become one of your family traditions. PS-I normally omit the bourbon when I make this recipe for the family.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes plus 30 minutes cool time and chill 2 hours before serving
Softened unsalted butter, for greasing baking sheet and parchment paper
5 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon espresso or strong, black coffee
5 egg whites
1 cup cocoa powder
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons Confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup bourbon (optional)
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Trim a sheet of parchment paper to fit a half-sheet pan or baking sheet. Make sure there is at least 1" excess all the way around after you fit it to the pan.
FOR THE CAKE: Butter the baking sheet, including the sides and corners. Line with the parchment paper and smooth it with your hands. Pull the paper up and flip it so both sides are now buttered.
Fit a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium speed until fluffy and the sugar is not gritty, about 10-12 minutes.
While the eggs are beating, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof glass bowl and melt it over a double boiler. When chocolate is melted, remove from heat, let it cool a bit. Sit the bowl in some cool water for a few minutes, if necessary.
Incorporate the egg mixture into the slightly warm chocolate by adding a little at a time to temper the mixture, so you don't cook the eggs. Add vanilla and espresso.
In a clean bowl, and using a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Incorporate 1/4 of egg whites into the chocolate mixture by carefully folding the whites into the chocolate, taking care not to deflate the whites. Fold the remaining whites into the chocolate but make sure not to have any white streaks in the batter nor deflate the whites.
Spread the batter into the prepared pan bake at 325° for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread a dampened tea towel or several dampened paper towels over the top of the cake and let it sit for 30 minutes. Change out the towels if they dry out.
FOR THE FILLING: While the cake is cooling, whip the cream in a clean bowl using the whip attachment. Whip the cream, Confectioners’ sugar, bourbon, vanilla bean and vanilla on medium speed until stiff peaks form. (Bourbon and vanilla bean is optional)
TO ASSEMBLE: Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake. Using a fine sieve or sifter, sprinkle ½ cup of cocoa powder over the top of the cake. Spread the whipped cream mixture over the top, leaving 1 inch on each side. Rolling lengthwise, use the edge of the parchment paper, carefully roll the cake creating a jellyroll effect, tuck and roll as you go, peeling back the paper along the way. Put the rolled cake seam side down and very lightly dust the whole cake with the remaining cocoa powder. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. You might even put the cake in the freezer for an hour before serving so it is easy to slice.
To serve, slice cake with a serrated knife and place on chilled plates. Garnish with a light dusting of cocoa powder and fresh berries.
Yield: 1 roulage, about 8 slices