Savta’s chocolate roll

4 Oct

Savta was the epitome of a Jewish grandmother.

Every meal had to be a three or four or five course meal. And then we’d have to coax her out of the kitchen to get her to stop cooking/cleaning and come sit down to enjoy the meal with her family.

What we remember her most for, though, is her baking. Let me tell you–this woman could bake! Apples cake, sponge cake, chocolate cake, chiffon cake, cream cake, chocolate nut cake, and chocolate roll–my personal favorite.

There is something so simple to chocolate roll, a plain sponge cake filled with a layer of chocolate/coffee. But there is something delicious in the simplicity–in the way both the cake and the chocolate melt in your mouth, in the way the supple coffee flavor melds with the chocolate, in the way you always have to lick the sponge cake off your sticky fingers.

But I had never tried my hand at chocolate roll, intimidated by the rolled cake and Savta’s imposing legacy.

Until Rosh Hashanah this year, when I decided that my craving for the cake superseded my nerves.

And it was a stunning success! Not only was the cake delicious, but it tasted exactly like my grandmother’s version of the cake.

Chocolate roll may not be the most sophisticated dessert, but it’s a good one! And it will be one that I plan to make for many years to come.


  • Filling:
  • 5 cubes semi-sweet baker’s chocolate
  • 1 stick sweet butter
  • 3 t sugar
  • 1 t instant coffee
  • 2 T Kahlua or similar liquor
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Cake:
  • 4 eggs (separate yolks and whites)
  • 1 c sugar (divided)
  • 2 T oil
  • 4 T orange juice
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 pinch cream of tartar
Making the Filling
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Beat 2 egg yolks. Set aside.
3. In a double boiler (or over low heat in a conventional sauce pan with a few tsp of water), melt together first 4 ingredients of filling (chocolate through coffee).
4. Remove from heat and add two beaten egg yolks (from step 1) and liquor
5. Set aside and let cool, stirring occasionally
Preparing the Batter
6. Generously oil a jellyroll pan (or a smaller baking dish if need be, but be sure to use less cake and fillings). Take a large sheet of wax paper that overhangs the edges and line the pan. Reverse the wax paper so that now both sides have been oiled. Spray the upward facing side with non-stick cooking spray.
7. In a large bowl, mix 4 egg yolks (set egg whites aside in a medium-large bowl), 1/2 c sugar, and a dash of salt–blend well.
8. Add 2 T oil and 4 T oil to egg yolk mixture.
9. In a separate bowl, stir together 1 c flour with 1 t baking soda, and mix into egg yolk mixture until fully blended.
10. Now turn to your 4 egg whites. Add a pinch of cream of tartar to egg whites, begin beating. Then add 1/2 c sugar. Beat well until stiff but not dry.
11. Gently fold egg whites into yolk mixture, and gently pour batter into pan–using a spoon or spatula to coax into corners.
12. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Be careful not to over or under cook, since this will cause the cake to stick or crack.
Forming and Assembling the Roll

13. Remove pan from oven, fold wax paper ends out of the way, and upend pan onto a dish towel.
14. Gently peel the wax paper off the cake.
15. Roll the cake and dishtowel into a loose, lengthwise cake and let cool. The photo to the left is with the filling, but your roll should look more or less like this, with a dishtowel around the outside and in place of the chocolate.
16. Allow roll to cool for approx 30 minutes. Remember to keep stirring your chocolate filling occasionally.
17. After completed cooled, gently unroll enough so that the towel can be removed, being careful not to break the cake.
18. Spread the chocolate filling as evenly as possible on the inside of the roll.
19. Re-roll the cake, wrapping the outside in wax paper and aluminum foil.
20. Chill cake in refrigerator until ready to cut and serve. Having a cool cake will make it easier to cut, and will make for a clean cut.

One Response to “Savta’s chocolate roll”

  1. Nikki October 5, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    Looks great! Can’t wait to try this!

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