Chocolate Roll (a.k.a. Giant Yodel) Recipe

A velvety chocolate cake is rolled up with vanilla whipped cream and then swathed in glossy ganache.

A chocolate roll with a slice cut out on a serving plate.

Serious Eats / Yvonne Ruperti

Why This Recipe Works

  • Rolling the cake with a kitchen towel while it's still warm keeps it from cracking when cool and ready to fill.
  • Coating the roll with ganache keeps the cake moist in addition to adding flavor and richness.
  • A simple vanilla whipped cream filling balances and complements the richness of the cake and the coat of ganache.

This cake reminds me of all those childhood packaged treats such as the Devil Dog, Ring Ding, Sno Ball, FunnyBone, and of course the Yodel, which is basically a mini chocolate roll filled with a whipped vanilla cream. I was never much of a Ring Ding fan, but I could never get enough of the FunnyBones. I remember when I had braces back in high school, I'd take the bus in the afternoon to get dropped off at the orthodontist for a routine tightening—but not before my after-school hunger got the better of me and I shoved down a couple of chocolate snack cakes just before I got in the chair (without brushing).

These packaged cakes are now mostly way too sweet for my tastes, but they are fun to make at home. Plus, in larger format, even the Yodel becomes somewhat of a showpiece type of cake, making it perfect for entertaining. While many chocolate rolls begin with a sponge cake, this one is a little more moist, dense, and hefty, keeping it more in line with the texture of the Yodel. Soon after baking and before the cake cools, it gets rolled up in a towel so that the cake partially sets in a curved shape, facilitating rolling up later. For the cream filling, I decided against a cooked milk filling such as the kind found in a classic whoopie pie and chose a light whipped cream because I felt that the cake and ganache icing would be rich enough.

Rolling up the final cake takes a bit of care, and don't be tempted to fill it too much (like I did the first time), or you'll end up with a cake the size of a rolled up yoga mat. To finish it off, a slick of ganache, which in addition to adding extra chocolate flavor also helps to keep the whole thing good and moist inside. Not that it'll stick around long enough for it to dry out anyway.

October 2012

Recipe Details

Chocolate Roll (a.k.a. Giant Yodel) Recipe

Active 30 mins
Total 0 mins
Serves 8 to 10 servings

A velvety chocolate cake is rolled up with vanilla whipped cream and then swathed in glossy ganache.


For the Cake:

  • 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup (3/4 ounce) cocoa powder

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/3 cup hot water

For the Whipped Cream Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Ganache:

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 10- by 15-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Sift flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a small bowl; set aside.

  2. Place chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 15-second increments, stopping to stir with a rubber spatula until completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. Alternatively, place butter and chocolate in a large bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whip attachment, whip sugar with eggs and salt on medium-high speed until light and thick, about 5 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in chocolate mixture with rubber spatula. Fold in flour mixture and then water until just combined.

  4. Spread batter onto pan. Bake until just firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Do not overbake (see notes). Let cake cool about 10 minutes. Run knife along inside pan edge to loosen cake.

  5. Place a clean kitchen towel over cake. Starting from the short end, carefully roll cake up with towel (with parchment paper attached), Let cake rest until just cooled.

  6. For the Cream: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whip attachment, whip cream with sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until medium peak. Gently unroll cake, removing towel but leaving very end rolled to ensure a good grip. Spread cream over exposed surface of cake. Carefully re-roll cake into log, removing parchment paper as you roll up. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap to keep cake in log shape as you prepare ganache.

  7. For the Ganache: In a medium heat-proof bowl, heat chocolate with cream, stirring frequently, in microwave or over saucepan of barely simmering water until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Chill mixture until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

  8. Remove plastic wrap from cake and trim both ends of cake. Place cake on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Spoon ganache over cake. Using an offset spatula, smooth ganache over sides and ends of cake. Chill until ganache sets, about 1 hour. Slice and serve.

Special Equipment

10- by 15-inch jelly roll pan


This butter cake is more fragile than a standard sponge cake roll. To minimize breakage, avoid overbaking the cake, and fill it when it has just completely cooled (letting the cake sit for an extended amount of time wrapped up in the towel may cause breakage when unrolled). But even if some cracks occur, they can be easily spackled and hidden with the ganache.

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
547 Calories
40g Fat
38g Carbs
9g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 547
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 52%
Saturated Fat 25g 123%
Cholesterol 153mg 51%
Sodium 199mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 5g 16%
Total Sugars 19g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 125mg 10%
Iron 6mg 33%
Potassium 280mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)