Chocolate Peanut Brittle Swiss Roll

So if you remember my last post, you’ll recall that my daughter and I made peanut brittle just for kicks, and it was delicious. That being said, while the batch seemed reasonably-sized at the time, and we even gave away half of it to friends, there was still a rather generous amount of brittle left over after a day or two of snacking. My daughter– being mine and therefore prone to ideas like this– decided that we needed to use it up by making a cake. Of course.

While I’m usually happy to make a standard layer cake, I’m currently planning the menu for our upcoming holiday party, which will hopefully be fabulous since we had to skip last year’s due to COVID. As a dessert centerpiece, I’m going to make a Buche de Noel– I made one about six years ago but didn’t get photos of the process, and sadly have completely misplaced the recipe I used, so it’s time to try out another one! I wanted to make it a chocolate cake, and have been vacillating between a few different recipes, so this was the perfect opportunity to try one out.

This one is from Martha Stewart, and while I haven’t used her recipes very often I thought it looked reasonably good. Also it included flour, which I preferred over a flourless roulade just because it’s sturdier, and did not call for separating eggs, which i find to be a pain.

The cake itself went together easily, though I found a scary number of flour pockets in my batter despite folding it pretty thoroughly in the bowl (or so I thought). Next time I’ll sift the flour over the egg mixture instead of just spooning it in, just to keep things more evenly distributed. I will note that while the recipes called for letting the cake cool for a while before rolling it up in the sugared tea towel (a crucial step to help the rolling process), I did mine hot from the pan. It did make the towel slightly damp, but it worked out just fine.

Chocolate Peanut Brittle Swiss Roll

Cake

  • 2/3 cup sifted flour (76g)
  • 1/3 cup sifted cocoa powder (38g)
  • pinch baking soda
  • 4 tbs. clarified unsalted butter, melted (or start with 5 tbs. and follow these instructions)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar (150g)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Prepare jelly roll pan or rimmed 11×17 baking sheet by greasing it, lining with parchment, and greasing again.
  • Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda and set aside.
  • In a heatproof bowl (I used my stand mixer bowl), whisk together eggs and sugar. Continue whisking over a pot of simmering water until eggs are warm and sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Remove from heat and beat on high speed with an electric mixer or stand mixer with whisk, until very pale, thick, and tripled in volume.
  • Pour in vanilla extract and whisk on medium speed for 2 more minutes.
  • Sift dry ingredients over eggs in three installments, folding thoroughly between each installment. *Very thoroughly, getting right to the bottom of the bowl!*
  • While folding the last installment of dry ingredients, drizzle clarified butter over batter and continue to fold until completely incorporated. The batter will likely be very pale until you add the butter, which allows the cocoa to spread through the batter more smoothly. Again, make sure you don’t have any flour pockets in your batter!
  • Spread batter into prepared pan and bake until center springs back when gently pressed. My 11×17 pan took 10 minutes, but if you’re using a jelly roll pan it may take up to 15. Check frequently– you don’t want to overbake!
  • While cake is baking, lay a clean tea towel on the counter and generously dust with powdered sugar.
  • When the cake comes out of the oven, give it a minute or two and then generously dust the top with powdered sugar. Invert onto your towel (just go for it, faster is better!).
  • Peel off parchment and dust the bottom of the cake with more powdered sugar. Using the towel, roll up the cake into a tight roll from the short end, and set the rolled cake on a cooling rack, seam side down. Let cool completely.
  • When ready to fill, gently unroll cake (doesn’t have to be all the way).

Peanut Butter Cream Filling (from Food52)

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tbs. sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip together peanut butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add vanilla and salt and continue to whip, then gradually pour in cream until mixture forms medium-stiff peaks.

Ganache Topping:

  • 4 oz heavy cream
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • Heat cream in the microwave until just simmering.
  • Pour over chocolate, let it sit for a minute or two, then stir until smooth and glossy. Let cool until thickened– it’ll probably be thick enough once it’s at room temperature. If not, chill.

To Assemble:

  • Spread peanut butter filling gently over mostly-unrolled cake, using a small spatula to get it into the innermost curve of the roll.
  • Using the tea towel to keep things compressed, roll up the cake as tightly as you can and set it, seam-side down, on a plate. Chill for at least an hour to set.
  • Unwrap roll and move to serving platter. Pour room temperature glaze over chilled cake, and garnish with peanut brittle if desired. Chill at least another 30 minutes before serving.

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