Make Ahead

Chocolate Roll Snack Cakes

April  2, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Teresa Floyd
  • Makes 8 three-inch chocolate rolls
Author Notes

These small chocolate rolls are a slightly more sophisticated version of the original beloved Little Debbie snack cakes. My version is a fresh chocolate sponge cake, rolled up in a mascarpone vanilla bean whipped cream, then covered in a velvety dark chocolate glaze. Enjoy it as one giant cake roll or divide them up into mini sized portions. —Teresa Floyd

What You'll Need
  • For the chocolate sponge cake:
  • 2 ounces Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces hot water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
  • 5 ounces sugar, divided
  • 4 ounces egg yolks
  • 7 ounces egg whites (from about 6 large eggs)
  • cocoa powder, for dusting
  • For the mascarpone vanilla bean whipped cream and dark chocolate glaze:
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 ounce sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • 8 ounces 60% to 70% dark chocolate
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  1. For the chocolate sponge cake:
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a 17- by 11-inch baking sheet. Lightly oil the bottom and sides, line bottom with parchment paper, and lightly oil again.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, vanilla extract, and butter. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 4 ounces of sugar and egg yolks. Whip on medium-high until light pale yellow in color and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add the chocolate mixture and whip until combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix in any stray bits.
  5. In a clean large bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually, add in remaining 1 ounce sugar while continuing to whip until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, fold 1/3 of egg whites into egg yolk-chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in another third and then the last remaining third.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared baking sheet and evenly smooth it out with an offset spatula. Bake for 17 to 18 minutes. The edges of the cake will pull away slightly from the sides of the baking sheet when done.
  7. Set on a cooling rack and lightly dust entire surface with cocoa powder. Place a lightly damp kitchen towel over the cake and let cool.
  1. For the mascarpone vanilla bean whipped cream and dark chocolate glaze:
  2. To make the mascarpone vanilla bean whipped cream: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand-held mixer) whip cream, mascarpone, sugar, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds together just until stiff peaks form and filling holds its shape when spread.
  3. For the dark chocolate glaze: Combine dark chocolate, butter, and honey in a bowl and melt over a double-boiler. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. If preferred, you can place all ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute. Stir mixture, and then heat for 15-second intervals, mixing at each interval, until melted. Do not overheat or it will burn the chocolate. Glaze should be warm and fluid for glazing (not hot or it will run off of the cakes and melt the filling).
  4. To assemble the cakes: Carefully remove the cake from the pan and transfer to a flat work surface. With an offset spatula, evenly spread the filling over the entire surface. With a knife, trim off the edges of the cake. Next, cut the cake into four sections (cut in half vertically, then in half horizontally). Cut through the parchment paper to keep it attached to each cake section.
  5. Roll each section up one at a time, beginning with the longer side of each section. Carefully curl the edges up and using the parchment paper for support. Gently peel away the parchment as you roll it up. Once complete, place them in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up the filling.
  6. Neatly trim off the ends of each cake roll section and cut each section into three-inch sized portions (cutting each section in half should give you around three-inches). On a flat work surface, place a wire cooling rack over a sheet of parchment paper or foil and evenly space the cakes on the rack for glazing.
  7. Pour the fluid glaze over each snack cake until it is completely enrobed in chocolate. With an offset spatula or a fork, carefully transfer each glazed snack cake onto a plate for serving. If not serving right away, place them all onto a small baking sheet, cover lightly with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve (up to 2 days). Let them come to room temperature before eating for the softest and best experience.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kathy Wang
    Kathy Wang
  • plotto
  • Dominika Ujlaky
    Dominika Ujlaky
  • maria.kudla
  • monkeymom
Teresa Floyd is a freelance photographer, food writer, and pastry chef living in Kansas City, MO. She is the creator of Now, Forager, a pastry blog focused on seasonal pastries and desserts.

24 Reviews

EO April 2, 2021
These are delicious and (I think) fun to make -- about to embark on the 5th time. Once I added lemon zest to the mascarpone/cream and dusted the chocolate with zest, another time threw on some coloured sprinkles for kid appeal, but they are great as written. [Conversion tables are easily found on the internet and a scale is definitely an advantage.]
Kathy W. January 9, 2020
Whipped cream and marscapone combination, too much whipped cream not a good filling. Chocolate covering not crisp. it would be better to reduce butter.
R September 6, 2019
Saw the couple comments/questions about measurements. I’d like to point out that the measures are weight rather than volume, which is the best and most accurate way to measure ingredients in baking, especially in a recipe like this where the ratio of ingredients is what holds it all together. I was a bit reluctant myself when I first began using weight as the measurement in baking, so I’d like to offer this to those who haven’t tried: it’s actually much easier. I got a very good digital scale that measures in standard and metric, and using this method I breeze through recipes much faster than grabbing different measuring cups and spoons at every turn. You don’t need to do any conversions, the scale will do all the math for you ;-)
plotto January 13, 2018
I keep trying different rolled cake recipes and have failed. Should the eggs be at room temp? In advance, Thanks!
Dominika U. October 29, 2016
Just made these tonight for a Halloween gathering. They turned out wonderfully! I was worried about the cake part I used the "damp towel rolled up inside the hot cake while it cools" technique to set the roll-shape, but it probably wasn't necessary, as the cake was very soft and pliable once I started working with it. The filling is awesome - super light and just a hint of mascarpone and vanilla. The flavor of the cake by itself doesn't blow me away, but sponge cakes are usually pretty mild. It all goes together nicely. And the glaze was the perfect consistency. Not too sweet or rich, as many chocolate recipes can be. It really tastes like a little debbie snack cake. Mine looked just like the photos.
Teresa F. October 29, 2016
Happy to know that you enjoyed it, Dominika!
maria.kudla May 28, 2016
Made these for a jewelry party and they were a BIG hit. Mine were not as pretty as the pictures but when I make them again hopefully will be better. Also I added a little bit of kosher salt to the top. Just how I 'roll'. :-)
Teresa F. May 30, 2016
That's great, Maria! Love that sweet and salty combo you used.:)
monkeymom January 23, 2016
Just finished making these and they turned out very nice!!! Not as nice as the pictures because my cake cracked when trying to roll them up. But after glazing them, the cracks actually I think soak up a little extra glaze - good because you can't really see the crack and you get an extra little chocolate bonus treat. These are not very sweet - in step 4 of the cake perhaps you mean to add the extra ounce of sugar (not tablespoon) because the recipe calls for 5 ounces total. Thank you for the recipe! Roulades can be very intimidating but this was not that hard at all and I think they turn out beautifully, especially compared to other roulade recipes out there.
Teresa F. January 25, 2016
So happy to know that you enjoyed them, Monkeymom! Sounds like that extra glaze bonus made for a happy ending.:) Thank you also for the tablespoon/ounce catch. It'll be updated shortly (to be 1 ounce, not 1 tbsp). Thank you again for taking the time to share your experience. Have a wonderful day!
suzanne November 21, 2015
Looks lovely but I gave it a pass. My life is too busy to convert ounces to cups and TBSP.
Alan November 21, 2015
And yet... you took the time to be negative and complain about it. In the time it took you to you write this you could have converted it, eaten something that looks delicious, and moved on with your life.
Dork September 6, 2019
She wasn’t negative nor did she complain. I read it as a person making a statement. People must let people be people....geez!!
Atiya S. October 30, 2015
Hi Elizabeth, Thanks for your recipe. It certainly looks delicious and I would like to give it a go this weekend. But would like a clarification: does the recipe yield one cake or four logs of cake? In the photo there are four baked cakes with the filling and cut into eight. I was a little confused, and will appreciate your clarification. Thanks.
Teresa F. October 30, 2015
Hi Atiya, happy to read that you're giving it a try this weekend! This recipe makes one large 17"x11" sized jelly-roll style cake. This one large cake is then cut into four sections (see the photo above). Then, after you roll up each section, the rolls are cut into half (which gives you eight small rolls). Basically, you begin with one large cake and then divide it up into smaller ones to roll. Hope this helps, but let me know if you have any further questions. Have a great day!
Danielle October 30, 2015
Could you convert the recipe for the cake into cups/Tbs. I made it and did the conversion myself but I don't know if something was slightly off or if the pan I used was too big because the cake was sort of thin. It was light and delicious though! My husband loved them!
Teresa F. October 30, 2015
Hi Danielle, unfortunately I don't have a written-up cups/tbs version of this recipe at the moment. There are some really affordable kitchen scales out there today and are handy to have as a kitchen tool. Really glad that you made this one though. Two tips for a thicker sponge: Make sure that the yolks & whites are both whipped-up really well (separately) and take care not to overfold. These two are common culprits to thinner cakes. Good luck!
Euni K. October 29, 2015
Do you think I can pull it off doing the whipping by hand?
Teresa F. October 30, 2015
Hi Euni! You could probably whip the mascarpone filling by hand (it'll give you a great arm workout;). However, I wouldn't advise whipping the yolks or whites by hand. They need to be whipped at high speeds, for several minutes, in order to achieve maximum air incorporation. This gives the cake a taller and fluffier outcome. If you can get your hands on at least a hand-mixer that will work just fine. Good luck!
btglenn November 1, 2015
Try using an old-fashioned rotary beater -- one that cooks used to use before mixing machines became popular.
Ellie B. October 29, 2015
I'm amazed how perfectly flourific these look without flour! And wow, are they gorgeous and glistening ever so nicely (meaning I want to reach into the screen).
Teresa F. October 29, 2015
Thank you, Ellie! So glad you like them.:)
Elizabiete October 29, 2015
Is there really no flour in this recipe?!
Teresa F. October 29, 2015
Hi Elizabiete! Correct. There is no flour in this recipe. The stability of the cake relies on the air that's whipped into the yolks & whites. The small amount of cocoa powder helps as well. The outcome is a light & fluffy cake.