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Elderberry Jam Rouladee with Maple-Chocolate FrostingAs I am a dedicated member of the segment of society known as chocoholics, the We Should Cocoa challenge that is hosted by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog is one of my favourite blogging events. I also enjoy surprises and am an adventurous baker who likes to try new recipes, so the format of Belleau Kitchen’s Random Recipes challenge, where you choose a recipe to make by opening a random cookbook to a random page, particularly suits me.

A Slice of Maple-Chocolate RouladeUnderstandably, I was delighted to hear that Choclette and Dom of Belleau Kitchen were teaming up to have a chocolate Random Recipes challenge this month. When I started thinking about all the dozens of chocolate recipes lurking in my stash of cookbooks, I was so excited that I immediately dropped everything and ran down to the kitchen to pick out my recipe.

jointlogoI have the names of all my cookbooks written out on slips of paper, and I jumble them up on a table and then pick one out with my eyes closed whenever I’m doing Random Recipes.

When I looked at the slip in my hand, I was disappointed to find that I had drawn one of my Foods of the World cookbooks, American Cooking: New England. Now don’t misunderstand, I love Time-Life’s Foods of the World series. In fact, I consider them my favourite cookbooks and part of the reason why I ended up following a culinary path. However, for this particular challenge, it wasn’t a very inspiring pick. There were only four chocolate recipes in the book.

Prep for Maple-Chocolate RouladeI picked the bûche de Noel. How boring, I thought. I’ve made dozens of rolled sponge cakes.

Whipping egg whites for rouladeAnd then I took a closer look at the recipe, and realized that I actually hadn’t done so badly. The cake was frosted with chocolate-maple buttercream (Italian meringue-style, with whipped egg whites and hot syrup). I had never tried anything like that before, and it sounded perfectly divine.

Local Elderberry JamThe cake was also supposed to be filled with crabapple jelly. I diligently searched the shelves of my hometown’s Pennsylvania Dutch market, figuring that if any place would have this commodity, it would. No luck.  However, they did have a local elderberry jam, which seemed like an appropriate substitute.

Spreading the roulade with elderberry jamElderberries, like crabapples, are one of those fruits that used to be common, but have become a bit of a rarity these days. I had never tasted elderberries before, and was keen to give the jam a go.

Elderberry Jam Roulade Ready for FrostingThe berries make a dark, strong-flavoured jam with a good amount of tartness. The closest parallel I can cite is lingonberries, which have a similar “woodsy” flavour, that allows the jam to cross over from the sweet to the savory side of the kitchen. I think elderberry jam would go very nicely with a lamb roast or chops.

Frosted Maple-Chocolate RouladeBut it also matched well with the flavour of the maple-chocolate frosting, which was as marvelous as I had hoped. I don’t use chocolate and maple together enough; the pairing is delicious.

Maple-Chocolate Roulade with Elderberry FillingThe cake itself, which called for a bit of cornstarch, some vanilla extract, and the unique addition of several tablespoons of cold water, was one of the most enjoyable sponge cakes that I’ve ever made. And to think that I was disappointed when I first drew the recipe.

Shop Local Mosaic

As I used the local elderberry jam (you can find it here, if you’re interested in trying elderberries), I am also submitting this recipe to the Shop Local challenge at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.

Maple-Chocolate Roulade with Elderberry Jam FillingMaple-Chocolate Roulade with Elderberry Jam

Adapted from Time-Life’s American Cooking: New England


For the sponge cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cold water
For the maple-chocolate frosting:
2 egg whites
¾ cup maple syrup
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces
¾ cup elderberry jam
Cocoa powder for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 10 ½-by-15 ½-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Grease and flour both the paper and the sides of the pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, and baking powder for the cake and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the 4 egg whites on high speed until frothy. Gradually beat in ½ cup of the sugar and continue mixing until stiff peaks form. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.
  4. Now place the egg yolks in the bowl of the stand mixer (you don’t have to bother washing the bowl and whisk), along with the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the cold water. Beat until the mixture is pale yellow and thick enough to hold a trail for a few seconds when dropped from the whisk.
  5. Add the vanilla, and then beat in the sifted flour mixture on low speed, adding it a few tablespoons at a time.
  6. Stir a dollop of the whipped egg whites into the batter to lighten it, and then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites with a rubber spatula.
  7. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and place it in the oven.
  8. Bake until the sides of the cake are pulling away from the pan and the center of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, 18-20 minutes.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately flip it out of the pan onto a piece of wax paper. Peel away the piece of parchment paper from the bottom of the cake.
  10. Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes, and then trim off the edges. (They are always crisper than the rest of the cake, so removing them makes rolling up the cake a little easier.)
  11. Spread the elderberry jam in a thin layer across the still-warm cake and then, starting at one of the long edges, roll the cake into a tight cylinder. Set aside to cool.
  12. To make the frosting, pour the maple syrup into a medium-sized saucepan and cook over medium heat until a small amount dropped in ice water forms a soft ball, 238°F on a candy thermometer.
  13. When the syrup has almost reached the required temperature, place the 2 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and beat until they are frothy and increased in volume.
  14. Once the syrup has reached the soft ball stage, quickly stir in the chopped chocolate. Turn the mixer onto high speed, and carefully pour the hot syrup into the egg whites in a thin stream.
  15. Continue whipping until the mixture has cooled to room temperature and then beat in the butter, a few pieces at a time.
  16. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake and dust the top with cocoa powder.
  17. Cut into slices and serve.

Yield: 16 servings