German Chocolate Cake Roll


Here is a terrific recipe for a German Chocolate Cake Roll. I use the same chocolate chiffon cake recipe that I use for my Buche de Noel holiday cake. However, I fill the cake roll with a delicious pastry cream mixture flavored with coconut and pecans. The cake is rolled, then finished with a homemade buttercream frosting flavored with melted imported chocolate.

I usually make this cake a day before I am going to serve it so that it has time to refrigerate to stay firm. Slice the cake on a slight diagonal with a warm knive (Place a sharp knive under hot water, then wipe clean. Do this after EACH cut.) Enjoy!


Chiffon cake

  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

German Chocolate Pastry Cream Filling

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup milk (not skim)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted coconut
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

Buttter Cream Frosting

  • 5 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut in pieces at room temperature
  • 3 ounces of melted good quality chocolate


To prepare the chocolate chiffon cake roll

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking sheet pan (with 1 inch sides) with nonstick food spray. Line with parchment paper. Spray paper with nonstick food spray. Set aside

Place the egg yolks, water, vegetable oil and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. In another bowl, place the flour, sifted cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the eggs until almost stiff. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar

Fold the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Gradually fold in the egg white mixture.

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Smooth batter with an offset spatula. Bake in the middle rack of the preheated oven until the cake is set and cake begins to pull slightly from the sides. This should take between 15 and 18 minutes.

Remove the cake and let cool. While cooling, have another piece of parchment paper laid out on a work surface. Dust it with cocoa powder.

After the cake has cooled for about 1/2 hour, loosen the sides with a paring knife. Carefully “flip” the cake onto the prepared parchment paper so the baked piece of parchment is on top. Carefully peel the parchment off of the cake.

Using the new parchment paper as a guide, carefully roll the cake roll into a cylinder. Keep cake rolled in the parchment paper (rolled up) until completely cooled – about 1 1/2 hours. By keeping the cake in the paper, you will avoid drying out the cake. Now you can start the pastry cream.


To make the German chocolate pastry cream filling

Place the 2 eggs and egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip with the wire whip attachment and slowly add the sugar. The mixture should become thick.

Slowly add the cornstarch until incorporated.

While you are doing this, heat the milk and half and half, with the vanilla extract, in a large saucepot on the stove. When it simmers, remove from heat. Slowly add to the egg mixture, beating on medium.

Place the mixture back into the saucepot and put back on the stove on medium heat.

Whisking contantly, cook the pastry cream until it thickens (see photo on right). Becareful, because once thickened, the mixture needs to be immediately transfered to a stainless mixing bowl.

Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then fold in the toasted coconut and the chopped toasted pecans. The mixture is now ready to spread on the cake roll

TIP – If the mixture seems lumpy because it cooked a little too long, whisk the mixture in the stainless bowl for several minutes to smooth and cool down. If you haven’t made pastry cream before, it can come together quicker than you think! One minute it is liquidy and the next it is thick.

Unroll the cake. Using an off set spatula, spread the filling on the cake.

Carefully reroll the cake, using the parchment paper as a guide.

Again keep the parchment around the cake and refrigerate it for one hour to harden. While the cake is in the refrigerate, begin the buttercream (You can also make the cake to this point and refrigerate it for up to one day. Be sure the cake is covered with parchment or saran wrap so it doesn’t get dry).

To make the butter cream

While the cake is is the refrigerator, start the butter cream. Place the sugar, water and cream of tartar in a heavy small sauce pot (it is best to use a stainless steel pot – aluminum made pans do not melt the sugar properly). Heat until the mixture reaches 238 degrees (the soft ball stage) You will need to use a candy thermometer for this.

White the sugar water is cooking, start whipping the 5 egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. You will want the egg yolks to become thick and light yellow. You should achieve this by the time the sugar mixture is done.

Carefully pour the hot sugar mixture into the egg yolks, beating on medium.

You are cooking the eggs with the sugar mixture and thickening the buttercream base at the same time. Keep the mixer going on medium high until the mixture is cool. The bottom of the bowl should feel cool when touched. This will take about 20 minutes.

When the mixture is cool, start adding the butter a little at a time. Once the butter has all be incorporated, add the melted but slightly cooled chocolate.

Temperature is everything with butter cream. If it mixture is still too warm, the buttercream will not be firm, but rather soupy. Take a large bowl of ice and place the butter cream bowl on top. Whisk by hand until the mixture becomes the consistency of soft frosting.

Frost the cake roll using an off set spatula. If you like, use a fork or a cake decorating comb to make a design through the buttercream.

If desired, decorate with additional toasted coconut and/or chopped pecans. You can also frost the cake smoothly and put any extra pastry cream in a pastry bag with a decorative tip. Pipe a design on the finished cake roll

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving so the buttercream frosting gets a bit soft.

Tip – To make a clean cut on the cake, place your knife under very hot water and wipe dry before making a slice. Do this between every slice. The warm knife will glide smoothly through the buttercream.



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