Now is probably the time to share with you that I am on strike. Pumpkin Pie making strike. Why? I tried for years to create a pumpkin pie that could beat Costco – we even had taste tests – with my crust usually faring well but Costco winning overall. My guess is it is kind of like trying to beat Campbell’s tomato soup, it will never be the same as people’s memory food. I personally think that I accomplished that at least once, but I am not a gelatin in pie fan, so I just can’t create that same texture that people seem to love in store bought pie. I have pretty much perfected my pie crust recipe and would put it up against anyone’s, however I am not going to waste the work on something I don’t really care about. See, I got all caught up in this beating Costco at Thanksgiving challenge that I completely overlooked the fact I don’t actually like pumpkin pie. Since it is a must have for many people at Thanksgiving, that gets delegated for someone to pick up from Costco. Chocolate pumpkin roulade on the other hand is right up my alley. It combines chocolate with a light, creamy, spice filled mousse. This is something you can make ahead and freeze to be pulled out and defrosted during your party (as we did.) You could use it at any holiday party for an instant hit. This is absolutely worth the effort!
My friend Lisa’s mom used to make pumpkin roulade and she made it once. That is what got me thinking about making this. Then we came across Jacques Pepin’s chocolate roulade in Cooking at Home. It is more like flourless chocolate cake in a roll. Since I had many years of experience cutting wedding cakes and having butter cream up to my elbows I really don’t like cake, so this sounded like a perfect compromise, plus we already had our pureed pumpkin and needed to use it. We have made pumpkin mousse in the past several times that came out great and is a LOT lighter than pumpkin pie. I am ok with pumpkin pie – just not after Thanksgiving dinner. I would rather have it for breakfast afterwards. So thank Jacques for the chocolate roulade and the pumpkin cream is our own in place of his crème-Chantilly. He also uses this as the base for bûche de Noel, so you can use this for any upcoming Christmas parties. One more note – this is WAY easier than it looks. I was pleasantly surprised at how easily this came together.
Chocolate Pumpkin Roulade
Chocolate Roulade Ingredients
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for pan
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, in small pieces
7 egg whites, room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder, plus more for garnish
Pumpkin Cream Ingredients
1 pint whipped cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. Butter an 11-by-17-inch jelly-roll pan or a 12-by-17 1/2-inch sheet pan, and line with parchment paper. If you butter half of the parchment and fold it in half then cut a one inch slit in the non-fold corners, you will have a perfect pan liner every time!
In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup cream to a simmer. Add chocolate, reduce heat, and whisk until chocolate is melted. As soon as mixture is a uniform dark color, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl and using a hand mixer, whip egg whites and 2 tablespoons sugar to stiff, glossy peaks, about 1 1/2 minutes.
Whisk one-quarter of the egg-white mixture into the chocolate mixture.
Gently fold chocolate mixture back into the original egg-white mixture, and mix until smooth and well combined.
Pour batter into the prepared pan, and spread it in an even layer with a rubber spatula.
Bake until cake is set and puffy, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Lift parchment paper to remove cake from pan, and set it on work surface with long side facing edge of table. Using a fine-mesh sieve, lightly dust cake with cocoa powder.
Make the pumpkin cream. Whip the cream with vanilla and sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in pumpkin puree and remaining spices until just combined. Spread a layer over the cake leaving at least an inch boarder.
Roll the cake lengthwise, starting at a point 2 to 3 inches over the pumpkin cream. Roll cake another few inches, pressing against parchment paper to make a tight spiral. Gently peel parchment paper off as cake layer rolls away.
Complete the roll, stopping at the far edge of the parchment paper.
Tuck the loose parchment paper around and underneath the cylinder so it is well wrapped and can be moved easily.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours. (You can also freeze the roulade wrapped in the parchment and a layer of plastic wrap.)
When ready to serve, transfer roulade to serving platter. Remove parchment paper, gently rolling cake into center of platter, with seam on bottom. (If roll has slumped or twisted, lay a piece of plastic over top and sides, and reshape with hands.) With a sharp knife, trim both ends of roll crosswise or on a diagonal. Dust top with confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder, and garnish with seasonal fruit. To serve, cut the roll into 1-inch-thick slices, and lay flat on dessert plates.
Please excuse the last photo, I forgot to take a final picture, so this is after being frozen, cut and refrozen and picked at. It was much prettier the day of, especially with a dollop of whipped cream! One of our guests said “I think Jacques would approve of the pumpkin cream.” I think I would have proudly served it to him if I was fortunate enough to host him!