Pumpkin Roll Cake with Chocolate Filling

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Add this mini Pumpkin Roll Cake with Chocolate Filling to your holiday dessert menu!  This is an easy, small batch recipe for a tender pumpkin cake rolled with chocolate cream cheese filling and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  A delicious dessert for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, Christmas, or any time in between!  

Slices of pumpkin roll cake

Pumpkin Roll Cake with Chocolate Filling

I think of pumpkin desserts as cross-over desserts – they work for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and everyday in between.  And I do like to enjoy them everyday in between …

So when I decided to finally take on the legendary roll cake, pumpkin was an obvious choice given the time of year.  And the fact that I could fill it with gobs of creamy chocolate frosting because pumpkin + chocolate = deliciousness.

What Is A Roll Cake

I guess they are formally called Swiss Roll cakes.  But my definition would be a sponge cake with creamy filling.

  • Sponge cake – we need a sturdy cake to withstand rolling.  The texture is tender, yet firm.  To get the firmer crumb in a sponge cake, the eggs are generally beaten for a while to incorporate air into them.  
  • Creamy filling – your choice.  I’ve seen whipped cream, cream cheese, and fruit as fillings in roll cakes

And I will say after making a few of these cakes, they are pretty easy and fun to make.  You may have seen some recipes that call for rolling the cake on dish towel, or scoring the cake to make it roll easier.  But not this cake.

I found that if you roll the cake when it just warm from the oven, it will roll, un-roll, and re-roll just fine.  

What Makes This A Mini Roll Cake

Even though we are using a small pan to bake the cake (more on that below), this Pumpkin Roll Cake with Chocolate Filling is still impressive.  Not to mention you can get quite a few slices out of it – depending on how thick you like them.

Traditionally roll cakes are made using a jelly roll pan.  A 15.5 x 10.5 inch pan with sides.  That is a little too big for this small batch baker.

Equipment For Pumpkin Roll Cake

  • Cake pan – We are using a quarter sheet baking sheet for this recipe.  This pan measures about 13×9 inches and has sides.  
  • Hand held mixer – Since this is a small batch cake recipe, a larger stand-mixer will have trouble reaching the small volume of ingredients.
  • Mixing bowls – We need two for this recipe – a small and medium.
  • Sifter – Or I use a medium sized fine mesh strainer to sift my flour and dry ingredients.  This is my preferred method because the strainer can sit on top of the mixing bowl.
  • Offset spatula – Totally optional but the offset spatula makes frosting the cake with the chocolate filling easy and gentle.
  • Measuring spoons, and cups – Usual suspects for baking.

Ingredients For Pumpkin Roll Cake

As I’m looking at the ingredient list for this pumpkin roll cake, I realize they are not overly complex.  Music to my ears!

  • Eggs – 2 eggs may seem like a lot for a mini cake.  But in this recipe, they provide structure to the cake.  The eggs are beaten until they resemble a soft whipped cream and the air that is incorporated gives the cake sponge structure.
  • Granulated sugar – I did test a version using brown sugar, and I did not care for it.  I think it added to much moisture to the cake.  So we are sticking to good ‘ol white sugar.
  • All-purpose flour – This is the only flour I’ve tested the cake with. 
  • Pure canned pumpkin – Pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.  You probably have seen it on every end-cap at every grocery store right about now!
  • Spices – We are highlighting the cake with ground cinnamon and nutmeg.  You could go straight to pumpkin pie spice if you like, but I wanted simple spice flavors to accompany the chocolate filling.
  • Vanilla extract and salt 

Chocolate Cream Cheese Filling

This may be my go-to recipe for chocolate frosting from now on.  There is a perfect balance of cream cheese and butter so one is not more pronounced than the other.  Which makes this filling super versatile as a frosting to top any cake or cupcake.

Simply put – the filling is eat-off-the-spoon worthy!

Individual slices of pumpkin chocolate cake roll

Tips For Making The Pumpkin Roll Cake

  • Preparing the baking sheet – we want a piece of parchment paper large enough to hang over at least an inch on all sides of the pan.  We want the excess when rolling the cake.
  • Bring the eggs to room temp – they will whip up better.
  • Be patient with beating the eggs – depending on your mixer it could take up to 10 minute to reach the desired consistency.  With my mixer, it took about 6 and 1/2 minutes.
  • Sift the dry ingredients – we want to make sure the cake batter is free of flour clumps, and sifted flour is easier to fold into a delicate egg mixture.
  • Roll the cake when warm – I’ll just say there is no other option here.  Rolling the cake when it is warm gives the cake ‘memory’ and when you re-roll it after adding the filling, it will go back to the roll shape easier (and free of cracks!)
  • Roll the warm cake with the parchment paper – still attached!  We need the parchment to remain on the cake at the first roll to make sure the cake doesn’t stick to itself.
  • Sweeten the filling to taste – I tend to be a little light-handed when it comes to powdered sugar in frostings.  That said, you could certainly add a tablespoon or two more of the powdered sugar if you like the filling sweeter.
Pumpkin and chocolate cake on a plate

Common Questions For Making A Mini Pumpkin Roll Cake

Can this cake recipe be doubled?

I have not tested a larger cake. It may work and would require a larger baking sheet, like a half-size baking sheet.

Will pumpkin pie filling work instead of pure canned pumpkin?

Probably not. Pumpkin pie filling has added ingredients we don’t need for this recipe. Like sugar, spices, and other ingredients that may alter the end result. Stick with pure canned pumpkin.

My eggs did not whip up fluffy. What did I do wrong?

The eggs should be at room temperature to whip up fluffy. Depending on the temperature of the eggs, the weather in and outside, or the temperature of your bowl, it may take longer to get the eggs to whip.

Why do I have to roll the cake while it is still warm?

Rolling the cake while it is warm is done for a couple of reasons: 1.) the warm cake is more pliable and will roll into the shape you want it, and 2.) once the cake has a ‘memory’ of the shape it is supposed to be, it (shouldn’t) crack when you re-roll it after filling it.

My cake cracked when I rolled it. What did I do wrong?

Did you do the first roll while the cake was still warm? Was the cake overfilled with filling? Did you bake it in/on a smaller baking sheet (a thicker cake may have the tendency to crack)? Lastly, sometimes a cake may crack even if you follow all the proper steps!

Can I fill the cake with whipped cream instead of the chocolate frosting?

Of course! In fact, any filling or frosting you prefer can work. Just keep in mind not to overfill the cake. Otherwise the cake may not re-roll without cracking, and you lose a lot of the filling out of the sides if it is overfilled.

How should I store leftovers?

I recommend refrigerating any cake that is leftover because of the chocolate cream cheese frosting.

More Pumpkin Dessert Recipes

Pumpkin cake rolll slices
Slices of pumpkin roll cake
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4.5 from 2 reviews

Pumpkin Roll Cake with Chocolate Filling

Yield: 4 Servings
Add this mini Pumpkin Roll Cake with Chocolate Filling to your holiday dessert menu!  This is an easy, small batch recipe for a tender pumpkin cake rolled with chocolate cream cheese filling and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  A delicious dessert for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, Christmas, or any time in between!  
Prep20 mins
Cook8 mins
Chill Time30 mins
Total58 mins

Ingredients

Cake

  • 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Cream Cheese Filling

  • 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar - plus more for dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line the quarter baking sheet with parchment paper so that it sticks up at least an inch on all sides of the baking sheet. To make sure the paper sits on the bottom of the baking sheet, fold the paper in the corners. Lightly grease the paper.

Cake

  • In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar. Using a hand held mixer on medium-high speed, beat the eggs until they are light, pale yellow, and the consistency of soft whipped cream. This make take 5 to 10 minutes. Add the pumpkin puree and vanilla extract and beat on medium-low speed until just combined.
  • Sprinkle 1/3 of the dry ingredients over the eggs. Using a spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients until no dry streaks remain. Repeat this two more times.
  • Pour the batter evenly into the prepared baking sheet. Gently smooth out with the spatula – making sure to get the batter even and into the corners.
  • Bake the cake for 8 to 10 minutes – a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. The cake will be spongy and springy when gently touched with your finger. Do not overbake the cake!
  • Cool the cake in the pan set on a wire cooling rack for about 2 minutes. Then, use the parchment paper to carefully lift the cake out of the pan. The cake should still be warm – almost hot – but not too hot to handle.
  • Rolling the cakewhile the cake is warm and with the parchment paper still on it – start rolling the cake at the shorter end. Set the cake roll on the wire cooling rack to cool completely. The cake needs to be rolled while it is warm so it rolls, un-rolls, and re-rolls without cracking.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Filling

  • While the cake is cooling, make the filling.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the cream cheese and butter. Using a hand held mixer beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Sprinkle the cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla extract over the cream mixture and continue to beat on medium speed until fully incorporated.
  • Turn the mixer on low and start adding the powdered sugar. I recommend adding a bit at a time so you don't spray powered sugar everywhere Beat the filling until it is smooth. Taste test after adding the 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and add more powered sugar a tablespoon at a time for a sweeter filling.

Assembling the Cake

  • Once the cake is cooled, gently un-roll it. Using an offset spatula or small spatula, spread the filling evenly onto the cake – leaving about 1/4 of an inch unfrosted around all of the edges of the cake.
  • Re-rolling the cake – re-roll the cake, and this time gently peel the parchment paper off the cake as you roll it. Wrap the filled and rolled cake in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes, or until ready to serve.
  • Dust the cake roll with powdered sugar (optional) before slicing and serving. I recommend refrigerating any leftovers because of the cream cheese in the filling. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Pumpkin – Depending on the brand, canned pumpkin can have different names, but is the same thing:  Pumpkin Puree, Pure Pumpkin, 100% Pumpkin, Organic Pure Pumpkin.  Just be sure it is not Pumpkin Pie Filling
  • Chocolate Filling – Sweeten the chocolate filling to taste.  If you prefer a sweeter filling, you can add more powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin | Butter and Bliss
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2 thoughts on “Pumpkin Roll Cake with Chocolate Filling”

  • Would the chocolate filling recipe hold inside a pumpkin bread prior to baking or do you think it will liquify if set inbetween layers during baking process

    • Hi Stella – It will most likely melt if baked in the bread. You could always use it to frost the baked bread. Or if you want a chocolate swirl in the bread, reserve part of the bread batter, add some cocoa to it, and swirl it in before baking.

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