Chocolate Roulade with Burnt Sugar Italian Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Roulade (swiss roll) with Burnt Sugar Buttercream filling | via

Sometimes accidents are happy accidents.

And such was the case when I burnt the sugar for my Italian Meringue buttercream filling for my Chocolate Roulade.

As the sugar slowly climbed to temperature I turned my attention away for a mere moment to begin beating the egg white, and when I turned back the sugar had gone beyond temperature and turned golden and a lovely aroma of caramelised sugar surrounded me. Instead of throwing the sugar out and starting again, I thought I’d try a burnt sugar buttercream and see how it turned out. And it was delicious!

While I’d originally intended to fill my chocolate roulade, or swiss roll, with a chocolate Italian meringue buttercream, I think the burnt sugar version was better. The burnt sugar is a lovely contrast to the light and fluffy chocolate cake that surrounds.

Chocolate Roulade (swiss roll) with Burnt Sugar Buttercream filling | via

5.0 from 4 reviews
Chocolate Roulade with Burnt Sugar Italian Meringue Buttercream
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8
  • 3 large eggs
  • 80g (3oz) light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 60g (1/2 cup) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 15g (2 tbs) cocoa, plus extra for dusting
  • pinch of salt
  • 60g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tsp golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 extra large egg white
  • 60g (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 celsius (350 Fahrenheit) and grease and line a 22cm x 33cm (9 x 13 inch) swiss roll tin with baking paper.
  2. Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until the mixture is extremely pale and creamy, around 5 minutes.
  3. Add the oil and milk and gently fold through with a metal spoon or spatula. Sift in the flour, cocoa and salt and fold through gently, being careful not to knock too much air out of the whisked eggs.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and tilt to distribute evenly. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cake has shrunk back a little from the sides and springs back when touched.
  5. While the cake is in the oven dust baking paper with cocoa and when the cake is done remove from the oven and immediately turn out onto the cocoa dusted baking paper. Remove the baking paper from the back of the cake and immediately, beginning at the narrow end of the cake, roll into a tight roll. Place on a wire cooling rack, seam side down, to cool completely.
  6. To make the Italian buttercream place the sugar, golden syrup and water in a saucepan and mix until well combined. Use a pastry brush to dislodge any stray grains of sugar that have stuck to the side of the saucepan before placing over a high heat. Bring to a rapid boil and add a candy thermometer. Do not stir! Cook until the mixture reaches 160 celsius (320 Fahrenheit) and remove from the heat.
  7. Place the egg white in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk to soft peaks. With the mixer running, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the bowl, being careful not to touch the whisk, and continue whisking until the mixture cools, around 5 to 10 minutes. Add the butter, one third at a time, and whip until fully incorporated.
  8. Carefully unroll the cake and spread the buttercream over the chocolate roulade and re-roll. Lightly dust with extra cocoa.



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  1. Laura (Tutti Dolci) May 27, 2013  3:18 pm Reply

    This is the most gorgeous roulade I've ever seen. I love the burnt sugar buttercream, what a happy accident!

    • Jennifer May 27, 2013  6:46 pm Reply

      Wow, thanks Laura. That's high praise coming from you :)

  2. Rosa May 27, 2013  3:45 pm Reply

    Your roulade looks amazing and must taste divine! That first click is lovely.



    • Jennifer May 27, 2013  6:45 pm Reply

      Thanks Rosa. I was really pleased with how the first photo turned out. :)

  3. Diana May 27, 2013  4:05 pm Reply

    Looks beautiful, delicious and elegant -
    Recipe and photos are great, Diana

  4. Anna May 27, 2013  4:50 pm Reply

    You mean 350 Fahrenheit.

    • Jennifer May 27, 2013  6:48 pm Reply

      Indeed I do. Thanks for picking that up Anna. :) I've corrected the recipe.

  5. Gourmet Getaways May 27, 2013  5:54 pm Reply

    What a magnificent looking roulade! So spectacular, I would love to dive right in :)

    • Jennifer May 27, 2013  6:44 pm Reply

      Thanks Julie :D I can tell you it didn't last long.

  6. jehanne@thecookingdoctor May 27, 2013  6:37 pm Reply

    I am terrible at making SMB, I must try my hands at ur italian meringue in hope of better results! They roulade looks gorgeous!

    • Jennifer May 27, 2013  6:44 pm Reply

      Hi Jehanne,

      I hope it works for you. The key is to be patient, and not to add the butter too early as it will melt and turn the buttercream into a soupy mixture. However, if this happens, don't panic. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes to an hour and whisk again.

      Let me know how it turns out.

  7. Thanh @ eat, little bird May 27, 2013  11:12 pm Reply

    Oh I've always wanted to try and make a roulade! And now you have inspired me to try very soon :-) I know they are called "Swiss Rolls" back in Australia but the funny thing is that they are not so common in Switzerland! And what a nice "accident" to have - if only my kitchen accidents had happier endings.

    • Jennifer May 28, 2013  7:22 am Reply

      Me too :) I'd always thought roulades were difficult and prone to cracking, which my first one did. But I found rolling it while hot and adding some oil to the batter helped immensely.

      As for the sugar, I really wasn't sure it would work, but was so surprised when it did. By the way, not all my accidents end in happy endings. In fact, most don't. ;)

  8. jehanne@thecookingdoctor May 27, 2013  11:17 pm Reply

    Hi jennifer, thanks a lot for the tip! yes mine always tend to curdle up and became so soupy, I am so gonna try your recipe, will let u know definitely how it turns out :-) x

    • Jennifer May 28, 2013  7:24 am Reply

      Thanks Jehanne. :) By the way, make sure you beat the egg white for a full 10 minutes, to allow the mixture to cool before adding the butter. I set a timer on my phone for this and wash the saucepan in which I cooked the sugar while this happens.

  9. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef May 28, 2013  12:09 am Reply

    That would have to be one of my favourite cakes of the year! I'm looking forward to making this when my sister gets here. :)

    • Jennifer May 28, 2013  7:24 am Reply

      Wow, thanks Maureen. You made my day!

  10. thelittleloaf May 28, 2013  10:27 pm Reply

    Burnt sugar buttercream sounds divine! And your roulade is picture perfect - I have to try this soon.

  11. Simone May 29, 2013  4:33 pm Reply

    That looks to die for! I love burned butter so I'm guessing that burned buttercream must be fantastic!

  12. Helene D'souza May 29, 2013  8:35 pm Reply

    Ah that reminds me of the story of the nuns in france when they discovered the mini doughnut like round treats. My mum knows the story better. Long story short a piece of flour fell into the hot oil and cooked it. They tried it out and created a new dish. Accidents happen and luckily they do at times, otherwise we wouldn't have been presented with your gorgeous roulade today!

    • Jennifer May 30, 2013  9:21 am Reply

      I never knew that about doughnuts. Thanks for sharing Helene :)

  13. Kankana May 30, 2013  4:32 am Reply

    It's in my wish list to try baking a roulade but I am so intimated with the thought that I would break it as I roll it! Your recipe is to die for and trust me my mouth is watering so bad that I had to get up and bit a tiny piece of chocolate to feel better. Gosh! This looks absolutely stunning girl!

    • Jennifer May 30, 2013  9:23 am Reply

      Kankana, I've found that rolling it while it's still hot helps immensely. :)

  14. Cookin Canuck May 30, 2013  1:50 pm Reply

    What a beautiful dessert! There's definitely something to be said for happy kitchen accidents.

  15. Kiran @ June 3, 2013  5:52 pm Reply

    Ohmygod! Everything about this roulade reminds me of what we used to enjoy while growing up! And the styling is so so beautiful :)

  16. Daisy@Nevertoosweet June 4, 2013  2:15 pm Reply

    Ohh love the styling it's so pretty :) Great recipe : I haven't heard of burnt sugar but tempted to try hehe!

  17. Blue123 June 9, 2013  2:47 am Reply


    Your cake looks lovely! Just a couple of questions.
    1. Ive seen some other swiss roll recipes, and they say to first beat the egg whites and the yolks separately, and then fold in the egg whites to the yolk cream. I see you don't do that for your recipe - would you be able to let me know what difference it would make?
    2. Can I add nutella with roasted hazelnut filling instead of the meringue? Would that be too rich?

    Thank you!

    • Jennifer June 9, 2013  9:16 am Reply

      Hi there, I've only made swiss rolls using the all in one method, not beating the egg whites and yolks separately. This method is much quicker and easier. As for the nutella, you could certainly add that to the filling, although it might be a little rich. Perhaps you could try adding some nutella to whipped cream instead.

      I'd love to hear how it turns out. :)

  18. Blue123 June 9, 2013  1:02 pm Reply

    Thanks for the suggestion. I replaced the filling with Nutella and added whipped cre and it was delicious . However my crake cracked so rolling it was a mess! :( I took out the cake once baked and let it cool, then flipped it over. While flipping it, it broke at the ends...and while rolling it cracked further. Do you know what I could do next time to prevent this? Do you think rolling it as soon as it comes out of the oven, as you suggest, will help?

    • Jennifer June 9, 2013  2:40 pm Reply

      I've found rolling it while hot prevents cracking completely. Perhaps you can give that a try next time :)


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