Thanksgiving Desserts

Baking, Chocolate, Holiday Baking


I know this is late but I got caught up in Black Friday shopping yesterday. I know I know! I said I wouldn’t but the deals sucked me in!!

Every year my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Lou host Thanksgiving at their house. My uncle is an incredibly innovative chef. Each year there is usually a new and adventurous dish that he’ll try to make. My family always brings something, usually chocolate chip cookies, but this year my Aunt told us to do all the desserts! My mom and I both tried to bake something that intimidates us: Biscotti and Jelly Roll cake, respectively.

My mom made almond brandy biscotti and cranberry pistachio biscotti. They turned out wonderful! She said the shape didn’t come out like she wanted. She was hoping for minis, and they turned out a bit larger, but still very delicious and good crunch. Is it a rule of thumb that you know a biscotti is good if it breaks some teeth?

I attempted a chocolate jelly roll cake or a swiss cake roll/roulade/massive Ho-Ho, whatever you want to call it. I used to eat a pack of Little Debbie swiss cake rolls Monday-Friday for my entire fourth grade career. I would pick off the chocolate flakey part piece by piece (sometimes, it would come off in one large piece!), then I would unfold the roll and lick the cream out before eating the cake part. It was a process. It was also gross and weird, and I don’t know how I had the patience for it. Nowadays, when I get my hands on them, I practically swallow them whole! Also, not the most lady like way to eat them.

So anyway I did endless research on how to make a jelly roll cake. I watched videos (including this very entertaining one), compared recipes, and I was ready to get started!

The cake itself is extremely delicate. It is so thin but also easily malleable since you are able to roll it and it keeps it’s shape.

Here is the recipe for the cake I used via cooking by moonlight with my own photos.

I used a 17 1/4″ x 12 1/4″ pan.

1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1/3 cup cake flour
1/4 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. instant coffee (I subbed 2 t. vanilla and added it during the soft peaks step)
4 eggs, yolks and whites in separate bowls at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 425°.

Spray cake pan with cooking spray then line with parchment paper. I thought parchment paper and wax paper were interchangeable. FALSE! Definitely use parchment paper or spray the top of wax paper again with cooking spray. My cake had some minor tears because I didn’t read this step properly 😦


Combine all dry ingredients (cocoa powder, cake flour, salt, & baking powder) and set aside. I didn’t have cake flour but I subbed with all-purpose flour and cornstarch, a trick I learned here.

Now comes the worst part of all. Egg whites. Soft peaks. Ah I’m getting anxious just thinking about this process again. I was way too nervous doing this. I turned my beaters off and checked my egg whites every minute. So basically you separate the egg whites from the yolks and have them in two separate bowls. Ready for it? You begin to beat the egg whites. The first stage is the “frothy” stage. You get there after beating your egg whites for about 30 seconds to a minute. Then the egg whites will begin to foam up and grow right before your very eyes!

Cooking by Moonlight describes this step, In a mixer with the whisk attachment whip the egg whites until they are at soft peaks. This is also sometimes referred to as wet peaks. You will know they are ready when you remove the whisk and the egg whites form a Dairy Queen ice cream cone like curl. If they fall quickly and don’t create the curl keep going… if they stand straight up in the air… I’m sorry… start over.


I found this video really helpful in calming my egg anxiety, eggxiety if you will.

Then I moved over to the bowl of yolks and beat them together with the sugar until they began a pale yellow (takes a lot longer than you would think! Like 3-5 minutes).



Mix the dry ingredients into the bowl with the egg yolk/sugar mixture. The batter will be stiff but work through it. So, a funny thing happened when I finished this up and went back to my bowl of egg whites. They had separated and Mary had cracked! I just about started crying. They didn’t look like Dairy Queen curly cone peaks anymore! They looked sad and sea foam-y. But, per usual, my mom brought me back. She slowly mixed them with a spatula and they came back to life…kinda. We slowly folded half of the egg whites into the batter, and then the other half. It was gradual and took some time for it all to become incorporated and there were some lumps.


There were also some bubbles when we poured the batter into the pan which bothered me! But it is important not to bang the cake pan to settle the bubbles as it will only ruin all that hard work you did on those delicate and fickle egg whites.

Evenly spread the batter with a spatula into the greased and lined cake pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes. I baked my cake for the full 8 minutes, and it was spongey and sprung back to the touch.

Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Sprinkle the cake with some cocoa powder or powdered sugar. Place a tea towel over the pan and with a tight grip, flip the cake over onto the tea towel. Carefully pull off parchment paper. My mom and I had a hell of a time during this step, as the wax paper was coming off in strips! Roll the cake up with the tea towel inside. The cake will cool in this shape, giving the cake memory for when you frost it and re-roll. It will keep this shape. Cool the cake for 20 minutes.


All rolled up

While the cake is cooling, make the cream!

I used this Kraft recipe for the filling, because I liked the cream cheese/cool whip combo.

4oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup  powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups thawed Whipped topping

Mix the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth, then gently stir in cool whip.


Ta-Da! Unrolled

Once completely cool, evenly spread the filling leaving a half inch border around otherwise everything will spill out the sides! But also, remember to always be generous when it comes to frosting.


Toss that tea towel aside and get to rolling!

IMG_2727   IMG_2728 IMG_2729   IMG_2730


Finished product…almost.

Next comes the chocolate ganache glaze!

This recipe is from Cooking by the Moonlight’s same Swiss Cake Roll post.

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz (about 2/3 cup) dark or milk chocolate roughly chopped (or chocolate chips) I used 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips.

Heat the cream over medium heat until it begins to simmer. Quickly remove from heat and pour in the chocolate. Stir with a whisk until all chocolate has melted.

 IMG_2733   IMG_2735


This cake really was amazing tasting and a big hit with my family. The cream inside was very light and fluffy. The cake was rich and much denser than your run of the mill chocolate cake. I was nervous mixing recipes like this but I think the cream complemented the cake really well here.

Here are some pics of the other goodies we made!


Pumpkin Pie, of course!



Twix Cookies

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and ate plenty of delicious goodies!

2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Desserts

    1. Thank you! Yes I was very nervous about the cracking, but I think it helps to use cake flour and parchment paper. There was a bit of cracking when I transferred it from the pan to the tea cloth, but you gotta love that chocolate ganache! It covered any and all mistakes 🙂


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