Search the Site

GF Ho-Hos

GF Ho-Hos

Gluten Free Ho HosIf the chocolate topping don’t crack and peel off, that there ain’t no Ho-Ho/Yodel/Swiss Roll. A ganache it’s not.

The filling can’t be too heavy. Or too sweet. Or too thick. Or too thin. Or too runny. It’s not custard-like patisserie cream. Not buttercream, either. No way. Plain whipped cream won’t get you where we’re goin’.

The cake has to be chocolately, moist and flavorful, but not too rich. This … is no brownie.

I tried every possible permutation. Sometimes, the simplest things are the hardest to get just right. And if it’s not right … it’s just wrong. There’s no in between.

These are so right. And here’s how it’s done.

The cake is simple enough. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt) with the chocolate mixture (chopped chocolate, butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs and water).

Pour the batter into a (USA Pans) quarter sheet pan (about 9 x 13 inches) greased and lined with wax paper, and shake it to even out the batter. Then smack it on the counter to pop the air bubbles.

Bake for 8 minutes, and check. Bake 2 minutes more if needed for the cake to be just firm to the touch. Turn the cake out immediately (while still hot from the oven) onto a piece of wax paper dusted with confectioner’s sugar and peel back the (now top) layer of wax paper. Slice the cake in half across the width and remove one half to another piece of wax paper, also dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Fold the bottom sheet of wax paper over onto the top of the cake.

Starting at a short side and rolling as tightly as you can, roll away from you.

Place the roll, seam side down, on a wire rack to cool completely. Working quickly, repeat with the remaining half cake.

While the cakes are cooling, whip the cream with some sugar until soft peaks form (like this).

Mix the powdered gelatin with cool water, and then microwave the mixture until it is liquid, like this.

Add the gelatin mixture to the whipped cream, and blend until thickened, like this.

Carefully unroll one cooled cake, and remove any wax paper adhered to the top. As you unroll the cake, it will remember where it was and stay kinda bendy, but it will crack, almost for sure. It’s really okay. Some of mine cracked. I just took photos of the prettiest ones. That’s part of the Food Blogger Creed. Don’t think that all mine were perfect — but they sure looked pretty by the end…

Spread the cream filling with a small offset spatula in an even layer about 1/4 inch thick. You won’t use all the filling. That’s not really a big problem, when you think about it. Roll ’em back up, and cover the whole roll tightly with plastic wrap. Repeat with the other cake, and place both in the refrigerator to chill.

Melt the simple chocolate topping.

Gluten Free Ho HosOnce the rolls are firm (doesn’t take long), unwrap them and slice each into 4 equal pieces in cross-section. Like this.

Gluten Free Ho Hos

Then dip in the chocolate topping, and allow it to harden. Kinda like Magic Shell (remember that stuff?).

GF Ho-Hos
Recipe Type: Snack Cake
Author: Nicole @Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.com
Prep time: 50 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 8
Gluten-free individual cream-filled chocolate roll cakes
  • 1/2 cup (70 grams) all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Better Batter)
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if using Better Batter)
  • 1 tablespoon (5 grams) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • dash (1/8 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (divided)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, beaten
  • 6 tablespoons warm water (plus more, if necessary)
  • 1 packet (1 scant tablespoon) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cool water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 3 tablespoons nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
  1. Grease a quarter sheet pan well with unsalted butter. Line with a sheet a wax paper, and grease the paper with unsalted butter, and set the pan aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, and whisk to combine well.
  3. In a separate large, microwave-safe bowl, place 3 ounces of chopped chocolate and the butter. Microwave on 50% power for 45 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until the chocolate and butter are melted and smooth. Allow to cool briefly. Add the granulated sugar and vanilla, and mix well. Add the eggs and water, and mix until well-combined. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture (see photo), and mix until well-combined. The batter should be pourable. If it seems too thick, thin it with another tablespoon or two of water.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and shake from side to side and back and forth to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Smack the bottom of the pan against the counter to burst the air bubbles, and place it in the center of the preheated oven.
  5. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cake is just set and is firm to the touch. Check at 8 minutes, and watch carefully.
  6. While the cake is in the oven, place two large pieces of wax paper (or 2 tea towels) flat on the counter side by side and sprinkle both generously with powdered sugar. As soon as the cake is removed from the oven (before it has had a chance to cool at all), turn it out onto one sheet of wax paper (or one tea towel) and remove the pan. Carefully pull back what is now the top layer of wax paper and discard it. Cut the cake in half width-wise (see photo). Remove one half of the cake to the other sheet of wax paper.
  7. Working quickly, dust the top of one half cake with more powdered sugar, and, starting at a short end, begin to roll the cake away from you as tightly as possible (see photo). Gently squeeze the cake with your hands to secure it as rolled. Place the roll, seam side down, still wrapped in wax paper on a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining half cake.
  8. While the cakes are cooling, make the filling. In a small microwave safe bowl, place the contents of the packet of powdered gelatin and the 1/4 cup water, and mix to combine. Allow to sit for a few moments until the gelatin swells. It will be lumpy. Microwave the gelatin mixture for 30 seconds, stir (see photo) and set it aside.
  9. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream and 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar on high until soft peaks form (see photo). add the slightly cooled gelatin mixture, and whisk again on high until the mixture has thickened (see photo again). Place the filling in the refrigerator to chill while the cakes finish cooling.
  10. Once the cakes have cooled completely, gently unroll one cake and peel back any wax paper that has adhered to the top of the cake. The cake will almost certainly have cracked in various places, and it’s fine. Spread an even layer of filling about 1/4 inch thick over the entire surface of the cake, spreading it more thinly as you reach the edges. Reroll the cake tightly, and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining cake. Place both rolls in the refrigerator to chill. You will have left over filling — not a particularly troubling problem.
  11. While waiting for the rolls to chill, make the chocolate topping. In a medium-sized microwave safe bowl, place the remaining 5 ounces of chopped chocolate and the 3 tablespoons of shortening. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat for 45 seconds at 50% power. Stir the mixture, and heat again for 45 seconds at 50% power. Stir and repeat if necessary until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  12. Remove one chocolate roll from the refrigerator and unwrap and discard the plastic wrap. With a very sharp knife, slice the roll into four equal pieces by cross-section. Dip the tops and sides of each roll in the melted chocolate mixture, and place each roll on clean parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining chocolate roll from the refrigerator. Allow the rolls to sit until the chocolate sets – either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. The chocolate coating will seal the rolls, and they will last at least at least a day or so on the counter, or a few days in the refrigerator.

This recipe can be easily doubled. For all the trouble, if I were you — I’d double it. Just be sure to divide the cake batter between two quarter sheet pans and bake each separately in the oven (to ensure even baking). If you try to bake the whole cake in a larger, half sheet pan (and I speak here from very recent and unsettling personal experience), it will be too difficult to handle effectively. Trust me. If you double the batter, you won’t need to double the filling, but you will need to double the topping.
These are a bit of trouble, but not too much and they are entirely worth it. They’re as good as you remember – and even better still.



P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up a copy of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy! Without your support, I can’t keep the blog going!

Comments are closed.

  • Lisa
    December 30, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    Oh GF Master of all … I have failed you… I made these last night, but I became confused about the direction in which to cut and roll (I get confused easily and since my Master’s Degree is not in architecture or math) I cut and rolled the cakes in the wrong direction and ended up with large “Buche De Noel” style rolls. Hey, when I mess up, it’s go big or go home!! So, channeling my inner GFOAS diva, I sliced one roll into ‘Ding Dong’ size slices, covered these with the chocolate, and I have pinwheel ‘ding dong’s.. Still yummy beyond all belief!!! Now, the other roll sits in my refrigerator, waiting to be covered completely in chocolate to be a “Buche De Noel” for a New Years Eve Party… and no one will know it’s GF! Next time I will do better :)!! Thank you for all you do and the yumminess you share!!!

    • Peggy
      December 30, 2011 at 3:06 PM

      Lisa, love your save! Great idea for a party! No need to tell anyone how you got such an awesome tasting dessert…when I printed out the recipe I made a note to self to try your save! Thanks.

    • Nicole
      December 30, 2011 at 3:13 PM

      Hi, Lisa,
      I love the pinwheel ding dongs. How perfect! Seriously, that sounds a whole lot easier and less time-consuming. I wish I had thought of it myself in the first instance… The cake tastes so good that all my “fails” where the cake was too thick and cracked ended up being eaten down to the smallest of crumbs. No one cared. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Catherine
    December 28, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    Ummm… So a pan that’s about 12″ X 17″ won’t work? Wow, these seem just so worth the effort! Thanks so much, Nicole!

    • Nicole
      December 28, 2011 at 4:10 PM

      Hi, Catherine,
      12 by 17 inches is about the size of a half sheet pan. It will work to bake the cake (you’d use only 1 pan – not two), and you’d be able to make it in a larger chocolate swiss roll, but it won’t work if you want to make individual rolls. The cake is too thick to roll once it’s sliced into individual rectangles. I know this from personal, and painful, experience in the kitchen. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

    • December 28, 2011 at 7:38 PM

      Oh, man, these remind me of childhood ;) :) I shared the link on my Facebook page. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :) :)

  • Christa
    December 27, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    My eyes are salivating. I will try these …before my January diet ! Very creative by the way. Who can say not to a Ho-Ho?

    • Nicole
      December 27, 2011 at 3:56 PM

      Hi, Christa,
      I can’t say no to a Ho-Ho. That’s for sure. Not that anyone is offering me one, but if they were — I’d not refuse. Now … or in January!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Lisa @ GF Canteen
    December 27, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    I could kiss you for putting weights in the recipe!!! I just happen to have a quarter sheet pan… These are going to be our new year’s treat. Once upon a time I used to hoard these things in the freezer. You know what else I love? That your recipes work. Every. Single. Time. And I don’t have to do anything except follow your directions. I’m happy.

    • Nicole
      December 27, 2011 at 11:52 AM

      ::blushing:: that means a lot coming from you, Lisa. Thank you.
      You know, I’ve been baking by weight for such a long time, especially when it comes to flour, but I only started to share that info recently. I didn’t want anyone to feel like they had to bake by weight, since it can seem intimidating if you’re not used to it (even though, ultimately, it’s much, much easier). I think most of us who bake often know that it’s easier, but it still isn’t fully integrated in the U.S. into the zeitgeist. So I’m hedging wimping out by including both volume and weight. So glad you’re happy!
      xoxo Nicole

  • JoAnn C
    December 27, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    Hi there,

    Panettone, wonderful! Ho-Ho’s will put me in a coma. But what a coma it will be. I will try these soon, probably on a very snowy day when all there is to do is shovel snow and eat chocolate. Not that I need an excuse to eat chocolate… It almost makes me wish for snow. Almost.

    • Nicole
      December 27, 2011 at 11:50 AM

      Oh, JoAnn, you and your chocolate. You’re such an easy chocolate sell. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Pamela G
    December 27, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    OMG…now you’re not only the BEST…but the BESTEST of BEST….have to set up the assembly line soon….

    • Nicole
      December 27, 2011 at 11:50 AM

      An assembly line is perfect for these, Pam!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Kerry
    December 27, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    I want to eat these, but I am still in my lazy post holiday funk, so it may take a while for me to get around to it!!

    • Nicole
      December 27, 2011 at 10:12 AM

      I hear you, Kerry. Put it in the files :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Kadren
    December 27, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    I’m afraid I almost got teary eyed this morning. :) Our oldest was tested back 4.5 years ago when she was 3.5. The only thing I could buy premade at the store for her were Fritos Corn chips. This was before Facebook and Blogs. I was on my own!! Thankfully I love to cook/bake! Her mimi (french for grandma) would always share a package of these with Amelia before we knew she couldn’t have them. Amelia remembers sharing those and “big, big, big soft pretzels” with her mimi. (Mimi has since passed away.) I just think it is so very awesome that I can make Amelia something that she remembers sharing with her mimi. Amelia was only 4.5 when she died, so the memories are kind of scarce. Thank you!! As soon as the dishes are done, we will be getting them dirty again!!!!! (And I will definitely be doubling this! With three little girls who love chocolate, it would be so very silly not too.) ;) Hugs!

    • Nicole
      December 27, 2011 at 10:14 AM

      I’m so glad, Kadren! Food is so nostalgic, isn’t it? The taste, the smell, the whole ritual. You can’t beat it. So glad this helps!
      xoxo Nicole

  • chris
    December 27, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    You are my husband’s unsung hero! He misses all the fun foods that the kids still get to eat. These will make him happy…..temporarily :) Love you Nicole, keep up the good fight! Hope you had a great Christmas <3

    • Nicole
      December 27, 2011 at 10:12 AM

      Tell your husband that we’ve only just begun, Chris. :) So glad he can join in on the fun…
      xoxo Nicole

  • Tracy Kline-Heusinkveld on Facebook
    December 27, 2011 at 9:06 AM

    Might havevto make these…soon.

  • Michelle Dunton Olejar on Facebook
    December 27, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    I am SOOOO making these! Your pumpkin roll was the biggest hit with my little ones and I have been hoping for a chocolate version. :) I am so not creative

Back to Top