Heat oven to 375.
Grease a 15x10x1 baking or jelly roll pan.
Line it with a waxed paper rectangle cut 1/2 inch smaller than the pan (14×9).
Grease the paper.
Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl or onto another sheet of waxed paper.
In a mixer or in a bowl, by hand, beat eggs yolks and vanilla until thick and yellow.
Add the 1/4 c sugar and beat on high until dissolved.
Set the mixture aside in a clean bowl.
Wash the mixer bowl and beaters.
Beat the egg whites on medium until soft peaks form.
Add the 1/2 cup sugar slowly and beat until stiff peaks form.
Fold the egg yolk mixture into the beaten egg white mixture quickly with the mixer or with a spatula.
Quickly, but gently, by the quarter cup, alternate adding in the flour mixture and the water, just incorporating with a spatula.
Spread batter into the pan as evenly as possible and smooth as much as possible with a flat spoon or icing spreader.
Bake 12-15 minutes until centre springs back when pressed lightly with a fingertip.
While the cake is baking, dust a large clean tea towel generously with icing sugar.
Remove baked cake from oven and immediately loosen edges of the cake from the side of the pan with a knife. [The cake may look a bit bubbly or even mountainous! No worries! It will flatten out with the folding, anyway!]
While the cake is still warm, invert the pan onto the clean towel dusted generously with icing sugar.
Peel off waxed paper.
Gently roll the wider length of cake jelly roll style in towel. You want a long slim roll, not a short, thick one.
Cool rolled and wrapped cake completely on a wire rack. [You can store the cake like this for up to one day or re-roll the cake in wax paper, wrap wax-paper-rolled cake in foil and freeze for 2-3 weeks.]
While the cake is cooling, prepare the Optional Boozy Soak, the Cannoli Cream Filling and the Chocolate Mascarpone Icing. You may also prepare the Make-Ahead Mushrooms, if desired, if you haven't done so already.
Gently unroll the cake.
Using a pastry or basting-style brush, spread the Boozy Soak generously onto the [inside] surface of the roll cake. [I only use about 1/16 of a cup of the syrup.]
Spread the inside/top surface of the unrolled cake with the Cannoli Cream Filling.
Gently re-roll the cake.
Cut a 1/2in-or-thicker slice from the ends of the cake roll to use as knots on the cake. If you just want a festive jelly roll, move on to step 26.
Place the larger rolled cake on a serving plate.
Use Chocolate Mascarpone Icing to attach the "knots" to the cake roll.
[Optional] Take a small bit of icing and “dirty ice” the cake with a thin layer of icing and let cake sit in the refrigerator for a while.
Frost cake roll with remaining Chocolate Mascarpone Icing. You do not have to ice the open ends and open knots of the cake. This is a bit tricky, but can be done with a clean icing spreader.
If desired, use the tines of a fork or an icing spatula to make the icing look like realistic “bark.”
If desired, sprinkle the ends of the roll and/or the knots/limbs with chopped pistachios, or flaked or toasted coconut.
If desired, dust with icing sugar.
If desired, decorate with Meringue Mushrooms.
Chill until 10-20 minutes before serving time.