This Chocolate Orange Cake is rich, flavorful and simply beautiful! This cake would be an elegant and delicious finale to any holiday meal!
After I shared the recipe for Candied Orange Peel earlier this week, I wanted to follow up with an idea for using that delicious candied peel. This Chocolate Orange Cake balances rich chocolate with the sweet, bright notes of orange.
I thought the elegant pairing of chocolate and orange deserved a special presentation too, so I turned a 9″x 9″ cake into a rectangle, just for something a bit different. The smaller scale of this cake is perfect for a small dinner party, or anytime you don’t need a huge cake.
This cake starts with my favorite Chocolate Cake Recipe, simply scaled down. The cake is fluffy and moist, with a rich chocolate flavor. As the cake cools, I brushed the top of the cake with Grand Marnier orange liqueur. This step is optional, but adds a nice depth of flavor. The filling is where the orange flavor comes in again, with a simple, creamy, orange buttercream. Finally, the cake is covered in a classic chocolate ganache and gets dressed up with the pretty Candied Orange Peel.
If you’d like to give this recipe a try without the additional steps of making the candied orange peel, I might suggest adding a bit of Grand Marnier (1-2 teaspoons) or orange extract (1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) to the chocolate ganache. For a pretty garnish you could add some chocolate curls or a thin piece of fresh orange peel.
How to Make Chocolate Orange Cake
Chocolate Orange Cake
- Chocolate Cake
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons flour additional
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup hot water or hot coffee
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier optional, but delicious
- 3 tablespoons butter salted or unsalted, at room temperature
- 2 oz cream cheese 1/4 of a package, or use an additional 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure orange extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- orange food coloring - optional
- 4 oz semi sweet chocolate or 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- Candied Orange Peel - for garnish
Make the cake
- Pre-heat oven to 350*F. Line a 9"x 9" cake pan with a piece of parchment paper, leaving a bit of an overhang (so you can pull out the cake after it's baked). Lightly butter the two sides of the pan not covered by parchment.
- In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add egg and whisk to combine, then add milk, oil and vanilla and stir well.
- Add hot water (or hot coffee) and blend until fully incorporated. The batter will be very thin, this is right.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 22-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake come out clean.
- While the cake cools, use a pastry brush to brush the top of the cake with the Grand Marnier.
Make the frosting
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the soften butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until fully combined.
- While mixing, slowly add powdered sugar, then extracts. Add a drop of orange food coloring, if desired. Blend until smooth. You may need to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides.
Make the ganache
- Chop chocolate, or use good quality chocolate chips, and add to a medium bowl.
- Heat cream in the microwave until hot, but do not let it boil.
- Pour hot cream over chocolate and allow it to sit, undisturbed 1-2 minutes.
- Stir until smooth, then move to the fridge to firm up a bit.
Assemble the cake
- Remove (fully) cooled cake from the pan by pulling up on the exposed parchment paper. Place cake on a cutting board. Cut cake in half, so that you have two 4.5" x 9" rectangle pieces.
- Move one of the pieces of cake to a wire cooling rack with a baking sheet under it (this will be needed shortly, when frosting with ganache).
- Spread the orange frosting onto the cake (on the cooling rack), using an offset spatula. Top with the second piece of cake.
- Check on the ganache, it should be thickened slightly, but still pour-able. Pour some of the ganache onto the cake and use an offset spatula to spread it down the sides of the cake. Once the cake is covered with a thin layer of ganache, move the entire cake (on the rack) to the freezer for 5-10 minutes to allow the ganache to set up a bit.
- Once the first layer of ganache has set, use 2 large spatulas to move the cake to a serving platter of your choice. Pour a second layer of ganache over the cake. You will need to experiment with how thick or thin you want the ganache. You can chill it in the fridge to thicken, or microwave (on 50% power) for short periods to thin it. For my cake the top layer of ganache was thick enough that I was able to add some texture to the very top of the cake with an offset spatula (spreading from side to side).
- Garish generously with Candied Orange Peel.