Chocolate Orange Cake – a citrus layer cake recipe infused with orange zest and orange syrup, topped with silky chocolate frosting and candied orange slices. By our contributor, Olivia Bogacki.
Happy New Year everyone! You’ve survived through the first bit of January, what I consider to be the most challenging time of the year. Coming off a holiday high and getting back to the real world is not fun and I, for one, am having a hard time letting go of the holiday season. Nevertheless, it’s time to move on from gingerbread, peppermint, and eggnog, and take advantage of the delicious citrus fruits that are now in season.
I can never get enough of citrus in desserts. Whether it’s pies, tarts, cakes, or cookies, there something about that sweet/tart combo that is just irresistible.
This month I’m coming to you with one of my favorite flavor combinations in this Chocolate Orange Cake! I like to think of this cake as kind of bridging the gap between the holidays and the new year. Branching out into citrus territory while incorporating some holiday nostalgia. Some of you may be familiar with Terry’s Chocolate Orange, which is very popular around the holidays. That classic chocolate orange combination was my inspiration for this month’s cake.
The layers of this cake are infused with orange juice, zest, and brushed with an orange simple syrup to enhance the flavor. The silky chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream is a perfect compliment to the delicate citrus cake. The taste is heavenly and both of the flavors really stand out.
I chose to decorate this Chocolate Orange cake with a simple swirl and some candied orange slices. I love the rustic elegance it gives the cake. I sliced my oranges a bit too thick so they were a little hard to work with, so I recommend slicing them thinner if you attempt this.
If you’re as big a fan of the chocolate orange combination as I am, this cake will surely not disappoint!
CHOCOLATE ORANGE CAKE
a recipe by Olivia Bogacki
(makes one 8” 2-layer cake – 12 servings)
For the Orange Cake:
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs (room temperature)
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
¾ cup milk (room temperature)
1 teaspoon orange zest ( approx. 1 orange)
¼ cup fresh squeezed orange juice (approx. ½ an orange)
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease and flour two 8″ cake rounds, line with parchment.
- In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and orange zest and beat on med-high until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
- Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla.
- Alternate adding flour mixture with milk & orange juice, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk & orange juice). Fully incorporating after each addition.
- Spread batter evenly into prepared pans. Smooth the tops with a spatula.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
- Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10 minutes then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.
For the Candied Orange Slices:
3 medium oranges (washed, dried, and sliced into thin, even slices)*
3 cups water
3 cups granulated sugar
- Place sugar and water into a large shallow saucepan, stir and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Carefully add orange slices one at a time. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 45 minutes (stirring occasionally) or until the orange slices are translucent.
- Carefully remove with tongs and place on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Cool for 20 minutes then place in fridge to cool completely. Store, layered with wax paper, in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
- Reserve ½ cup of the orange sugar syrup.
* I sliced mine into 1/8” slices, but I think thinner slices would make them easier to work with. Reduce cooking time to approximately 35 minutes if opting for thinner slices.
For the Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
5 large egg whites
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, cubed (room temperature)
8 ounces dark chocolate (chopped, melted, cooled)
- Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer*, whisk until combined.
- Place bowl over a pan of simmering water to create a double-boiler. Whisking constantly, heat the egg mixture until it registers 160 degrees on candy thermometer. Carefully transfer the bowl onto the stand mixer.
- Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes until the bowl is no longer warm to the touch and the meringue is fluffy, glossy and holds a stiff peak.
- Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, slowly add cubed butter and mix until incorporated.
- Add melted chocolate and whip on medium-high until silky and smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.**
* Ensure there is NO trace of egg yolks in your whites and that your mixer bowl and whisk are completely grease free or your meringue may not whip up.
** The buttercream may look like it’s curdled at some point. Keep mixing until it is completely smooth.
For the Assembly:
- Place one layer of cake onto a cake stand or serving plate. Brush with reserved orange sugar syrup, if desired. Top with approximately 1 cup of buttercream and spread evenly.
- Repeat with remaining layer and crumb coat the cake. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Frost the cake, smooth the sides and top. Do a swirl pattern on the cake by holding a spatula against the cake and rotating the turntable.
- Place back in the fridge for 20 minutes to set.
- Gently press candied orange slices into the sides. Use any extra frosting to add rosettes to the top if desired.