Home FOOD Chocolate Orange Cake Recipe – An Italian in my Kitchen

Chocolate Orange Cake Recipe – An Italian in my Kitchen

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Rich and moist chocolate orange cake combines the decadent flavor of dark chocolate with the citrusy notes of fresh oranges. This flavorful layer cake is topped with a fluffy orange cream cheese frosting for a heavenly dessert that is the perfect balance of chocolate and orange! 

 

I am no stranger to adding the sweet and tangy taste of oranges to baked goods! From a simple glazed orange cake to a more indulgent Italian orange diplomat cake, the fresh taste of orange in a cake really adds a special taste.

This chocolate orange cake is one I tested and retested to get perfect! It started as a cake for Easter but it is now a cake for any special occasion. 

Dark chocolate cake layers infused with orange zest and topped with a creamy orange frosting ensures there are no crumbs left behind. It’s fancier than my chocolate orange brownies and just as much of a crowd-pleaser!

Why You’ll Love Orange Chocolate Cake

  • Chocolate and orange flavors: A fantastic combination that many people enjoy at the holidays, especially Christmastime! Try these orange streusel muffins with a chocolate chip crumb for a holiday breakfast. 
  • Moist and tender: This chocolate & orange cake is made with oil instead of butter which ensures it stays moist for days!
  • Easy and elegant: You don’t need a culinary degree to make this chocolate orange cake recipe! It’s simple to make with impressive results. 

Chocolate Orange Cake Recipe Ingredients

  • Dark chocolate: I used a quality dark chocolate bar with 53% cocoa. 
  • Eggs: You will need three large eggs and one egg yolk.
  • Granulated sugar: White sugar adds the best sweet taste.
  • Orange zest: You will need the zest from one orange. 
  • Greek yogurt: This adds moisture to the cake.
  • Vegetable oil: Any type of vegetable oil can be used, I use corn or sunflower oil. If it’s all you have, olive oil can be used but may add a different flavor. 
  • Cake flour: Cake flour or pastry flour is best for a light and tender crumb. 
  • Baking staples: Baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Orange frosting: Heavy cream, cream cheese, powdered sugar and zest from ½ an orange. 
Ingredients for the recipe.

How To Make Chocolate Orange Cake

To make the chocolate cake, first melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pot of boiling water (bain-marie) or in the microwave until melted. Cool.

Melting the chocolate in the pot.

Next, in a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and zest until light and fluffy. Add the yogurt and combine then slowly drizzle in the oil and combine until smooth.

Mixing the wet ingredients in a glass bowl.

In another medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together including flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Combine with wet ingredients then add the melted cooled chocolate and combine. 

Combing the wet and dry ingredients and mixing in the melted chocolate.

Divide evenly into the prepared cake pans and bake until baked through. Let cool completely before frosting.

Cake in the pans before and after baking.

For the frosting, in a large bowl whip cream until soft peaks appear, then add cream cheese, sugar and zest and continue to beat until thick.

The frosting in a silver bowl.

Decorate the orange chocolate cake recipe with orange slices or even chopped chocolate or chocolate curls, or if you prefer leave it plain and add a dusting of powdered sugar.

Substitutions And Variations

  • Frosting variations: Instead of the orange cream cheese frosting, use the frosting from my cake with mascarpone frosting or try a chocolate buttercream frosting or orange buttercream. 
  • Ganache: Skip the orange cream cheese frosting and drizzle with a chocolate ganache or chocolate glaze. Our dinner party guests really loved this! 
  • Garnish: Decorate the top of the cake with candied orange peels, add orange zest to the frosted cake or use grated dark chocolate. 
  • More orange flavor: Add extra orange zest to the cake and frosting or add some orange extract. 
Cake on a white cake stand and a slice on a white plate.

Tips For The Best Chocolate Orange Layer Cake

  • Zesting the orange: Be careful only to grate the top layer of the citrus peel! The white underneath the peel is bitter and will add an unpleasant taste. To zest, use a microplane or cheese grater. 
  • Make your own cake flour: Measure out one cup of all purpose flour. Remove two tablespoons of flour and replace with two tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift together.
  • Level your cake: If your cake layers have a slightly domed top (it most likely will) you can either use a cake leveler or sharp knife to cut it flat. This helps with both frosting and stacking.
  • Refrigerate or freeze cake before frosting: If you have the time this makes it easier to both level and frost. 
  • Line pans with parchment paper: This helps it remove easily from the pan! You don’t want your cake to be stuck in the pan. 
  • Avoid overbaking: This is the number one mistake that will lead to a dry cake! Your cake is done when you insert a toothpick into the center and it comes out with a few moist crumbs. 

Recipe FAQs

What type of dark chocolate is best for the cake?

Use high-quality dark chocolate with at least 50% cocoa content if you want an even more richer intense flavor then 70% cocoa content is perfect.

Why Do Chocolate And Orange Pair Well Together?

It’s a classic flavor combination, but you may wonder why. Fresh orange cuts into the rich dark chocolate flavor but it’s a bit of science as to the why behind it! When you eat chocolate it gives a cooling sensation on the tongue. That sensation is heightened by the tingly tartness of an orange flavor. It’s a natural pair! 

Can I Make This Cake Into Cupcakes?

Yes, it should make around 24 cupcakes. Line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners then make cake as directed. Full liners about ¾ the way full and bake for 15-20 minutes. 

How Do I Make Candied Orange Slices For A Garnish?

The candied orange garnish on this cake looks so beautiful! To make candied orange slices, first blanch your orange peels about 3 times to remove bitterness. Then whisk together equal amounts sugar and water, bring to a boil and add orange peels. Cook until the peels are translucent for about 45 minutes. Drain peels and then roll in sugar and dry for 4 – 5 hours on a wire rack. 

Can this cake be made in advance?

Yes, you can bake the cake a day ahead and store it covered at room temperature; frost it before serving.

How To Store Leftover Cake?

Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Store in the refrigerator up to 5 days. 

Can I Freeze Orange & Chocolate Cake? 

Yes, but only if it is unfrosted. Cool cake layers completely. Wrap in plastic wrap then foil and keep frozen for up to 2 months. 

More Favorite Chocolate Cake Recipes

A slice of cake on a white plate.

Whether you enjoy this decadent Chocolate Orange Cake dessert after a special meal or as a simple treat to brighten an ordinary day, this cake never fails to leave a lasting impression. Enjoy!

FOR THE CAKE

  • 10½ ounces dark chocolate (good quality) (semi sweet)
  • 3 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 large egg yolk (room temperature)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil (I use corn or sunflower oil)
  • 2 cups cake/pastry flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

FOR THE FROSTING

  • cups cream (heavy, whole or whipping cream with at least 30% fat content)
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 5 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½-1 tablespoon orange zest

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FOR THE CAKE

  • Melt chocolate in a bowl over a pot of boiling water (make sure bowl does not touch the water) or in the microwave, when almost melted remove from heat and stir until smooth. Let cool.

  • In a large bowl beat the eggs, sugar and zest until light and fluffy (approximately 4-5 minutes). Add both the yogurt amounts and combine then slowly drizzle in the oil and combine until smooth.

  • In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then add to yogurt mixture and combine, add the melted cooled chocolate and combine. Divide evenly into the prepared cake pans and bake for approximately 30-45 minutes (or until toothpick comes out dry or a few crumbs attached). Let cool completely before frosting.

FOR THE FROSTING

  • In a large bowl whip the cream until soft peaks appear, then add the cream cheese, sugar and zest continue to beat until thick.

  • Decorate the cake with orange slices or even chopped chocolate or chocolate curls, or if you prefer leave it plain and add a dusting of powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Make your own cake flour: Measure out one cup of all purpose flour. Remove two tablespoons of flour and replace with two tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift together.
I use a dark chocolate chocolate bar with 52% cocoa. If you want an even more richer intense flavor then 70% cocoa content is perfect.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Store in the refrigerator up to 5 days. 
 

Calories: 559kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 133mg | Sodium: 211mg | Potassium: 429mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 873IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 132mg | Iron: 4mg

Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

Updated from March 18, 2016.

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