Chocolate Orange Cake

Monday, July 18, 2022
Tag: dessert
A watercolor illustration of a slice of chocolate orange cake. There's a layer of chocolate glaze on top with a yellow-y orange cake. There are shapes with black outlines within the cake signifying spongy-ness. Chocolate is writen on top in orange, orange is written below in brown, and cake is written beside orange in purple. It's sitting on an outline of a plate in blue.

inspired by New York Times Cooking

Ingredients

Cake

Glaze

Directions

  1. Place the clementines (whole, unpeeled!) in a large pot, cover them with water (well, as much as you can - mine pretty much floated), and bring them to a boil over high.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and let them simmer for 2 hours.
  3. Remove clementines with a slotted spoon and let them cool until you can actually handle them.
  4. Slice them in half, throw out any hard bits (seeds, the little button things, etc.) and throw them in a food processor.
  5. Blend until you have a nice puree. At this point, you could put it in the fridge for a couple of days or just move on to the next step.
  6. Turn the oven on to 350F.
  7. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with the cooking oil, line the bottom with parchment paper, and spray the paper (I know this seems silly. The circle doesn’t even have to be the exact size as the bottom, but having something there helps).
  8. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, and clementine puree.
  9. Add the almond flour and baking powder and stir with a spatula until combined.
  10. Pour into pan and bake until edges are golden brown and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. I would start checking at 45 minutes and look again every 5 minutes.
  11. Once it’s ready, transfer to a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.
  12. Take a knife and run it around the edge of the pan. Really! This will make your cake have a cleaner edge. (How do I know? I did not do this and I had a messy edge :( ).
  13. Take the sides off the springform pan (or, as I like to call it, release the kraken).
  14. Place another wire rack on top and flip your cake over so you can peel away the paper on the bottom.
  15. Cool completely.
  16. Before you start the glaze, make sure you have a metal or glass mixing bowl that will fit nicely above a small pot without touching the bottom.
  17. Once the cake is cool, start boiling a bit of water in the small pot.
  18. Put all the ingredients for the glaze into the mixing bowl you found.
  19. Place the mixing bowl over your now simmering water and stir gently until almost all the chocolate is melted. This may take around 5 minutes but it’s really all about how much is melted.
  20. Once you notice almost everything is melted, take it off the heat and continue stirring occasionally. The goal is to get the chocolate somewhere between 88-90F so your attention and a thermometer are both needed during this time.
  21. When the perfect temperature is achieved, pour the glaze on the center of the cake and let it run down the sides. I find a silicone spatula helpful here to both get every drop out of the bowl and gently nudge the glaze over the sides. The original recipe suggests tapping the cooling rack to encourage coating but I didn’t try it - maybe it’ll work for you.
  22. Let it sit an hour before serving. It’ll be fine living on the counter, though it won’t last very long!

Thoughts

I know the whole “boiling oranges for two hours” thing and a glaze that requires a thermometer makes it seem like this is a lot of work, but overall it really is easy. Trey like’s to poke fun at me for how often I say a recipe is easy when he thinks it sounds complicated (this is usually after he compliments me on it because I don’t know how to take a compliment). But to me, any baked good that doesn’t require specific levels on a stand-mixer and/or mixing something of a certain amount of time feels easy to me. The actual ingredients for the cake are quite straight forward - it’s mostly oranges, nuts, and egg.

Also, this is delicious. It’s essentially the cake version of my famous winter-holiday-only fudge. Maybe this is why it feels like a good winter cake. I made it recently to use up some clementines that were languishing and I enjoyed the hell out of it, but it seems like it would be really satisfying in colder weather.

The original recipe suggest candying clementine slices which felt like a bonus upon first reading- another use for the clementines and I’ve never candied something before! However, this was a total failure. I accidentally made it into caramel and burnt most of the orange slices. This is what I get for following the directions exactly as written with no use of personal judgment. Honestly, I’m not sure the cake needs them. The chocolate ganache is enough of a topping to feel fancy and bring a little sweetness into what I found to be a slightly bitter cake on its own. This likely depends on the citrus, though. If the cake ends up being sweet, I’d probably go with a more bitter chocolate for the ganache. I could also see using less sugar in the cake itself, as that’s something I like to play with in recipes. If I can get away with using less sugar, why not?