Chocolate Orange Cake
The combination of orange and chocolate is one that is just incredibly luscious! If you are a fan of oranges and/or chocolate, then this is the cake for you! I honestly wasn't sure how I'd like this cake because am normally NOT a fan of chocolates that have any fruity flavors, so was a bit skeptical as I experimented with this special cake for my hubby, who is a huge fan of oranges!! Needless to say, the cake exceeded my wildest expectations, and I found myself reaching for a second slice as soon as the first one was gone! :D
This is a moist, fudgy, dense, soft cake, intensely chocolaty and with the most amazing orange flavor and aroma which comes from an actual WHOLE ORANGE which is included in the making of this cake!! My entire home had a fresh zesty aroma of oranges as this cake baked and cooled. Divine!!
To begin you will need 1 small orange - preferably the seedless kind.
Wash the orange and pierce it once right through the center from top to bottom using a skewer. Put the orange in a small pot, add enough water to immerse it and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until very soft. Drain from the water, then let it cool down slightly. Cut off the top of the orange and then cut the orange into quarters. Remove any seeds or the middle stringy bits and discard. Cut up the rest of the orange and put it in a blender or processor. Blend until smooth. Now set this mixture aside to cool completely.
Grease and line your baking pan (8"). Preheat the oven at 180 C.
Make sure ALL your ingredients are at room temperature.
Chop the chocolate and melt it with the milk. Set it aside to cool completely.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, add your softened butter and grinded sugar, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and milk and beat it in well until combined and smooth. Next add the puréed orange and beat it well. (At this point if the batter looks curdled, don't panic, it is absolutely normal. Just keep going, it will smoothe out on its own.) :))
Now add the flour/cocoa combination in three batches, mixing well after each addition. With the final addition of flour, add in the vanilla essence. Mix until just combined. Do not over-beat the batter.
Pour your batter into the prepared cake-pan and bake in your pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack. Let it cool and then frost the top (and sides too if you want) with whipped ganache (or any frosting of your choice).
HERE'S how to make the ganache.
I garnished with some home-made candied orange peel and some white chocolate curls.
How to make Candied Orange Peels
Wash and cut the top and bottom of an orange. Then cut the orange into 4 or 6 sections.
Remove the fruity flesh from the peel carefully. You can eat or use the fruit as you wish, we only need the peels for this.
Remove or trim as much of the white pith as you can. The soft white fleshy part stuck to the peel. That is normally very bitter and we don't need it so scrape off as much as you can without damaging the peel. The rest of the bitterness from the remaining pith will be removed in the blanching/boiling stage so don't worry if some is stubborn and won't come off.
Once that is done, cut the peel into strips, as thin or thick as you like. About quarter cm to half cm is good enough. Put the strips in a pan, add cold water and put it on high heat. Let it come to a boil. Turn off the heat, and drain the water. Put the peels back into the pan, again add water. Boil, drain.
Do this 3 times. This 'blanching' removes excess bitterness from the peels.
After you have repeated this the third time, rinse out the peels and drain them then rinse the pan and add three-quarter cup of sugar, and quarter cup water. Simmer on very low heat until it is a thin syrup. Add the peels and let them simmer gently for as long as possible until they become slightly translucent and soft. DO NOT STIR. If needed, just swirl them by swishing the pan but do not use a spoon to mix them in there as this will introduce sugar crystals.
Finally, remove the peels and place them on a sheet of foil or parchment paper to dry. You can use the remaining syrup for making ice tea or in orange juice. You can roll the candied peels in some sugar if you want them coated. It takes time for them to dry, overnight or up to a full day. Don't mess with them, just let them stand until they are perfectly dry. Use as needed! :)