Have you noticed that I seem to rotate back and forth between savory and sweet moods.
I realized this week that it had unintentionally become the norm for me to lean towards sweets more often than not. At least, that’s how it was for a while and it was especially that way during the Holidays. Then for some reason I’ve been in more of a savory mood so far this year. It’s probably all the talk about a fresh new year and starting out healthy. I don’t know.
Whatever the case, I’ve definitely had an easier time coming up with ideas for salty snacks and fun new dinners than I’ve had dreaming up new treats and desserts. Don’t worry though, because chocolate can always find a place in my plans and, in my opinion, one of the best forms to devour chocolate in is cake!
By the way, to say that cake is going to be on my mind a bit for the next two to three weeks is an understatement. I mean, I already mentioned recently that I’ll be making a wedding cake for a friend’s wedding soon, but then there are also two other birthdays as well around the same time, not to mention that after that my family literally has birthdays every few weeks.
Hey, can you guys can keep a secret? ‘Cause I might give you a little inside scoop to the design the bride and I talked about over the weekend. I met with the her this past Sunday and the first thing I wanted to know was whether or not she wanted to go modern or traditional, and as I expected, she said traditional is more her taste, however she also wanted the groom to be happy about the cake and when we asked him about it he loved the idea of a non-traditional cake with some unique personal touches. The final decision is that I’ll be doing a split sided cake; his side and her side.
For a little bit more specifics, they’re both fans of Playstation and some of his favorite things are The Walking Dead, wrestling, and soccer (no surprise here, this one is pretty much a mandatory favorite in Latin America). I’m just saying, the groom’s half is going to be fun and probably a little challenging too, but I’m excited about doing it even if I am slightly freaking out. On her side she wants a simple and elegant base of white buttercream with a cascade of natural flowers diagonally across it all the way down. It’s going to be so lovely. Oh, and she also wants a few of her own personal touches to be included as she loves music, books, and trees, but for it to just be really feminine was her main request.
Yeah, so I’ve got my work cut out for me. Oh my goodness, my family is joking that I’m not going to sleep at all this month and the truth is that I can’t say they’re wrong. Good thing I love to be busy. Alright, but today’s cake is actually a recipe that I created for this weekend since it’s my boyfriend’s birthday and it’s the flavor he wanted. When he said chocolate orange cake sounded good and I realized that it’s a flavor I’ve never done for the blog I knew it had to be one I shared with you.
Speaking of guy’s tastes versus girl’s, I have to tell you, this flavor combo is one that makes me want to laugh a little. You see, I was raised by a dad who was always trying to convince me that, with the possible exception of berry pie, fruit in dessert is just not acceptable and then fruit with chocolate is even more outrageous. My mom on the other hand, has always been a lover of fruity sweets which has been the source of a few very entertaining debates between the two of them over the years. Super funny.
I happen to love orange and chocolate together and if you are also a fan then I’m thinking this cake is for you. I couldn’t resist the urge to add a little something more though, so Nutella found its way into the recipe and I think it adds that perfect little touch that might have been missing. I’ll be making this cake again for a pretty big group this weekend and if you try it too, I’d love to know what you think!
- 5 egg whites
- 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup of milk mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup oil
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
- 1 orange, juice and zest
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temp
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon strong black coffee
- 1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C) and grease 3 8-in cake pans with oil. Pour egg whites into bowl of stand mixer and beat until they form stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar together until creamed. Add the oil, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract, cocoa, and buttermilk and mix until combined, then add the nutella and flour and stir until smooth. Add about 1 cup of the stiff egg whites to the mixture and stir well to loosen it up a bit. Now gently fold in the rest of the stiff egg whites to the batter just until evenly combined. (You want to try not to lose your volume by over mixing.)
- Divide batter into the 3 pans as evenly as possible and nudge them a bit to level and prevent air bubbles. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow cakes to cool for about 10 minutes then loosen the edges with a sharp knife and invert the pans over plates to remove the cakes from pan. Cover them with plastic wrap to help keep them from drying out as they cool. The cakes need to cool completely before frosting so I like to place them in the refrigerator or freezer to chill until cold.
- Juice and zest orange and discard remaining peels. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a medium saucepan until light and frothy then slowly pour in the orange juice and then milk while whisking. Stir in the cornstarch, zest, and salt and place over medium low heat. Stir constantly until the curd gets thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, it should take 8 - 10 minutes. It will foam a bit as it boils. Remove from heat and add the cream cheese and vanilla and stir until the cream cheese is evenly melted in, then pour through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl or small container. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and allow it to cool a bit, then place in refrigerator to chill completely.
- Beat butter in a large mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment until creamed. Add nutella, vanilla, salt, cocoa, and powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add the orange juice and coffee and beat until light and fluffy.
- Once the cakes and filling are completely cooled, remove the cake from the fridge and use a toothpick or thin skewer to poke some holes (about 12 to 15) in the top of all of the cakes (this helps them to absorb a little bit more of the orange filling to make the cakes really moist). Now spread a thin layer of the chocolate frosting on the top of all 3 layers until smooth. Fill a medium-size round-tipped piping bag with some of the frosting and pipe a border around the edge of 2 of the cakes (this acts as a wall to keep the orange filling from oozing out.).
- Now spoon about half (you may have more than needed) of the orange filling over each of the 2 cakes and spread to even it out. Layer one on top of the other on your desired serving plate and top with the third cake. Spoon a generous amount of the frosting onto the top of the cake and start spreading on the top and sides of cake to make a smooth coating. (If you like a lot of frosting and want to add more it helps to chill the cake for about an hour and then add a second coat. After frosting it you can add any decorations or embellishments that you want. I chose to simply top mine with some orange slices and use a cake comb to add a ridge look on the sides. This cake is best stored in the fridge or in a cool place until ready to serve.