Sometimes all you want is a taste of something sweet and decadent. And when it comes to that something, there are few treats out there quite as satisfying as chocolate oranges.
Prepare to indulge, because we’re going to show you how to make one of our favorite desserts: Chocolate Orange Cake. This cake is worth treating yourself at least once in your life — so go ahead and do just that! For this recipe, we turned to the French pastry chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten for inspiration. His signature square cake gets topped with a layer of chocolate ganache (“malted” milk chocolate), and finished off with an orange custard crumb. The simple combination is masterfully executed, but the real star is that supremely indulgent dessert. (Un)fortunately, this recipe won’t be fooling anybody into thinking it’s healthier than it actually is. But, hey, what are you going to do?
The trickiest part of making this cake is keeping the layers in place during baking to prevent them from rising and collapsing. To do this, you’ll need to use cake strips. If you have never heard of cake strips, they are long pieces of cloth that wrap around the outside of a cake tin. The edges are folded over and then held in place by clips while the cake bakes. Cake strips prevent a crust from forming on the outer layers by keeping heat even throughout the cooking process.
Chocolate Orange Cake
Recipe by Jean-Georges Vongerichten
For the Cake:
4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
2 ounces unsweetened cocoa powder (about 1/4 cup) – we recommend Valrhona cocoa powder, which has a slightly richer flavor and more colour than other brands. It’s available online at Amazon or Whole Foods. If you can’t find it, use the best quality cocoa powder that you can afford. A good alternative to buying Valrhona cocoa is to make your own using our recipe below!
1/2 teaspoon baking soda – you can find this at any grocery store right next to baking soda.
4 ounces brown sugar (about 1/2 cup, packed) – light brown sugar works best in this recipe – try to find a brand with a stronger molasses flavour. This will result in a richer finish. “Dark” brown sugar is not recommended for this.
4 ounces granulated white sugar (about 1/2 cup, tightly packed)
1 large egg, lightly beaten – use regular eggs from the market as opposed to “large” eggs or extra-large eggs. These are typically larger and contain more yolk, and the ratio of that yolk to the amount of white is important for this recipe.
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly – if you want to make your own butter after churning the cream yourself, this can be substituted with 7 ounces of ghee. Ghee is clarified butter with all dairy proteins removed and is considered a “pure” fat.
2 ounces water (about 1/4 cup, warm) – use room-temperature water. In order to make room-temperature egg yolks, you’ll need to beat the egg yolks first. If you beat them too long or too fast, they can become lumpy and won’t be able to set properly.
½ teaspoon vanilla extract – if you can’t find pure vanilla extract, use vanilla paste instead. You can get it online at Amazon.com or at Whole Foods.
For the Chocolate Ganache:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate (about 1 cup) – use a higher quality brand of chocolate, preferably Valrhona. For best results, use Valrhona Cocoa Powder. If you can’t find Valrhona Cocoa Powder at a grocery store near you, feel free to substitute an equivalent amount of your favourite brand of cocoa powder for this recipe. Vlongerichten’s was made with Valrhona Cocoa Powder.
1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half (250 mL, or 1/4 pint) – use regular full-fat cream as opposed to “light” or “low-fat” liquid cream. For best results, do not use “ultra-pasteurized” full-fat cream or any fat other than butter.
For the Orange Custard:
7 ounces egg yolks (about 2 large) – make sure to give them a good whisk before beginning! When ingredients are combined, whisking is essential for making egg yolks and homemade ganache.
7 ounces granulated sugar (about 1 cup) – this should be a total volume of 7 ounces and can be measured with a kitchen scale if you don’t have a cup measure. If you cannot find a 7 ounce measure, purchase one from Amazon here. This is the best cake pan size that we recommend to make this cake in. The cake pan size is about 9″ x 13″ (23cm x 33cm) and the width of the cake within the pan, plus 1″ (2.5cm), will be about 12″ (30cm). If you want to make the cake larger, simply increase the recipe accordingly as needed.
185 grams water (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon) – use room temperature water. Room temperature means that it should sit out in your counter top near where you are going to use it and relax for a while before using. Rooms at different temperatures have different effects on egg yolk consistency, so make sure yours is as close to room temperature as possible.
185 grams orange juice (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon) – make sure to buy good quality orange juice. Tropicana and Minute Maid are low in sugar and taste great. Avoid using OJ concentrate from a jar or a can.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract – use pure vanilla extract, not artificial or imitation vanilla flavouring. These don’t have the same consistency as the real thing and will affect your custard’s ability to set properly. If you cannot find pure vanilla extract, use pure vanilla paste instead. You can get it online at Amazon.com or at Whole Foods.
Click the next button to see the rest of the recipe