I bought a bag of oranges last week but wasn’t too impressed with their sweetness. Being in a baking mood this weekend, I decided to use them in a dessert of some sort. I settled on my favourite chocolate mud cake recipe, but with a new twist.
I posted another variation of this mud cake here. The recipe calls for quite a lot of water, which I substituted for freshly squeezed orange juice. I also added less sugar because of the natural sugars in the juice and it turned out the perfect level of sweetness for me.
Not wanting to waste the peel from all the oranges I’d juiced, I also decided to make candied orange peel as a garnish. The peel is boiled to remove most of the bitterness, and then cooked in sugar syrup, and rolled in sugar. I also used leftover rind to infuse the cream for my ganache frosting. I didn’t expect the cake to taste very orangey on it’s own so I wanted the ganache to have a lot of flavour, which it certainly did.
I filled the cake with two layers of whipped ganache, and covered it with a thinner, more glossy ganache. I have made a lot of ganache before, and whilst it is essentially very easy to make, it can be difficult to get the consistency just right. I wasn’t 100% happy with the ganache coating because it ended up having very small pieces of orange peel through it even though I strained it. It tasted good but the smooth finish I was after didn’t really work out. Overall though, I was very happy with the result. I can’t wait to try some other variations of this chocolate mud cake.
I also dipped some candied orange peel in dark chocolate which can be served with the cake, or eaten alone.
Edit: I made this again for my Dad’s birthday. I halved the ingredients to make a smaller cake and decorated it with Terry’s Chocolate Orange segments. It didn’t look as polished as I wanted but the family raved about how it tasted. It’s a definite crowd-pleaser, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favourite cakes.
Chocolate Orange Mud Cake
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1/2 cup dutch or good quality cocoa
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 190g butter
- 1 1/4 cups white or caster sugar
- 1 1/2 cups orange juice
- 2 eggs
- ~2 tsp grated orange zest
Preheat fan-forced oven to 150C. Line the base of whatever tin(s) you use with baking paper and butter the sides. I usually use a single deep ~9 inch tin.
Sift flour, cocoa, salt and bicarb in a bowl and whisk to distribute bicarb evenly.
Combine butter, sugar and a little orange juice in a saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved and add the rest of the juice. Beat in the eggs and orange rind.
Add to flour mixture and whisk to combine. It should be quite runny.
Pour into tin(s) and bake until a moist looking dome has formed and a skewer comes out clean. For a single tin it usually takes me about 40-50 minutes.
If the top rises unevenly or has large cracks your oven is too hot (but it should still taste fine). You can get away with under-baking this cake slightly as it’s supposed to be super moist. If cutting into layers, wait until it is completely cool (or even freeze). You may wish to cut off the edges as the orange juice causes it to taste a bit burnt where it touches the tin.
It should last 1-2 weeks covered in the fridge and like any good mud cake should, it definitely improves with age. Best eaten at room temperature or warmed slightly in microwave.
Ganache is just a combination of chocolate and cream in its simplest form. To make a thick ganache for filling cakes I use equal parts dark chocolate and heavy whipping cream by weight. For this cake I used 200g of each. For a thinner, more pourable ganache, just use more cream. I used about 250g cream to 200g chocolate for my pouring ganache.
To make it, weigh out your ingredients and finely chop the chocolate. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and add a couple of teaspoons of orange rind if you want to infuse the flavour. You could just add it at the end if you wish, infusing should produce a smoother result though. Heat the cream until just beginning to boil (scalded) and then strain it over the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Let it sit for a minute or two and stir gently to combine (you could add the rind at this point if you prefer). Try to avoid incorporating air bubbles if you want a glossy finish. Use good quality chocolate because you can really taste the difference. I like to use Whittaker’s.
Let the ganache cool completely before using. You can speed up this process by putting it in the fridge or freezer and giving it a gentle stir every few minutes. If you want to whip it to make a lighter frosting or filling, make sure it is cold and starting to thicken or else it may separate (if it does, simply remelt).
Candied Orange Peel
Score the skin of however many oranges you are using and peel off the rind in strips. Use a knife to cut off as much of the white pith as possible, and cut the rind into thin strips. Place them in a saucepan with some water and bring to the boil. Strain, and repeat this process to remove most of the bitterness. Now you need to cook the peel in sugar syrup using approx 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. I used 1 cup of sugar with 2 cups of water for the peel of 2 oranges. It doesn’t really matter how much liquid you have as long as the peel is completely covered. Simmer on low heat for about an hour, or until the edges turn translucent. Drain the syrup (which can be reserved for cordial or cocktails) and lay the peel out flat on a wire rack for at least 24 hours to dry. You can toss them in sugar before drying if you wish. I curled some of my peel up into little spirals before drying and they set pretty hard.