This chocolate orange cake is easy to make and is bursting with citrus and dark chocolate flavor. It's a simple single layer of moist, dark chocolate cake made with fresh orange juice, orange zest and buttermilk. The cake is topped with swirls of quick chocolate orange ganache and dried orange slices. Orange and chocolate pair here to create a delightfully rich and flavorful dessert that's perfect for any occasion!
I was inspired to make a chocolate orange cake after making a chocolate orange cheesecake this winter. Rather than a more complex layer cake (like this triple chocolate drip cake), I opted for a simple single layer cake that would be easy to put together without much fuss.
I adapted my chocolate olive oil bundt cake recipe in order to make the cake layer even more dark and moist with a rich and fudgy consistency. Black cocoa powder adds a deeper chocolate flavor and dramatic black color. A generous amount of orange zest and orange juice provide maximum citrus punch.
The result is a single layer chocolate orange cake with a bright citrus flavor and incredibly moist, fudgy dark chocolate taste. It's blanketed with an easy dark chocolate ganache made with sour cream, dark chocolate and even more citrus zest. Chocolate dipped dried citrus wheels provide the perfect cake decoration.
FOR THE CAKE
- All purpose flour - Flour provides structure to the cake.
- Dutch process cocoa powder - This chocolate cake recipe specifically calls for Dutch process cocoa powder for its dark color and extra chocolate flavor. Do not replace with natural cocoa.
- Black cocoa powder - (affiliate link) Black cocoa powder has been heavily alkalized, making it into an "ultra Dutch processed" cocoa. This results in a deep black color and a flavor much like a dark Oreo cookie.
- Baking powder - Baking powder serves as the leavening agent in this cake.
- Kosher salt - For added flavor.
- Vegetable oil - Feel free to use any neutral vegetable oil here, such as grapeseed, avocado or organic canola oil.
- Granulated sugar - For sweetness, tenderness and moisture.
- Eggs - Eggs serve as a binder to provide structure to the cake, as well as fat and flavor.
- Buttermilk - The acid in buttermilk helps break down gluten in baked goods, providing a more tender crumb. Its signature tang also pairs well with orange.
- Orange zest - The zest of a large navel orange adds a punch of fresh citrus flavor.
- Vanilla extract - For added flavor.
- Espresso powder - Instant espresso powder (affiliate link) enhances the chocolate flavor without providing any coffee taste.
- Orange juice - Freshly squeezed orange juice is best here - you'll need about 3 medium to large oranges for this amount.
FOR THE EASY GANACHE
- Sour cream - Use full fat sour cream for richness. This is a great recipe for making chocolate ganache with no cream!
- Orange zest - After grating, chop the zest very finely so that it doesn't create a noticeable texture in the frosting.
- Dark chocolate - I used a chocolate bar with 72% cocoa. Feel free to select any bar with 50-72% chocolate. I wouldn't go any darker than that.
FOR THE DECORATION
- See recipe for dried orange slices, with option to dip in dark chocolate
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make chocolate orange cake:
Step 1: Combine all dry ingredients together: flour, cocoa powders, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, sugar and eggs.
Step 3: Add buttermilk, orange zest, vanilla extract and espresso powder. Whisk together.
Step 4: Add ⅓ of dry ingredients. Whisk to combine. Add half of orange juice.
Step 5: Alternate adding remaining dry ingredients and orange juice, ending with dry ingredients. Whisk until fully combined. Pour into prepared pan.
Step 6: Bake for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177° Celsius, Gas mark 4). Remove and cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto baking rack to fully cool.
Hint: This is a very moist and fudgy cake. When you test it for doneness, there should still be some wet crumbs (but not gooey batter) on the toothpick. I recommend you test at the 40 minute mark as oven temperatures do vary!
How to make chocolate orange ganache:
Step 1: Add sour cream to a large mixing bowl. Add finely chopped orange zest and whisk to combine. Set aside while you melt chocolate.
Step 2: In the top of a double boiler (or a heatproof glass or metal bowl that fits snugly over a small pot of simmering water), melt chopped chocolate, stirring frequently. Once chocolate is melted, remove from heat to cool slightly.
Step 3: Add melted chocolate to sour cream mixture, whisking gently to combine. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula to ensure chocolate is fully incorporated. Scoop ganache onto cake and spread to edges using a swirling motion with a mini offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
- Black cocoa powder - I like to use some black cocoa powder (affiliate link) in the cake as it adds dramatic color and an extra depth of flavor to the cake. If you can't source it, feel free to replace it with an equal amount of Dutch process cocoa powder.
Items below contain affiliate links.
To bake this cake, I used this Fat Daddio 8 inch diameter round pan with 3 inch sides. These heavy duty aluminum cake pans are great quality!
A mini offset spatula makes spreading the chocolate ganache SO much easier. It's an indispensable tool for frosting cakes and cookies and spreading batters smooth.
Keep the cake at room temperature for 2-3 hours. After that, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (due to the sour cream in the frosting). Bring to room temperature before serving.
Cake can be frozen. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator, then bring to room temperature before serving.
Make sure the chocolate & orange cake is fully cooled before adding the dark chocolate sour cream ganache.
Add the ganache soon after mixing it up. The ganache will thicken and eventually set up as it cools. In order to swirl it over the cake easily, spread it on while still soft.
If the ganache thickens too much before you add it to the cake, simply warm it in a metal or ceramic bowl over a small pan filled with hot water. Stir frequently until the consistency becomes thinner and more spreadable.
Chocolate Orange CakePrint Recipe Pin Recipe
Chocolate Orange Cake
- 150 grams (1¼ cups) all purpose flour
- 52 grams (½ cup) Dutch cocoa powder
- 32 grams (¼ cup) black cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 175 mL (¾ cup) buttermilk
- zest of 1 large navel orange
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder, instant
- 175 mL (¾ cup) orange juice, freshly squeezed
Chocolate Orange Ganache
- 240 grams (1 cup) sour cream, full fat
- zest of 1 large navel orange, finely chopped
- 200 grams (7 ounces) dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used a 72% cocoa bar)
Chocolate Orange Cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177° Celsius, Gas mark 4). Place rack in center of oven.
- Line the base of an 8 inch x 3 inch cake pan with parchment paper. Grease the sides. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powders, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and granulated sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between additions.
- Add buttermilk, orange zest, vanilla extract and espresso powder. Whisk well to combine all wet ingredients.
- Add ⅓ of dry ingredients, whisking thoroughly. Add ½ of orange juice and mix well.
- Alternate adding remaining dry ingredients and orange juice, ending with dry. Whisk until fully blended. Pour into prepared pan.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, until top springs back when touched and a toothpick comes out with just a few wet crumbs attached (but not gooey batter.) Do not overbake! Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then flip out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
Chocolate Orange Ganache
- Add sour cream to a large mixing bowl. Add finely chopped orange zest and whisk to combine. Set aside while you melt chocolate.
- In the top of a double boiler (or a heatproof glass or metal bowl that fits snugly over a small pot of simmering water), melt chopped chocolate, stirring frequently. Once chocolate is melted, remove from heat to cool down slightly.
- Add melted chocolate to sour cream mixture, whisking gently to combine. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a spatula to ensure chocolate is fully incorporated. Scoop ganache onto cake and spread to edges using a swirling motion with a mini offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
Made this recipe?
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