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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Friday, July 15, 2005

Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake

Hehe, another decadent chocolate cake to add to the archives. This one has the benefit of being both extremely moist and rich, but also flourless and, thus, suitable for those avoiding wheat flour or the gluten intolerant. I made this for my mum's birthday last week, knowing that amongst the crowd who would eat it would be three men who are not overly fond of sweet food, and a group of women who love moist cakes with lashings of thick cream. I thought this would fit the bill perfectly.
I should explain why this cake suits those who don't usually like sweets; the oranges which make up the bulk of the cake are boiled whole (yes, unpeeled) for 2 hours until really soft, and then whizzed in the food processor - skin, pith and all until a mush is formed. The inclusion of the skin and pith creates a cake that is not too sweet in flavour, and yet without a trace of the bitterness you get with uncooked orange peel. This recipe is middle-eastern in origin and there doesn't seem to be a cookbook or trendy cafe around nowdays which doesn't include it. I have it in both Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion and Nigella Lawson's How To Eat, and both credit Claudia Roden for the first published recipe of it.
The cake is given its structural integrity by adding ground almonds and eggs, and sweetened with some sugar. All thrown in the food processor. Basically it's the easiest cake you can make, and yet one of the most impressive. It has the taste and texture of a cake doused in syrup, without the tediousness of doing so, and without the excessive sweetness that involves. It's both wet and light, and keeps for ages without going stale.
But I haven't yet mentioned the chocolate inclusion, have I? I've only ever seen this as an orange cake. To add chocolate sounds so very wrong, but in Nigella's Feast she includes a version to which she adds a hefty dose of good cocoa powder. Australians who have ever tasted a Jaffa, or Brits who like a good Terry's dark chocolate orange, this is a very posh version of that taste. Surpringly (for me) it works better than I expected; neither flavour is overpowering, rather they complement each other really well.

I know that adding a decadent chocolate ganache to such a cake is the antithesis of what it should be, as it derives from the Jewish period of Passover when dairy products are not consumed. I did worry that it would be overkill on such a moist cake, but it worked SO very well. It made the cake look a bit more special and glam, and the icing gave a textural change that, I think, was welcomed. I made sure I stuck with bittersweet chocolate so as not to create new flavours, and hope I haven't offended any people who firmly believe such a cake shouldn't be iced, but I do think I've discovered a wonderful new food pairing!
I think this was a very popular cake. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it and were fascinated by the concept of adding whole, pureed oranges without making it taste horrible. The best indicator for me, though, was seeing the men enjoy it as much as the women!
Read on for the recipe:

Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake
Inspired by both Claudia Roden & Nigella Lawson

Unpeeled oranges (or other orangey citrus) to the weight of approx 375g
6 eggs
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200g ground almonds
150g caster sugar
50g Dutch cocoa

200g dark chocolate
200ml cream

-Put the whole, unpeeled oranges in a saucepan with cold water to cover and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 hours or until soft. -Drain, and when cool, cut the oranges in quarters and remove any big pips.
Place everything - peel, pith and all - in a food processor.
-Cool the fruit before proceeding with the next step. Often it's best to complete the cooking of the fruit the day before.
-Preheat oven to 180C and line a 20cm springform (or standard) tin. Lining it is very important, if you want to remove your cake later; a double layer of paper is a good idea.
-Add the eggs, baking powder, bicarb, almonds, sugar and cocoa to the oranges in the food processor. Process until you have what looks like a cake mixture with a few knobbly bits of pureed orange.
-Pour and scrape into the cake tin and bake for an hour, by which time a skewer should emerge fairly clean. Start checking after 45 minutes, as you may have to cover with foil to stop the surface burning. It may take up to 1 1/2 hours to cook through, depending on your oven.
-Leave the cake to cool in its tin and remove when cold.
-To make the ganache, heat the cream in a heavy saucepan and add the chocolate off the heat. Mix until combined, then whisk until the mixture cools and becomes thick and glossy, ~5-10 minutes, and apply with a spatula or cake knife. Decorate with pieces of orange peel if you so desire.


  • Looks great as always niki :)

    By Blogger eat stuff, at 7/15/2005 06:25:00 pm  

  • wow this looks absolutely decadent!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/16/2005 12:16:00 am  

  • You purveyor of sinful delights you! This is something I would like to try. I'm always on the lookout for recipes of flourless cakes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/16/2005 12:37:00 am  

  • Oh, Niki...I can't remember the last time I saw such a gorgeous cake. I love how dense it is...flourless cakes are fantastic, and yours is clearly the cream of the crop! Or should I say, orchard??

    By Blogger Stephanie, at 7/16/2005 02:20:00 am  

  • Niki, that cake is inappropriately delicious looking. And yet I can't take my eyes off it...

    By Blogger Nic, at 7/16/2005 03:18:00 am  

  • Chocolate and orange is a fabulous combination and who could say no to a ganache - the ganache is the best bit!

    Didn't you love how Nigella devoted An Entire Chapter of Feast to chocolate cakes?

    By Blogger plum, at 7/16/2005 10:18:00 pm  

  • Niki - I made this cake yesterday having seen it on your blog, and it was absolutely delicious! Really lovely. My Dad is wheat intolerent and I'm sure it's one of the best cakes he's ever had since he went wheat-free. I should have let the ganache cool much more before pouring it on, but I'll know for next time. Thanks for a great recipe.

    By Blogger FactoBrunt, at 7/17/2005 08:30:00 pm  

  • Hi Niki, your photos of this cake look so delicious! I swooned so much when I saw them that I nearly fell off my chair!

    By Blogger Kelly, at 7/18/2005 11:29:00 am  

  • Clare - merci beaucoup!

    AG - I love icing, and this one is great as it's not too sweet. But nice and thick.

    Gwenda - Yes, it was!

    Karen - Flourless cakes taste so decadent for the little effort they take to make. I encourage you to try this one; I think it's a great recipe.

    Staphnie- Why, thank you! Yes, very dense and dark, but surprisingly light as well.

    Nic - My photos really surprise me sometimes. The ones I think aren't going to turn out well are often the best.

    Plum - Chocolate and orange is such a British flavour for me. I'm not sure why I think of that. Must be those Terry's choc orange ads.
    I think Nigella was bowing to reader pressure with her whole chapter of chocolate cake recipes; especially as she doesn't have a sweet tooth or enjoy chocolate very much!

    Factobrunt - I had a look at your entry, and I'm so glad you made it AND that your dad enjoyed it. It's no fun having to avoid wheat (I'm having to cut down on it at the moment too, for medical reasons) so a recipe like this can make you feel a bit better about the world.

    Briskjj - Don't hurt yourself there! Seriously, thanks so much.

    By Blogger Niki, at 7/18/2005 05:43:00 pm  

  • This is the most fabulous sounding cake I have heard of you tempt me to bake cake nearly every week.

    By Blogger Amanda, at 7/19/2005 09:42:00 pm  

  • Made this cake yesterday for a friend's 30th and he loved it! Going to make a plain orange or lemon cake and top it with white chocolate ganache. Thanks for sharing!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5/17/2006 10:03:00 pm  

  • I love an orange and chocolate combo but have not found a recipe that balances both flavours well, until this fabulous cake! It's amazing how the orange flavour comes through despite all that chocolate. It's moist and light as well, and so easy to make. Thanks you for a lovely recipe - this is now my favourite cake.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/10/2006 12:14:00 pm  

  • Oh yummm!! This looks awesome!
    I also like the orange-chocolate combination and found the orange boiling technique quite interesting!!
    It must be a nice and flavorfull cake!

    By Blogger Ana, at 9/02/2006 05:00:00 am  

  • This sounds fantastic! I wonder, however, if anyone has a suggestion on replacing the almonds; I am considering making this for someone with a nut allergy. It's also going on the list for my Celiac father. He will love this.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/12/2006 06:09:00 am  

  • This is very easy and delicious, I wanted to make it a little bigger (10' cheese cake pan) so I put seven eggs and 250g of ground almonds and about 75 g of cocoa, 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder and kept the baking soda at 1/2 tsp (full). I put the icing in a bowl (bought a can)because my husband said not to ice it but I thought I'd give a choice. Worked out perfectly.

    This would make an excellent Passover cake, by separating the eggs (include the stiffly beaten whites at the end) instead of the baking powder / baking soda. Instead of icing put some seasonal fruit on top.

    I give it 5 * for easiness, taste, looks, and it's low fat as well!

    By Blogger Unknown, at 2/25/2007 05:07:00 am  

  • sylvia
    Can anyone tell me how low fat this is in grams

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/25/2007 08:01:00 am  

  • In January I visited the Julaymba Restaurant in Daintree, Australia. They had the most delicious flourless chocolate cake I have ever tasted. Is there someone out there who would have their recipe. I would be forever grateful.

    Yours truly

    By Blogger Unknown, at 3/05/2007 07:12:00 am  

  • Hi, this cake sounds wonderful, but, I need help to convert this into cups and ounces, as I am in the US. I went to some sites, but they all give slightly different amounts and I want it to be as exact as possible to the receipe. Can anyone help? Thanks. Elizabeth

    By Blogger Elizabeth, at 4/01/2007 01:59:00 am  

  • Made this cake and found it to be very dry. If I were to make it again I would add 1/2 cup butter. (I didn't use the chocolate ganache frosting).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/03/2007 03:28:00 pm  

  • This is truly one of the best cakes EVER!!WHoever that was that said it was dry...well, I am sure something went wrong because this is sooo moist! :)) M M M

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/14/2007 11:02:00 pm  

  • Thank you for posting this recipe. Just an FYI though: dairy is most assuredly consumed during Passover; however, grain and leavening is not.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11/20/2008 06:04:00 am  

  • Am about to make this cake for a friend since it looks really good. Wondered whether you had reduced the sugar in the cake since the original recipe called for more sugar (think 250 grams). Was it because of the ganache?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/10/2009 06:47:00 pm  

  • By Blogger jimmychooshoes, at 8/19/2010 09:06:00 pm  

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