The best chocolate cake: Chocolate Orange Spice Cake

Chocolate Orange Spice Cake I’ve always liked to bake. As soon as I was old enough to co-ordinate reading recipes and using a wooden spoon, I was anxious for any cake-making excuse – and most of them involved copious amounts of chocolate. Over the years there have been many good chocolate cakes, from my early attempts using chocolate-flavoured cake covering and marg to (when I started paying for my own shopping!) butter and 70% dark chocolate.

This cake, however, although it may not look like much, stands head and shoulders above the rest.

I discovered it in the Green and Black’s cookbook when we were in New Zealand. We had a friend who was coeliac so I was always on the look out for cakes that were suitable for her and this was a good one. Deep and dark and deliciously decadent, this was a gluten-free cake that didn’t try to pretend it needed some kind of flour substitute. Neither did it need the eggs to be seperated and the whites whisked, something which – at the time I had no electric mixer or whisk – turned me off many a recipe.

This is a very quick cake to make: just melt, whisk, mix and bake. It can be served as it is with good vanilla ice cream or topped with a cloud of softly whipped cream and dusted with cocoa or grating of cacao. You can, of course, leave out the orange rind and spices but I love these flavours with the chocolate.

Chocolate Orange Spice Cake
This is a grown up cake, not too sweet, but you don’t want to go overboard with the dark chocolate here. I’ve made it with 70% chocolate and it can be a bit too rich. I use a mixture of 70% and 55%, proportions jigged according to what’s on the chocolate shelf and the designated audience.

Dark chocolate – 300g.
Caster sugar – 275g
Butter – 165g
Sea salt – a pinch if you are using unsalted butter. Otherwise optional.
Eggs – 5
Ground almonds – 1 tablespoon
Grated rind of one orange
Ground cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
Nutmeg – ¼ teaspoon, freshly ground
Cream and cocoa or cacao to serve

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (170ºC fan bake). Butter and line the base of a 23cm spring-form cake tin.

Put the chocolate, butter, sugar and salt, if using, into a large bowl and suspend over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat when the chocolate and butter are melted and allow to cool.

Whisk the eggs with the ground almonds, orange rind and spices. Mix gently into the melted ingredients until it thickens slightly then pour into the prepared tin.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. This cake does not rise very much but you will know that it is cooked when it has cracked on top and shrunk slightly away from the sides of the tin. When tested with a skewer it should still be soft but not raw inside.

Allow to cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before removing the sides and base of the tin. When cold, top the cake with a layer of softly whipped cream and either sieve over a teaspoon of cocoa or grate over a sprinkling of cacao.

Serves 8.



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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6 Responses

  1. triona says:

    yummmm-i will be down for tea and cake this week!

  2. Hi thereThere is also a great gluten free chocolate polenta cake recipe in that Green & Black book.I wanted to give you a quick update on the Best in Season site – we’ve added a few new items to the site which you may find interesting, including a recipe competition (which you’d be welcome to enter) and the first farmer interview at the bottom of the site.Also, we are adding a links section to the site for food bloggers and would like to add a link to Bibliocook, would you be OK with that?

  3. Caroline says:

    I remember that polenta cake – I never seem to have polenta on hand when I need it though!I’ve been looking around Best in Season and I really like your what’s in season calendar. Now all I need to do is copy it into a neat PDF so that I can stick it up on the fridge! And I can attest to blueberries being in season at the moment – mine have just started to ripen, not that they’re going to be left on the bush for too long. They’re just too close to the clothes line…Mmmm – competition time! Recipes for new potatoes? Yes please! That’s definitely one for the Daily Spud.I’d love a link too! Thank you.

  4. Anna says:

    mmmmmmmmmmm….think i’ll try this with the tribe over the next few days. Was baking up a storm for school xmas fair last sunday and much to Roan’s disgust, didnt keep anything at home. He spent his meagre pocket money to buy back some of the rocky road we’d made 🙂
    Had to laugh at the ‘you’ll know when its done when it has cracked on top and slightly shrunk from the sides’ bit, as most of my cakes end up that way, whether they’re meant to or not!!

    • Caroline Caroline says:

      Poor Roan! I’d say he wasn’t best impressed by that. I still remember baking Blackberry Crumble with him when he could hardly reach into the bowl to help.

      This is a fantastic cake for pudding, especially served in thin slices with dollops of cream. Might not be too much to the taste of the kids though, unless you make it with chocolate that isn’t quite so dark.

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