Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Friday, 31st May 2013
I haven’t shared a Chocolate Cake recipe in a while and this one is chock full of flavour and super moist. Usually when I’m beginning a cake recipe I choose what type of fruit or nut I would like to highlight and it’s always difficult for my mind not to immediately think of pairing either with chocolate. As far as I’m concerned no matter what type of fruit or nut I choose the flavour of the cake can always be improved by adding chocolate, especially bittersweet, it’s the star.
When working with chocolate it’s best to keep things simple and although generally I don’t like to add too many flavours I made an exception because chocolate, hazelnut and orange play so well together. I also opted to use a dark chocolate cocoa in the cake batter; it adds the right amount of intensity without adding extra richness.
Hazelnuts are rich and buttery and adding orange helps to cut through the richness. To keep the orange flavour from getting lost I added quite a bit of zest. The essential oils are in the skin and it provides a pleasing orange flavour component to the cake.
To bring out the orange flavour component even more I added orange liqueur. For this cake I used Cointreau but Grand Marnier would be tasty too. Both are orange peel flavoured liqueurs but with Grand Marnier, the orange peel is blended with Cognac.
I layered the cake with Orange Chocolate Ganache. The orange liqueur adds a refreshing tang to the decadently rich chocolate. At first glance the glossy shine will tempt you but one taste of the incredibly smooth ganache and it will have you going back for more.
Preparing a hazelnut ganache is a wonderful alternative. Simply substitute the orange liqueur with a hazelnut liqueur, I recommend Frangelico. If you carry on with the nutty flavour you could decorate the cake with Caramel-Dipped Hazelnuts.
If you’re like me and prefer to have a couple of dessert options when entertaining this cake is the perfect size (18 cm or 7-inch). I especially like to offer a lighter dessert option when I’m serving an incredibly rich chocolate cake like this one.
Some simple options that come to mind are Grilled Peaches with Amaretto Chantilly Cream, Lemon Posset or Vanilla-Coconut Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Jelly.
We’ve been busy working outdoors getting the backyard in shape for the summer season. I’m looking forward to summer entertaining. It’s been a long winter and I’m excited to visit the local farms and enjoy all the fresh produce.
Orange and Hazelnut Chocolate Cake
Makes one 18 cm (7-inch) layer cake
- Orange Chocolate Ganache
- Simple Syrup
- Orange and Hazelnut Chocolate Cake
Orange Chocolate Ganache
If you would prefer to not use the liqueur, orange extract can be used as a substitution to flavour the ganache. I used 1 tablespoon in the ganache I prepared but if you would prefer a stronger liqueur flavour you could add up to 2 tablespoons but I would recommend adding the second tablespoon a little at a time tasting after each addition.
- 200 g (7 ounces) good quality extra dark chocolate, 70%, finely chopped
- 100 g (3½ ounces) good quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 250 ml (1 cup + 1 tablespoon) heavy cream, 35%
- 57 g (¼ cup) unsalted butter, cut into four equal pieces, room temperature
- 15 ml to 30 ml (1 to 2 tablespoons) orange liqueur, Grand Marnier or Cointreau
- Place chocolate in heatproof bowl.
- In small saucepan, bring cream just to the boil (small bubbles beginning to form around the edges of the pan) over medium heat. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute.
- Using flexible spatula, gently stir cream and chocolate together beginning in the centre of the bowl and gradually working towards the edges pulling in as much chocolate as possible until the mixture is smooth, glossy and well combined.
- Add the butter and stir until butter is completely dissolved.
- Strain the ganache through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Add the liqueur and stir to well combine. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ganache (to prevent a film from forming as it cools and thickens. Let stand until thickened, at least four hours but preferably overnight.
- 113 g (½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 120 ml (½ cup) water
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) orange liqueur, Grand Marnier or Cointreau
- In a small saucepan combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously until sugar is dissolved.
- Remove from heat, cool slightly.
- Add liqueur and stir to combine.
Orange and Hazelnut Chocolate Cake
If you would prefer to not use the liqueur, replace the liqueur with orange juice and add orange extract for added flavouring. When processing hazelnuts, I do not process to a flour consistency I prefer a coarser grind to give texture to the cake.
- 141 g (½ cup + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, extra for greasing tin
- 63 g (½ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 32 g (1/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa, extra for dusting cake (dusting cake is optional)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 75 g (½ cup) hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and finely ground
- Finely grated zest of 3 oranges, divided
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) orange liqueur, Grand Marnier or Cointreau
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 169 g (¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar, divided
- 4 large eggs, separated
- Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F). Lightly grease base and sides of 18 cm (7-inch) round baking tin with softened butter and then line base and sides with non-stick baking paper. Using fine mesh sieve, sift flour, cocoa and baking powder twice onto a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Sift for a third time into a medium bowl. Add salt and ground hazelnuts and whisk to combine well. Reserve 2 teaspoons orange zest. In small bowl, combine the remainder of the zest, liqueur and vanilla and stir to combine.
- In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until fluffy, 1 minute.
- Reserve 28 g (2 tablespoons) sugar. Gradually add the remainder of the sugar (141 g or ½ cup + 2 tablespoons), the reserved 2 teaspoons orange zest and continue to beat at medium speed, scraping down sides, bottom of bowl and paddle attachment occasionally, until pale, about 5 minutes.
- Add the egg yolks and beat until well combined, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed.
- Add the orange zest-liqueur mixture and beat to combine well. Remove bowl from stand mixer.
- In a separate medium bowl prepare meringue. Beat egg whites and medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the reserved sugar (28 g or 2 tablespoons) and continue to beat at medium speed until stiff peaks form.
- Using large flexible spatula, fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture in two additions alternating with the meringue in two additions using one third of the meringue in the first addition and the remainder in the second addition.
- Transfer the batter to the prepared baking tin. Using small offset spatula spread the batter evenly to the edges of the tin.
- Bake until cake tester inserted in centre of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack. Let stand in tin, about 15 minutes. Remove cake from tin and return to wire rack, right side up, and let stand until completely cooled.
- Using serrated knife, trim the top of the cake to create an even surface and then cut the cake into three even layers.
- Transfer the bottom layer cut side up, to round cake board (board should be slightly smaller than the diameter of the cake). Using pastry brush, brush the surface of the cake layer with simple syrup. Spoon one-quarter of the ganache in the centre of the cake layer. Using large offset spatula spread the ganache evenly to edges.
- Using pastry brush, brush the under side of the middle layer with simple syrup. Carefully place the layer, syrup side down, on top of the base layer. Brush the surface of the middle cake layer with simple syrup. Spoon one-quarter of the ganache in the centre of the cake and again, using offset spatula spread evenly to edges.
- Brush the underside of the top layer with simple syrup and place, syrup side down, on top of the middle layer. Brush the surface of the top cake layer with simple syrup. Reserve about one-third of the remaining ganache (for decorating). Spoon the remainder of the ganache in the centre of the cake. Using offset spatula spread the ganache over the surface and around the sides of the cake (using more ganache for the sides).
- Run dough scraper or straight spatula along the sides of the cake to create a smooth finish.
- Using large offset spatula, smooth the surface of the cake running the spatula from border inward towards the centre.
- Optional – using small fine mesh sieve, dust the surface of the cake with an even layer of cocoa.
- Transfer the remainder of the ganache to large pastry bag fitted with decorative tip. Pipe swirls around the edge of the cake, spacing about 12 mm (½-inch apart).
- Carefully transfer to cake plate or stand.
- Buon Appetito!
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