Lerato’s Chocolate Christmas: Recipe For Sticky Sweet Chocolate Orange Cake
It’s Christmas! Not today or tomorrow but now is the season of reflection and celebration. Celebrating the birth of Christ is a wonderful tradition that brings family and friends together. I love Christmas and I am most excited about cooking and eating lots of delicious food.
This Christmas I am going chocolate crazy! Chocolate is not everybody’s cup of tea, even I cannot overindulge without consequences, but it is undeniably luxurious and delicious. The magic of chocolate cannot be overemphasized; imagine the enveloping warmth of a cup of velvety smooth hot chocolate – my daily favourite which sends me to sleep like a baby, or that feeling of love, gratitude, affection and more evoked by a box of chocolates received as a ‘thank you’, ‘get well’, ‘I’m sorry’, ‘I love you’, or ‘Merry Xmas’ treat.
Whatever the occasion, chocolate is always a treat. How about chocolate and chilli? Too adventurous for you? Let us save that for another time. This Christmas I think a Chocolate and Orange cake will be a wonderful addition to your family Christmas spread as it is a firm favourite in mine. This sticky chocolate cake is soaked with a spiced orange syrup. It is different and it is delicious!
Now, let’s bake a cake; the stickiest sweetest chocolate cake ever! Sticky Sweet Chocolate Orange cake
100g cocoa powder
9 tbs hot water
1 tbsp butter (for greasing)
250g golden caster sugar
240ml sunflower oil
2 oranges (for it’s zest and juice)
175g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
For the chocolate ganache
200g good quality chocolate (70% cocoa and upwards)
250ml double cream
2 tbs golden caster sugar
For the spiced orange syrup
1 star anise
1 stick of cinnamon
A few cardamon pods
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp grated nutmeg
4tbs golden castor sugar
1. As always start by preheating the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Using your melted butter , grease the base of a 23cm/9in round cake tin or one any other shape of considerable size and line with baking paper. In a large bowl, sift the cocoa powder and mix with hot water to form a smooth paste. In another large bowl, lightly beat the eggs, sugar and oil. Use a zester or a peeler to extract the top layer of your oranges, squeeze the juice of both oranges, making sure to remove all seeds and piths. Pour the juice into the egg sugar and oil mixture.
2. Stir in the chocolate paste, sift the flour, and baking powder and gradually mix all together. Pour the cake mix into your greased and lined tin and bake in the centre if the oven for 50 minutes. Check if your cake springs back up when lightly pressed in the middle, then it is ready or use a wooden pick to check for any wetness inside the cake. If wet continue to bake another 5 minutes. If your cake is already browning, cover it with foil to continue cooking.
3. Once your cake is ready, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Turn out the cake carefully or release it if you used a springform tin and allow to cool further on a cooling rack. Now you can make the ganache and Christmassy orange syrup to complete this wonderful cake.
4. To make the spiced orange syrup, zest or peel the oranges and set aside the zest. Juice the oranges and cut up the squeezed oranges into small chunks. Simmer the chunks, juices and remaining spices with the water. After 10 minutes, strain the contents using a cotton strainer or any sieve with holes small enough to capture all the spices. Pour the liquid back into the pot and add orange zest. Cook for 5 minutes and finally add the sugar. Stir for a few minutes until the mixture becomes a syrup. Take the pot off the heat. Remove the orange zests and set aside for decorating the cake at the very end. Use a toothpick or barbecue stick to make holes in and around the cake but not all the way to the bottom. Use a table spoon to scoop and pour the syrup onto the cake. Repeat until you are satisfied with the amount of syrup in your cake.
5. To make the ganache, place a dry bowl over simmering water, taking care not to allow the water touch the bottom of the bowl. We do this to melt the chocolate without burning it. Put the broken bits of chocolate into the bowl and wait for it to melt gradually. Stir the cream into the melting chocolate a bit at a time until it forms a smooth paste. Add the sugar and stir to completely dissolve. Set aside to cool until firm enough to be spread over the cake. It should be firm but still spreadable. If it gets to firm, put the bowl back on top of a simmering pot of water to loosen the mixture.
Now it’s time to finish the cake! Finish decorating I mean, not finish eating it! Use a palette knife if you have one or a large metal spoon to swirl the ganache around the top and sides of the cake. Scatter the candied orange zest or peel onto the cake as your final decoration and enjoy this wonderful rich Christmas surprise!
Tip: If you cannot be bothered to make the orange syrup yourself, use orange marmalade with the orange peels and chunky bits in them. Sometimes an easier life can be a sweeter life!
Merry Christmas everyone! Xx
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