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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Chocolate Orange Cake

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This chocolate orange cake boasts a deeply rich and moist chocolate cake topped with a dark chocolate orange ganache! It’s a chocolate lover’s dream. It’s easy to make and includes a vegan and gluten-free option.

Chocolate orange cake topped with orange slices and a chocolate ganache frosting on a white cake board.

Chocolate and orange are a classic and divine combination. Citrusy orange intensifies the flavor of chocolate cake and adds a bright, fruity aftertaste. If you’re unsure about the orange-chocolate combo, one bite of this soft chocolate cake and heavenly ganache will convert you.

Don’t be fooled by its pillowy-soft texture and silky smooth frosting, this easy chocolate orange cake recipe is simple to make but looks super fancy! You can make the cake layers ahead of time and freeze, then all you have to do is make the frosting and assemble.

I like to do this for Christmas, birthday parties, and special occasions. You can also try some of these other delicious cakes like this chocolate walnut cake, this gingerbread bundt cake, and this chocolate mango cake!

If you have food allergies or know someone who does, this from scratch orange chocolate cake can easily be made vegan or gluten-free. Just a few simple swaps and you can accommodate anyone (see the variations below).

I promise, this will quickly become your favorite chocolate cake recipe!

👩‍🍳 Why This Recipe Works

  • Made with fresh orange juice
  • Decadent chocolate ganache frosting
  • A hint of orange flavor
  • Easy to make and freeze
  • Delicious as cupcakes too!
  • Vegan & gluten-free option
  • Moist chocolate orange cake
  • No orange extract
  • Tender chocolate cake layers

Latest Recipe Video!

🥘 Ingredients

This chocolate orange fudge cake requires simple ingredients found at your local grocery store. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients for easy chocolate orange cake recipe.
  • Oat Milk & Lemon Juice: Oat milk and lemon juice create a dairy-free buttermilk. You can swap the oat milk with whole milk if that’s what you have.
  • Brown Sugar: Adds a rich caramel-like sweetness! The molasses in the brown sugar reacts with the baking soda to make a light and fluffy cake.
  • Coconut Sugar & Salt: If you don’t have coconut sugar, swap it with white sugar. Salt won’t make your cake salty. It accentuates the sweetness and flavors of the cake.
  • Baking Powder & Baking Soda: Leavening agents create carbon dioxide bubbles that make the batter rise in the oven. Without them, the cake would be dense.
  • Natural Cocoa Powder: Unsweetened cocoa powder gives the cake its chocolatey flavor. For a darker chocolate cake, use dutch cocoa powder instead of natural.
  • All-Purpose Flour: All-purpose flour has the right amount of protein to give you a sturdy yet soft cake. Avoid bread flour or whole wheat flour for this recipe.
  • Orange Zest & Orange Juice: The orange peel contains plenty of citrusy, natural orange flavor! Try not to get any white pith though since it’s bitter. For the juice, fresh oranges are best! Squeeze navel orange juice into a measuring cup and remove any seeds.
  • Olive Oil: It’s best to use a light-flavored olive oil so it doesn’t overpower the flavors of the cake. Vegetable oil, canola oil, or melted coconut oil also work.
  • Eggs: Eggs provide structure and richness. Always use large eggs unless otherwise specified.
  • Instant Coffee & Boiling Water: The boiling water hydrates the coffee powder before you add it to the batter. It won’t make your orange chocolate cake taste like coffee. It will intensify the rich chocolate flavor.
  • Dark Chocolate & Cream: For the ganache frosting! For a sweeter ganache, use milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate. For best results, use a high-quality chocolate bar or high-quality chocolate chips like Ghirardelli. Hot cream melts the chocolate and makes it silky smooth.

📖 Variations

This chocolate orange layer cake is easy to customize to fit your needs!

  • Vegan Orange Chocolate Cake: Swap the eggs with flax eggs and the cream with coconut cream. Be sure to buy a vegan brand of dark chocolate.
  • Gluten Free Chocolate Orange Cake: Swap the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend that contains xanthan gum. I recommend Bob’s Red Mill’s 1:1 Gluten Free Baking Flour.
  • Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake: Bake the chocolate cake in a bundt cake pan. Once the bundt cake is cool, spread the frosting over top.
  • How To Convert Chocolate Cake To Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a couple cupcake pans with cupcake liners. Fill 2/3 ro 3/4 full and bake for about 15-20 minutes. (You may have to adjust the baking time – you know the cupcakes are ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

🔪 How To Make Chocolate Orange Cake

Preheat Oven, Make Buttermilk: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk together the oat milk and lemon juice. Set aside.

Wet ingredients for orange chocolate cake mixed in a mixing bowl.

Combine Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, coconut sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, flour, and orange zest.

Dry ingredients for cake combined in a mixing bowl.

Combine Wet Ingredients, Mix With Dry: Add the orange juice, oil, and eggs to the oat milk mixture and whisk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well.

Wet ingredients and dry ingredients for cake batter mixed in a mixing bowl.

Add Coffee Mixture: In a separate bowl, mix the boiling water and instant coffee. Stir the coffee mixture into the cake batter.

Chocolate ganache for chocolate orange layer cake in a mixing bowl.

Bake Choc Orange Cake: Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake until a skewer comes out clean – about 45 to 50 minutes. If the top of the cake starts to brown too quickly, cover it with aluminum foil.

Chocolate cake batter added to cake tin.

Let Cake Cool: Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing from the 8 inch cake pan and transferring to a cooling rack. This gives it time to set up so it won’t break.

Baked chocolate orange layer cake in a cake pan lined with parchment paper.

Chop Chocolate, Heat Cream: Finely chop the dark chocolate and place into a heatproof bowl. Place 1/2 cup of cream and the orange zest into a microwave-safe container and heat until steaming. Be careful not to let it overflow.

Chocolate shavings mixed with heavy cream in a mixing bowl.

Pour Cream Over Chocolate: Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Place the ganache into the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

Chocolate ganache in a mixing bowl.

Whip Ganache: Place the ganache into the bowl of a stand mixer with 3/4 cup of cream and whip until fluffy.

Chocolate frosting whipped in a stand mixer.

Slice Cake: Wait for the cake to cool, then use a serrated knife to cut the orange chocolate cake in half. Make sure to level your cake before frosting it (if your cake has a slight dome shape, slice off the top piece so it’s flat before frosting it).

Orange chocolate cake sliced into two pieces on a cutting board.

Frost Cake: Use an offset spatula to spread half of the orange chocolate frosting in an even layer over the first layer of the cake, then top with the second layer of cake.

Chocolate frosting applied to chocolate fudge cake.

Finish: Pipe or spread the remaining ganache over top of the cake, then finish with grated orange zest, orange slices, and grated chocolate.

Finished chocolate orange cake topped with chocolate frosting and orange zest on a wooden cutting board.

❓ Recipe FAQs

Does chocolate and orange go together?

Yes! Chocolate and orange are a luscious combination. An orange is bright and fruity, while chocolate is rich and intense. They balance each other out in the best way! This is why Terry’s chocolate oranges and chocolate dipped orange slices are so popular around Christmastime.

How do you add orange flavor to baking?

There are a few ways to add deep orange flavor to your baked goods without using any artificial flavors or ingredients. Try fresh orange zest (from 1-2 medium oranges), or dried orange zest, or orange extract, or orange oil.

What frosting goes well on chocolate orange sponge cake?

Chocolate ganache frosting is a delicious choice, but chocolate, vanilla, or orange buttercream frosting work great too! You could also use a vanilla or chocolate cream cheese frosting.

How should I store dark chocolate orange cake?

Store leftover cake in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Since the ganache frosting is made with heavy cream, it needs to be refrigerated.

Can I freeze chocolate and orange cake?

Yes! You can freeze it assembled or unassembled. If you want to freeze the cake unassembled, let the cake layers cool to room temperature, then wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 3 months. To freeze assembled, cut the cake into slices and place the cake slices onto a sheet pan. Place the sheet pan in the freezer until the cake slices are frozen. Transfer the slices to a freezer bag and use within 3 months. Thaw on the counter.

💭 Expert Tips

  • Be sure to chop the chocolate into fine pieces to ensure it melts completely. If the chocolate doesn’t melt you can heat the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir to melt fully.
  • The best chocolate to use: Use a high quality baking chocolate — I like 70% percent dark chocolate because it’s rich in flavor, slightly sweet, but also reduces the sugar content of the frosting.
  • Cooling the cake is super important: You want to cool the cake on a wire rack before you frost it so that the frosting doesn’t melt. Also, don’t try to unmold this gooey chocolate orange cake right away. Hot cake falls apart!
  • Do not boil the cream when heating it in the microwave. It should just begin to steam.
  • Don’t skip the parchment paper! It is essential to removing the cake from the pan seamlessly and making sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
  • Make sure to level your cake before frosting it: Cut off the slight dome shape and make it flat. It will make it so much easier to frost and stack your cake!
Chocolate orange cake topped with orange slices and a chocolate ganache frosting on a white cake board.

🍫 More Chocolate Dessert Recipes!

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📋 Recipe Card

Chocolate orange cake topped with orange slices and a chocolate ganache frosting on a white cake board.
Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes

Chocolate Orange Cake

This chocolate orange cake boasts a deeply rich and moist chocolate cake topped with a dark chocolate orange ganache! It's a chocolate lover's dream. It's easy to make with a vegan and gluten-free option.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Chill Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Baking, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian
Servings: 20 servings
Calories: 324kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

For The Cake

  • ¾ cup oat milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • cup cocoa powder
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup light flavored olive oil
  • 2 eggs, room temperature (Vegan: Sub with 2 flax eggs)
  • 1 tbsp boiling water
  • 1 tsp dried instant coffee

For The Frosting

  • 12 ounces dark chocolate (Vegan: Sub with vegan chocolate)
  • cup cream (Vegan: Sub with coconut cream)
  • 1 tbsp orange zest

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F / 180 C. Line an 8 inch round cake pan with baking paper and set aside.
  • Whisk together the oat milk and lemon juice, set aside.
  • In a separate mixing bowl whisk the brown sugar, coconut sugar, salt, baking powder and soda, cocoa powder, flour and orange zest until well combined.
  • Add the orange juice, oil and eggs (or flax eggs if using) to the oat milk mixture and whisk.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  • In a separate bowl mix the boiling water and instant coffee.
  • Stir the coffee mixture into the cake batter and mix until incorporated.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If the cake is starting to brown before it is cooked cover it with foil to prevent it from burning.
  • Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a cooling rack.
  • Prepare the chocolate ganache: Finely chop the dark chocolate and place into a heat proof bowl.
  • Place ½ cup cream and orange zest into a microwave safe container and heat until steaming.
  • Pour hot cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to become firm.
  • Place the firm ganache into the bowl of a stand mixer along with ¾ cup cream (or coconut cream if using) and whip until fluffy.
  • Slice the cake in half with a serrated knife.
  • Spread ½ of the ganache, in an even layer, over the cake base. Add the top layer of cake, finish off with remaining ganache, orange zest and grated chocolate.

Video

https://youtu.be/-X6uMULugis

Notes

  • Make this cake vegan using the substitutions mentioned in the ingredients list above.
  • Substitute the flour with 1:1 gluten free baking flour to make this recipe gluten free.
  • Leftover cake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Use 70% or higher dark chocolate to reduce the sugar content.
  • Do not boil the cream when heating, just heat it until it begins to steam.
  • Be sure to chop the chocolate into fine pieces to ensure it melts completely. If the chocolate doesn’t melt, you can heat the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds and stir to melt fully.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 324kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 34mg | Sodium: 143mg | Potassium: 285mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 21g

Posted In…

Plant Based Desserts ·

Indulge your sweet tooth with some of my delicious, lightened-up treats! From vegan vanilla pudding to gluten-free brownies to microwave peanut butter fudge, there’s something for everyone!

All of these desserts are healthier than their traditional counterparts, and many have gluten free and/or vegan alternatives. But the most important part is that they are all so tasty, so satisfying, and are total crowd pleasers!

Be sure to try other reader favorites like this healthy hot chocolate, our healthy edible vegan cookie dough, and these peanut butter bliss balls!

8 responses to “Chocolate Orange Cake”

  1. A great dessert to take care of that sweet tooth craving. Absolutely delicious and perfect for our family gathering.5 stars

  2. Orange and chocolate are a perfect flavor combination. Thank you for this delicious cake recipe, and all of the detailed instructions for baking success.5 stars

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