When my dad and brothers eat out at a restaurant, they always order the “Death by Chocolate” dessert, so when I bake a cake for the family at Christmas, I always try to make something very chocolatey. If I don’t, I’ll get comments like, “This cake is good… but there isn’t enough chocolate.” Last year I made this Deep Dark Chocolate Cake, which was a chocolate layer cake made with black cocoa filled with raspberry jam and topped with both a whipped and poured chocolate ganache.
Chocolate and orange together have always seemed rather Christmassy to me, probably in part due to the seasonal nature of citrus during the winter, and also because my family has sometimes bought those chocolates that are infused with orange that you smack on the table and come away with individual slices of chocolate. This year, I planned a chocolate orange bundt with a poured chocolate ganache on top. (I’m finally ready to face bundt pans again after doing Micah and Casey’s many-bundt wedding cake in September.)
I’ve seen this Cook’s Illustrated chocolate cake recipe talked about all over the internet for ages, and it always seemed like a pain to me. Really? Cocoa and bittersweet chocolate? Boiling water for a cake? But here’s the great thing about using the boiling water – it means that you don’t have to melt down the chocolate in a double boiler, so you don’t have to wash that extra pan, but you still get the lovely richness from the chopped chocolate.
I’ve adapted the recipe to add orange extract and orange zest to add flavor without disrupting the dry/liquid balance of this tried and true recipe. It really came out wonderfully, a cake that wasn’t too sweet and was perfectly complimented by the poured ganache. It looked beautiful on our holiday table and was wonderful with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, it would be wonderful for the new year!
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa (2 1/4 ounces)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup water (boiling)
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
2 cups light brown sugar (I used a scant two cups rather than packed two cups to cut back on the sugar a bit)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 teaspoons orange extract
zest of 1 orange
5 large eggs, room temperature
1 batch of poured ganache
Grease and lightly dust a 12-cup Bundt pan with cocoa powder. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine cocoa, chocolate in medium heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature, then whisk in sour cream. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in second bowl to combine.
In stand mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and orange extract on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, mixing about 30 seconds after each addition and scraping down bowl with rubber spatula after first 2 additions.
Reduce to medium-low speed; add about one third of flour mixture and half of chocolate/sour cream mixture and mix until just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Scrape bowl and repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining chocolate mixture; add remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 10 seconds. Scrape bowl and mix on medium-low until batter is thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Add orange zest and stir. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan, being careful not to pour batter on sides of pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F until wooden skewer inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 50 minutes to an hour. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto parchment-lined wire rack.
Prepare the ganache (Recipe is in a separate post here) and pour it over the cake. Let the ganache set (this could take a few hours). Keep refrigerated until a few minutes before serving. Serve with fresh whipped cream.