Sometimes a rich and decadent cake is all you can need. And I feel you, and I gotchu. My boozy blood orange chocolate cake will hit the spot every time, especially during the winter, the height of citrus season. A rich chocolate cake recipe, infused with Grand Marnier and blood orange juice. The cake is then drizzled with Grand Marnier simple syrup (you get a twofer with this, as it is the syrup to poach the oranges) to keep it extra moist and boozy. And then draped in a glorious chocolate ganache and topped with candied orange slices. A showstopper for guests, the perfect Valentine's dessert or just cause you want some decadence in your life.
It seems like there is a drought of good produce in the winter, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Winter brings out the very best citrus fruits, and there is so many great things you can do with them, in addition to this blood orange cake.
And while I am a fan of most all citrus, the blood orange seems to be my favorite and I use them in so many things. Blood orange sorbet is light and refreshing and much needed after the heavy eating of the holidays. And blood orange creme brulee is my go-to Valentine's Day dessert.
The chocolate cake recipe is different than my typical chocolate cake recipe. The cake is richer and denser, which lends itself perfectly to the boozy simple syrup and chocolate ganache that gets drizzled over the top. Here's what you need
- Baking powder
- Semi sweet chocolate.
- Butter. Now I am an oil based cake baker. But this cake is little different. The butter gets melted with the chocolate, similar to a brownie, helping to give it a dense and rich fudgy texture.
- Brown sugar. Just a little adds extra moisture and a complimentary flavor to the chocolate.
- Grand Marnier. This is my personal orange liqueur of choice (mostly because I always have it), but you can use triple sec or whatever orange liqueur you like.
- Blood oranges. For the juice and the zest. You can most definitely use regular oranges for juice if you can't get your hands on blood oranges/
- Sour cream. Always a great addition to a chocolate cake recipe to keep it moist.
- Simple syrup. See below for how to get the simple syrup.
How to make candied oranges (and simple syrup)
Making candied oranges and Grand Marnier simple syrup is super simple and something you'll want to do for more than just this cake recipe. Here's what you need:
- Blood oranges, cut into thick slices.
- Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
Boil the sugar and the water until all the sugar dissolves. Add your orange slices and continue boiling until the oranges are nice and soft and the syrup has reduced and thickened. Remove the orange slices (do this carefully so they stay intact) and add the Grand Marnier to the simple syrup.
You can store the syrup in the fridge for weeks. And trust me any extra you don't add to this boozy blood orange chocolate cake will be used up in no time. This makes the most amazing cocktails or mocktails you can imagine.
How to make the chocolate ganache
Ganache is one of the simplest, most elegant ways to finish a cake. It's glossy shine and rich decadent taste is the perfect finish to a boozy chocolate cake recipe. This ganache recipe is made simply with chocolate, butter and corn syrup. The corn syrup helps keep the ganache soft, and shiny.
WHile blood orange may be my favorite, here is some ways to adapt this cake that are equally delicious
- Use a different kind of orange. With so many great varieties out at this time of year, choose what you like!
- Use a different flavor profile. So many liqueurs and fruit lend themselves to chocolate cake. Red currants make a wonderful simple syrup with a little creme de cassis for a boozy punch.
- Leave out the liqueur entirely. Simply substitute additional fresh orange juice in place of the liqueur in both the cake and the simple syrup.
Tips for success
A few things to ensure this boozy blood orange cake turns out great.
- Line the bottom of the cake pan with parchment. THis is a rich and dense cake that you don't want to overbake (it will lose it's fudgy texture). Lining the bottom with a cut out round of parchment will ensure that the cake doesn't stick to the bottom.
- Don't overbake. You don't want to lose that fudgy, rich texture.
- Don't overmix the cake batter. This is something that can be hard to overcome - I still do it sometimes. Once you mix in the dry ingredients, overmixing can overactivate the gluten in the flour resulting in a tougher cake. WHen adding the dry ingredient JUST mix them in with a spatula or wooden spoon. Don't whisk them or use a stand mixer. Like brownies, you ant to fold and stir in the flour, not beat it in.
- Sauce pan for the double boiler
For the simple syrup and candied blood oranges
- 3 blood oranges
- 2 ½ cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoon Grand Marnier
For the cake
- 2 cups flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 16 oz semi sweet chocolate chopped or two cups of chocolate chips
- 8 oz butter two sticks, cut into pieces
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
- 1 tablespoon blood orange juice use regular oranges if you don't have blood oranges
- 2 teaspoon blood orange zest again use regular oranges if you need
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup sour cream
For the chocolate glaze
- 6 oz semi sweet chocolate chopped or use ¾ cup of chocolate chips
- 4 oz butter 1 stick
- 2 tablespoon dark corn syrup
- pinch of salt
For the candied blood oranges
- Slice the oranges with peel into 1,2-¾ inch slices. In large saucepan, combine the water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil. Add orange slices to the water/sugar mixture and continue to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until orange peel is soft and the syrup has reduced and thickened. Make sure to flip the orange slices over and around a bit in the syrup. This should cook for about 30-35 minutes.
- Remove from heat and pull out the oranges slices. Stir in orange liqueur and set the syrup aside to soak the cake.
To make the cake
- Heat the oven to 325 and make sure to have a rack positioned in the middle of the oven. Grease a 9-inch cake round and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine chocolate and butter in large bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and heat until the chocolate and butter are completely melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and saucepan and add both sugars, Grand Marnier, orange juice and zest. Whisk until blended (mixture will look grainy and that's ok). Add the eggs, and whisk until just blended. Whisk in sour cream. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon just until incorporated. Pour into the greased pan; spread evenly. Bake about 50 minutes until set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and using a tothpick poke a few tiny holes into the cake - do not go all the way through to the bottom, just about mid way through the cake. Spoon some of the simple syrup mixture over the top of the cake - it will soak into the holes.
- Cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Then take out of the pan and cool completely. Remove from pan by turning upside down to get out and the flipping back up to make sure the syrup doesn't leak out.
To make the glaze
- Combine chocolate and butter in small bowl. et bowl over saucepan of simmering water and heat until the chocolate and butter are completely melted. Whisk in the corn syrup and the salt. Cool the glaze for a few minutes until it thicken a but, but you can still pour it.
- Pour the glaze onto the cake and spread around the cake with a spatula. Garnish with the candied blood orange slices.