I try and refrain from saying things like "this is the best" or "this is my most favorite" on this blog mostly because those superlatives are always changing. I spend so much of my time reading food blogs, cookbooks, and magazines and then trying new recipes that very few things remain consistent (except for my Mom's cooking, that is always the best). My tastes and opinions are ever evolving. (Which I think is the whole point of cooking now isn't it?)
With that being said, this cake may qualify as the best chocolate cake I have ever made. (No really, it is.)
Minutes after icing it, I ate a healthy slice of it. I wasn't expecting to be blown away, it's a chocolate cake after all, I've eaten hundreds of slices of chocolate cake, but it was extraordinary. Extraordinary! The cake itself was rich with a deep and intense chocolate flavor. It was moist and perfectly dense which is exactly how I like my chocolate cake. The icing is everything I love in icing. Creamy yet not cloyingly sweet with a subtle tang (sour cream is so necessary in desserts). The orange comes through yet doesn't overpower (what's better then orange and chocolate?) and it's pink!
Make this. Now.
Deep Chocolate Cake with Orange Icing
Recipe adapted from Food52
I changed around the frosting a little so it uses only items most people would have on hand (like orange juice instead of orange extract and orange liquor). I also swapped out blood oranges for regular oranges since I clearly still had Valentine’s Day on the brain. I can’t deny my love for pink.
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup strong coffee (or use instant espresso)
½ cup unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
Heat the oven to 350°F, first positioning a rack in the center of the oven. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
Combine the brown sugar, coffee, butter and chocolate in a medium heavy saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the butter and chocolate are almost completely melted. Remove from the heat and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla and set aside to cool.
When the chocolate mixture is about at room temperature, add the eggs and using a wooden spoon, stir well to combine. Add the dry ingredients and the milk in stages, alternating between the two and stirring well between each addition. (The batter should be fairly smooth, but it’s okay if you end up with some small lumps.)
Pour the batter into a greased pan measuring roughly 8 1/2” x 11” and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the center of the cake springs back when you press it lightly with your finger and a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack and then ice (recipe below).
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 ½ tablespoon orange zest
2 -3 teaspoons orange juice or concentrated orange syrup (by cooking down the orange juice)
1 tablespoon mascarpone or sour cream
1 – 2 tablespoon milk
Using a wooden spoon, combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in in the zest, orange juice/orange syrup and mascarpone/sour cream, and then switch to a whisk to attack any lumps. Gradually whisk in the milk, adding just enough to make the icing spreadable.