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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 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.
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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
This chocolate orange fudge cake requires simple ingredients found at your local grocery store. Here’s what you need:
- 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.
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.
Combine Dry Ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, coconut sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, flour, and orange zest.
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.
Add Coffee Mixture: In a separate bowl, mix the boiling water and instant coffee. Stir the coffee mixture into the cake batter.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Whip Ganache: Place the ganache into the bowl of a stand mixer with 3/4 cup of cream and whip until fluffy.
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).
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.
Finish: Pipe or spread the remaining ganache over top of the cake, then finish with grated orange zest, orange slices, and grated chocolate.
❓ Recipe FAQs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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📋 Recipe Card
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.
Servings: 20 servings
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.
- 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.
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