This recipe in various forms has been floating around the internet for a while, but it's still an excellent, can't fail cake that someone with a sophisticated palate will enjoy... and you DO have one of those, don't you? Now don't be put off by my horrid cake decorating -- after all, it was for home consumption and I just could not resist the opportunity to do something fun (see Play With Your Food). The cake has simple but strong flavors, blending the bitterness and intensity of whole oranges with the mellowness of cocoa powder, some tooth supplied by the ground almonds and all of it topped with the satisfying sweetness of dark chocolate ganache. I've been using Pernigotti cocoa powder (it's not Dutch, it's Italian!) and think it adds an extra dimension of chocolateyness. Surprisingly, I make the cake fairly regularly -- in between the brownie and fruit pie seasons. This recipe came from the Esurientes - The Comfort Zone blog (which sadly may be abandoned), and has very good instructions and pictures. Check out the original post, from July 15, 2005 here. I've added my own notes of course, and yes I am a weighing baker, so no conversions for you!
Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake
Inspired by both Claudia Roden & Nigella Lawson
Whole seedless Oranges, approx 375 g (about 2 large)
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
200 g ground toasted almonds
150 g caster sugar
50 g Dutch cocoa
200 g very dark chocolate
200 ml heavy cream
Put the whole, unpeeled oranges in a saucepan with cold water to cover and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and cook for about 2 hours or until soft (poke with a fork, like potatoes). Drain, and when cool, cut the oranges in quarters and remove anything that won't easily puree like seeds, giant hunks of pithy stem ends, etc. Place the quartered oranges -- peel, pith and all -- in a food processor and process until smooth. Often it's best to complete the cooking of the fruit the day before. I usually boil and process several oranges at once, measuring out 375g for this recipe, then freezing the rest of the puree for future use.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Use cooking spray or grease the inside of an 8" (20cm) dia. springform pan, and lay a parchment circle on the bottom. Add the eggs, baking powder, baking soda, almonds, sugar and cocoa to the oranges in the food processor. Process until you have what looks like a cake mixture with maybe a few knobbly bits of orange. Pour and scrape into the pan and bake for one hour, by which time a skewer should emerge fairly clean. Start checking after 45 minutes, as you may have to cover with foil to stop the surface from burning. Let the cake cool before attempting to remove it from the pan. To make the ganache, heat the cream until scalding hot and add the chocolate off the heat. Mix until combined, then whisk until the mixture cools and becomes thick and glossy. Apply the ganache with a spatula or cake knife, and decorate with pieces of orange peel or whatever else strikes your fancy if you're planning to eat it at home. Sometimes I pipe little dots or swirls with the leftover orange puree, but very sparingly because it's quite bitter (not unlike the cook!).