I had a certain post in mind today. Something new that I’d like to see on here as a regular monthly post, but, as it often does, life got in the way and I needed to do something else for today. That’s why…
…yesterday, I decided to make a cake. I knew right away what the flavors would be, and that it would be Halloween themed. I adore Halloween. Really, really. It’s, by far, my favorite holiday, so I was excited to finally do something geared towards All Hallow’s Eve.
This, my friends, is a chocolate orange layer cake. It has chocolate layers. It has orange layers. It has rich chocolate filling and orange buttercream frosting. It has dark chocolate ganache on top. And it was totally fun to make!! The swirls on the outside of the cake were made using leftover filling after the cake was assembled and frosted. I just used a pastry bag fitted with a writing tip to draw them all over the sides of the cake, then I poured the yummy ganache in the center of the cake and let it run over the edges.
These little fondant pumpkins turned out to be the most fun to make. Ohmigoodness, these are adorable. And unbelievably easy too. I had planned on maybe doing some little ghosties because they’re so simple, but I did these instead, on the advice of my sister. She was totally right…these are perfect!
If you want to make some, it’s not difficult at all. Just roll a piece of fondant into a ball or oval, then set it on a counter that is very lightly dusted with sugar. Gently press the very top of the pumpkin down in order to flatten the bottom and make the pumpkin less perfectly round. Next, press a small round tool (I used sculpting tools) into the top of the pumpkin to mark a place for the stem. For the “stripes” around the pumpkin, use a toothpick to gently press into the fondant, at even intervals, all the way around.
For the stem, shape a small piece of green fondant into a cone or cylinder. Put a tiny dab of water on the end and gently press it into the indentation on the pumpkin. For a more elaborate stem, elongate it by rolling it gently through your fingers. Press it to the pumpkin, as before, but shape the end so that it curls in a fun way. Since the pumpkin is so small, it will hold it’s shape easily. Last, but not least, use a black food write to draw the funny faces on.
Okay, so the pumpkins are fun, but check this out:
Is this cool or what? Rather than just do two or three layers, I thought that a bunch of thin layers would be more interesting, and a fun surprise when the cake is cut. To do this, I used one basic batter, then divided it in half. One half had chocolate added to it, while the other got orange flavor. Then I simply baked the layers in small batches until I was out of batter! I used eight-inch pans, lined with parchment, each filled with about two-thirds of a cup of batter. It only took about ten minutes for them to bake, and I was able to do two layers at a time. I wouldn’t recommend putting layers on the top and bottom racks of the oven, because they will not bake evenly.
Once all of the layers have cooled, start stacking them.
I started with orange on the bottom, then frosted the top of it with the chocolate filling (sorry for the poor quality photo). I spread the frosting to about one-inch from the edge of the cake. If you spread the filling all the way to the edge, it will probably mix with your orange frosting, so leave that one-inch ‘barrier’ in there (the orange frosting will fill it in). Next, layer a chocolate layer on top and frost it like you did the orange layer, then just repeat that process until you’ve used all of your layers.
Once you’ve got the whole cake stacked, you can frost it with the orange frosting and decorate, as desired. I used leftover chocolate filling to pipe swirls all over the sides of the cake before adding rich chocolate ganache to the top.
This cake could easily be altered to suit any holiday. It wasn’t difficult to make at all, but you do need to devote at least an hour to baking it, since so many layers to cook. It’s really completely worth the time and effort, though. And you can make the design as minimalistic or as frilly as you like. Definitely give this fun cake a try. Enjoy and happy Halloween!
Chocolate Orange Layer Cake
with Chocolate Filling and Orange Buttercream Frosting
Topped with Chocolate Ganache
Makes 1 10-layer, 8-inch round cake
FOR THE CAKE
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lb. sour cream
For the orange layers:
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
For the chocolate layers:
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cocoa powder
Food coloring, if desired
FOR THE CHOCOLATE FILLING
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup cocoa powder
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk, as needed
FOR THE ORANGE BUTTERCREAM
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
5-6 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 tablespoons milk, as needed
To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line up to 10 8-inch round pans with parchment.
In a small bowl, combine the boiling water and cocoa powder; set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl, as needed. Stir in the vanilla. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture into the bowl and beat until just combined. Add half of the sour cream, mix until combined, then scrape the bowl. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and sour cream, mixing until everything is combined.
Divide the batter in half evenly. To one half, gently stir in the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. To the other half, stir in the orange zest and juice until combined. Add orange and/or black food coloring to the different batters, if desired. Place about 2/3 cup of batter into each pan, alternating between the 2 flavors, until you have an equal amount of chocolate layers versus orange layers. Bake up to 3 layers at a time for 10 minutes. Cool completely before stacking and decorating.
To make the filling: In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the boiling water and cocoa; set aside to cool. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and about a third of the confectioners’ sugar. Stir in the cocoa and mix thoroughly before beating in another third of the confectioners’ sugar. Next stir in the vanilla and the remaining sugar, beating until well mixed and light and fluffy. Add more milk, as needed, if the frosting is too thick. Add coloring as desired.
To make the frosting: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar. Stir in the zest and juice, and mix thoroughly before beating in another 2 more cups of the confectioners’ sugar. Next stir in the vanilla and the remaining sugar, beating until well mixed and light and fluffy. Add the milk, as needed. Add coloring as desired.
Assemble the cake: Stack the cake layers, starting with orange on the bottom. Frost the top of the layer with the chocolate filling. Spread the frosting to about one-inch from the edge of the cake. Next, layer a chocolate layer on top and frost it like you did the orange layer. Repeat that process until you’ve used all of your layers.
Frost the outside of the cake with the orange buttercream. If desired, use leftover chocolate filling to pipe swirls onto the outside of the cake (I did only the sides).
Pour the (room temperature) ganache slowly on the center of the cake, allowing it to spread toward the edges. Do not pour too much ganache on at once, or it will completely cover the cake, rather than drizzling over the sides. As the ganache begins to reach the edges of the cake, use a small spatula, if necessary, to help the ganache begin to drizzle down the sides.
Garnish with fondant pumpkins or other decorations, if desired.
Recipe by Darla