This moist chocolate orange cake recipe is made even easier thanks to boxed cake mix, orange extracts, and zest working to create an aromatic and flavorful cake worthy of licking the plate clean after.
If you're looking for a cake that is as elegant as it is easy, this one is it. This chocolate and orange cake is so simple and easy to make and tastes so incredibly good. The orange isn't overpowering and is just visible enough that you can notice its presence.
That said the orange flavor is a bit stronger the next day, once it has time to concentrate and as such, I recommend making this choc orange cake a day before for the most fabulous of results.
Why This Recipe Works
- It's easy to make. This cake might look impressive and difficult, but the hardest part about it is having some patience. The ganache takes a while to set up in the fridge before being whipped, but you can easily prep it the night before for a faster prep on the day of.
- It's delicious. Not too sweet, not too fruity, this cake has found the perfect balance between all things tasty.
- It's perfect for any occasion. Whether you just want a cure for that sweet tooth craving you've got going on or you want a nice dessert for your anniversary, birthday, or holiday, this cake can be there for it all.
For the cake, you will need:
Boxed Cake Mix- I used Betty Crocker Delight's super moist chocolate fudge cake mix, but any good chocolate cake mix will do (Devil's Food cake, etc.)
Water- Boxed cake mixes often request water to help them out. You could use the amount requested per box.
Vegetable Oil- This is the fat that is needed in boxed cakes to make it moist. Your boxed cake mix will say how much oil to use, but melted butter could be used too.
Eggs- We need eggs to help bind the cake mix together and create a nice cakey texture.
Orange extract- We want orange extract because it's an orange concentrated flavor that we can't get from orange juice (I tried).
Orange zest- Adding in fresh orange zest will enhance the orange flavor and give a burst of freshness throughout the cake.
Sour Cream- Adding in sour cream makes the cake richer and even moister.
For the Ganache Frosting, you will need:
Chocolate- You can use semi-sweet, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate chips, a mixture of different chocolates, or even chopped chocolate bars. I don't recommend white chocolate as the process for ganache is different.
Heavy cream- Adding heavy cream makes our ganache perfectly thick, creamy, and rich. For a non-dairy version, you could use canned coconut milk.
Orange zest-We only need a little bit of this and it will be placed in the whipped ganache filling.
🍽 Equipment Needed
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Check out how to make chocolate orange cake with these simple step-by-step instructions:
Prepare the ganache as directed in the recipe card and store it in the fridge until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line 2 baking round cake pans with parchment paper and grease with cooking spray.
Beat together all of the cake ingredients until fluffy (about 2 minutes).
Divide the batter between the two prepped cake pans and bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean.
Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Remove a cup of chilled ganache and mix it with orange zest in a bowl. Beat until stiff peaks form.
Frost the top of a cake with the whipped ganache and layer the other cake on top.
Spread half of the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the cake to cover and frost well.
Place the last portion of the ganache into a piping bag with a fitted tip and pipe a nice border around the top and bottom of the cake.
Garnish with oranges as desired and serve or place in the fridge until ready to slice.
🍴 Recipe Tips
Nothing goes better with the taste of orange than a nice bittersweet chocolate but feel free to use milk chocolate if preferred. Personally, I opted for semi-sweet so every bitter, rich, tangy, sweet flavor was mine to savor. When combined with the sweet cake inside it wasn't overly sweet and was perfect.
The ganache frosting is the most time-consuming part and if at all possible, I'd recommend making it a day in advance and storing it in the fridge. It would make life a LOT easier.
For the whipped ganache frosting you have to have cold ganache and an electric mixer. The colder the ganache, the faster it whips.
For those in a hurry, make an ice bath in a square baking dish and rest a glass bowl full of the ganache and orange filling mixture while the other portion of the ganache rests in the freezer for up to 20 minutes.
With the ice bath, the whipped ganache will chill quickly while you're beating air into the mixture just be careful not to get water into the chocolate as it may seize.
To ready the chocolate ganache frosting for piping, it needs to be well chilled as well. It will warm up fairly quickly under the heat of your hands so it's best to work efficiently.
Another great thing to make sure to note is the lower baking time. Unlike the boxed cake instructions that request you to use 350F, we use 325F. This is IMPORTANT.
This is a tip given to me by my High School Culinary Arts teacher. If you lower the baking temp and extend the baking time cakes will bake flatter, so there is less leveling (if any) involved.
While I could have leveled my dark chocolate orange cake a tad, it wasn't necessary and it remained nice and moist. So lower temps mean less work and great results! If you bake at a higher temp your cake is more likely to have a dome that needs leveling.
Yes, this cake can be made up to a few days in advance or the ganache can be prepped up to two days in advance as well. Assembled or disassembled just keep it well covered in the fridge for safekeeping.
This cake is good for up to a week if stored covered in the fridge. Perfect for making sure you have plenty of time to enjoy every last bite.
More great dessert recipes to try
- Carrot Cake Banana Bread
- Banana Pound Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze
- Raspberry Lemon Bundt Cake
- Cake Mix Peanut Butter Blossoms
Chocolate Orange Cake
- 1 box (15.25oz) Chocolate cake mix ($1.24)
- 1 ¼ cups Water ($0.00)
- ½ cup Vegetable oil ($0.24)
- 3 large Eggs ($0.24)
- 2 teaspoon Pure orange extract ($0.04)
- 1 Tablespoon Orange zest ($0.04)
- ½ cup Sour cream ($0.40)
- 16 ounces Chocolate (about 2⅔ cups) ($1.98)
- 2 cups Heavy cream ($2.24)
- 1 teaspoon Orange zest (for the filling) ($0.01)
Ganache Frosting (prep BEFORE cake!)
- Place chocolate in a large mixing bowl and in a saucepan heat your cream until just barely boiling. There should be skin forming at the top of the cream and bubbles around the edge, or the pan, this is a good sign it's warm enough.
- Pour the hot cream over the top of the chocolate in the bowl. Place a lid or plate over the top of the bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes without touching.
- Remove lid/plate and whisk ganache until thick, creamy, and wonderful. It wil look like runny chocolate milk at first but it gets darker and thicker as you whisk.
- Once ganache is made, place in fridge to chill while you prep the cake.
- Prehat the oven to 325 degrees F and line two 8 inch cake rounds with parchment paper. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients for the cake. The cake mix, eggs, oil, water, extracts, zest, and sour cream.
- Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer until well combined and fluffy.
- Divide between two cake pans and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean.
- Let cool for 10 minutes in pan before flipping onto wire cooling racks and finish cooling completely.
- Remove one cup of chilled ganache and place it in a mixing bowl with one teaspoon of orange zest. Leave remaining ganache in fridge.
- Beat the orange and ganache mixture until stiff peaks form.
- Fill a plastic bag with snipped corner with the whipped ganache filling and spread it on top of one cooled cake layer. Spread it out evenly and then top with the other cake layer.
- Fill another baggie with snipped corner with half of the remaining ganache and spread it around the top and sides of the stacked cake, spreading it around to frost the entire thing evenly.
- Now grab a piping bag with fitted tip and fill it with the last half of chilled ganache. Pipe a border around the top and bottom of the cake.
- Top with orange slices, zest, or other garnishes and serve or place in fridge and let chill before serving. The ganache will continue to set as the cake chills.