This Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake is a stunning, 7 ingredient dessert made entirely in your blender.
You know the feeling you get when you meet someone and instantly connect? It might be the way they talk, a certain word they use, or the books stacked on their shelves, but something clicks, and you know this is one of your people. The other day, I went to a friend’s house and noticed her movie collection included all the seasons of 24, the Anne of Green Gables trilogy, and all the seasons of Gilmore Girls. I immediately knew she was a kindred spirit.
The crazy thing is, I often have this feeling about people I’ve never even met. Or (nerd alert), people who don’t even exist. If Anne of Green Gables were real, we would for sure be BFFs or, as she would say, bosom friends. I feel the same way about Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Jess from New Girl. I just feel like we’d get each other, ya know?
I’d never really been into cooking shows until I saw one of Nigella Lawson’s shows. That woman gets me. I simply love her approach to cooking and baking. It’s elegant without being fussy, which really describes her as a person as well. This is a woman who licks the spatula, eats leftovers straight out of the fridge, and doesn’t bother if a few lemon seeds happen to slip into her cake. She doesn’t spend hours obsessing over the way her food looks, yet she makes some of the most irresistible looking dishes I’ve ever seen. When something turns out a bit lopsided or cracked, she doesn’t fret, she simply says “that’s how they’ll know it’s homemade!” She’s my kind of baker.
This Chocolate Orange Cake comes from the great Nigella, and it’s the epitome of what her baking is like. It’s incredibly simple-only 7 ingredients!-and it all comes together in a blender. That’s right. There’s no creaming, no mixing wet ingredients in one bowl and dry in the next. It’s all done with just a few pulses on your blender. See why I love her so much?
This cake also happens to be flourless, getting its structure and texture instead from hazelnut flour, which is really just very finely ground hazelnuts. I used Bob’s Red Mill Hazelnut Meal/Flour.
Now, if you think chocolate and orange sounds a bit strange, I feel ya. I was skeptical as well, but intrigued enough to try it. The recipe actually begins by boiling oranges for 2 hours until they’re soft and tender. Don’t worry, no hands on work is required during this time. All you do is toss them in a pot, cover, and let them go. By the way, this is also a great way to make your house smell amazing.
Once the oranges are soft they get pureed, whole, with all of the other ingredients. I’ll be honest, I was REALLY skeptical about this part. I thought grinding up the peel and pith with everything else would most certainly result in a bitter cake.
But Nigella was dead on with this one. This cake is dense and chocolatey with a punchy orange flavor. It’s not bitter but rather earthy; the citrus tones are mellowed but still quite pronounced. One word of warning: this cake does not have the texture you would expect from a traditional flour cake. It’s not fluffy or light, but instead substantial and rich with a very moist, nutty crumb.
There are a million different ways you could dress this cake up. Ganache would be a lovely, decadent addition as would a whipped cream cheese frosting. But I wanted to tay true to the spirit of Nigella and go the easy but classy route for the adornments. A light dusting of powdered sugar is like a string of pearls on this cake…classic, elegant, and fitting for a fancy dinner party or just a quiet evening at home. Feel free to add a few curled orange peels to the top, or simply leave it bare. This cake is sure to turn heads, whether you accessorize it or not.
Tell me, who are your real (or fictional) kindred spirits? What makes them “get” you?
Chocolate Orange Cake
- 2 small oranges
- 6 large eggs
- 1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups finely ground hazelnuts, or store bought hazelnut meal (can substitute almond meal as well)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, optional
- Powdered sugar, optional
- Place the oranges in a medium sauce pan and cover with water. Bring the pot to a boil then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until oranges are soft, about 2 hours.
- Once the oranges are cool enough to handle, slice them in half and remove any large seeds.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the oranges in a blender and pulse until smooth. You should end up with about 1½ cups of puree. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the powdered sugar, to the blender. Pulse a few times, stir, and then pulse, repeating until the mixture is well combined.
- Grease an 8 inch round spring form pan. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson
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