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Blood Orange Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting

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A sweet ingénue orange + buttermilk cake falls in love with an irresistible, worldly chocolate frosting. The rest is delicious decadence.

Blood Orange Cake with Dark Chocolate Frosting


  • For the cake:
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • grated zest of two blood oranges (regular oranges are fine, too) *save oranges for juicing
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 4 room temperature eggs
  • 1 tsp pure almond extract
  • ½ cup room temperature buttermilk (just measure it out and let it sit on the counter for about 20 minutes)
  • 1 Tablespoon *fresh orange juice
  • ½ cup room temperature sour cream
  • For the frosting:
  • 3 ½ cups confectioners' sugar
  • ½ cup dark cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup room temperature butter, divided in half and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup half & half cream
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 4 oz dark chocolate orange bar, chopped (I used Lindt's Intense Orange Dark Chocolate)


  1. Prepare the cake:
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Butter three 8" round x 2" high cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper, butter the parchment, then dust entire pan with flour
  3. In stand mixer bowl, combine granulated sugar and orange zest. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into sugar until moist & aromatic; set aside to "marinate."
  4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda & salt; set aside.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together the butter milk, orange juice & sour cream; set aside.
  6. Add butter to the orange-infused sugar. Using the paddle attachment, beat on med speed until fluffy (about 5-8 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition + scraping down the bowl as needed. Add almond extract and beat on med-high speed for about 5 minutes or until batter is light and voluminous.
  8. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the flour (try not to overmix the batter).
  9. Divide evenly among prepared pans.
  10. Bake 25-30 minutes or until cake tops are springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted through the center comes out with a small bit of crumb. {Note: rotate cakes once during baking time.}
  11. Remove cakes from oven and place onto cooling rack. Cool for about 50 minutes before releasing cakes from pan and removing parchment paper. Well covered, the baked cakes can be refrigerated for two days.
  12. Prepare the frosting:
  13. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, and salt; set aside
  14. Have your stand mixer bowl nearby (but not yet hooked up to machine). Have the whisk attachment on hand, too.
  15. In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine ¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) of butter, brown sugar, cream and orange juice. Stirring over med-low heat, cook until lethargic, small bubbles develop. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until mixture thickens up a bit and turns deep golden brown (about 6-10 minutes, depending on the heat).
  16. Pour mixture into stand mixer bowl. Add remaining pieces of butter (4 Tablespoons), cream and orange juice; stir till butter is melted. Add chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Attach bowl to stand mixer and, using whisk attachment, slowly beat in confectioners' sugar/cocoa mixture on low speed until well combined. Once everything has been added, turn mixer to med-low and beat for about 30 seconds.
  17. Stirring time to time, allow frosting to come to room temperature. Refrigerate bowl for about 20-30 minutes or until frosting reaches a spreadable consistency. {Note: if it hardens too much, whip it up again with the stand mixer.
  18. Assemble the cake:
  19. Place one cake layer onto desired serving plate. Use an offset spatula to frost the top. Don't be shy with the frosting, there will be a lot to go around. Repeat with remaining two cake layers then frost the edges.

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