Mmmmmm… cake. Moist, orange flavored, chocolate covered cake.
Guess what? This cake is not only rich and delicious, it’s also completely non-intimidating to make. No layers to cut, minimal decorating, and a really forgiving frosting. We’ve hit the cake jackpot my friends, and I think I can safely say that we’re all winners here. Cake winners (the best kind, duh).
I hosted book club this past week for some of the sweet ladies in my life, which in my mind automatically meant making a semi-fancy dessert. However, I wanted something that looked classy and pulled together, but didn’t require a lot of fuss.
You know how some desserts just feel fussed over?
We can probably thank Martha Stewart for some of that (whom I happen to love and watch on PBS most Saturday mornings; my life = extreme), but can we all collectively acknowledge that Pinterest has significantly raised the bar on what makes a dessert fancy now?
Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest as much as the next lady, but sometimes I just don’t want to mess with sprinkles, locating striped straws (oh the straws), ombre frosting layers, swirled tie dye color effects, and intricate frosting procedures that seem as tenuous as brain surgery.
Sometimes you just, want, cake.
Simple, gorgeous, orange zesty, chocolate ganache covered, sea salt edged cake.
If you’ve never made chocolate ganache before then you need to get this dessert into your life stat. It’s incredibly simple to make, looks SO fancy, and has this rich, lusciously smooth texture. It basically tastes like chocolate truffles, but served as frosting. Need I say more?
Ganache is made up of heavy cream and chocolate; that’s it. The cream is heated over medium heat until it just starts to bubble around the edges, and is then poured over the chocolate. Whisk the two together until smooth, and then let it cool until it has reached your desired consistency. I like to cheat and cool the ganache faster in the fridge, but if you’re patient you can certainly let it sit on the counter instead.
Food blogger confession: the ganache on my cake was actually a little over-cooled. Typically ganache is beautifully glossy and can simply be poured over whatever dessert your adding it to, but since mine was a bit over chilled I had to spoon it on the cake and spread it like regular frosting. Honestly, it felt like a food fail to me at the time, but it still tasted amazing and I ended up loving the rustic ganache look.
Sarah: 1; perfectionism: 0. Cooking isn’t about being perfect (something I will always need to remember).
After the cake is frosted, it should chill in the fridge until you’re ready to serve so the ganache doesn’t get too melty, remove the cake a half hour before you serve it, then add the sea salt rim around the edge (if you add the sea sat earlier it will become too moist and sweat in the fridge – I learned this the hard way).
A couple tips:
1. Greek yogurt can substitute for the ricotta if you don’t have it – you just want that extra creamy something to moisten the cake and make it more rich.
2. The buttermilk on the other hand shouldn’t be substituted; the extra acid in the milk reacts with the baking soda and gives the cake its beautiful tall rise. Buttermilk is basically just sour milk, and there are a few tricks to turn regular milk into buttermilk in a pinch. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of regular milk, let it sit for a few minutes (it should thicken and curdle a bit) and viola, easy diy buttermilk.
Now that you’re armed with a few kitchen tips, go class up your dessert life with this delicious cake – and before you go getting too high brow, be sure to save any extra ganache to devour with a spoon (or lets be honest, your fingers), because I will never be too snobby to lick a frosting bowl clean.
- Zest of a large orange
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup room temp. ricotta cheese
- ½ cup softened butter
- ¾ cup room temp. buttermilk
- 1 room temp. egg and 1 egg yolk
- 1⅔ cups flour
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1½ cups semi sweet chocolate chips
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8 inch cake pan.
- Zest the orange and using a spatula mix it into the sugar so that the oils release.
- Beat the sugar and softened butter together in a mixer on medium speed until fluffy (3-5 minutes).
- Add the ricotta, eggs (one a time), and vanilla to the mixture; beat until each are incorporated.
- Mix together the dry ingredients with a whisk.
- On medium speed alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk to the batter. Do not over mix at this point, you want the batter to be light and fluffy, mix until each addition of the dry ingredients are just incorporated,
- Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Let the cake cool before adding the ganache.
- Heat the heavy cream over medium heat until it starts to bubble around the edges.
- Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and whisk together until combined.
- Let the ganache cool - for smooth, glossy ganache let it cool for less time and pour it over the cake. For ganache that looks more like regular frosting let it cool longer and frost the cake as you would with normal buttercream.
- Store the cake in the fridge; set it out 30 minutes before serving and sprinkle the outer rim with sea salt.