Saturday, September 17, 2011

Little chocolate, orange & hazelnut cakes

There's a lot to like about these little cakes. Most importantly they're chocolately and delicious. They're also very simple to make as all the ingredients are whizzed together in the food processor. And they're lovely to look at with their pretty sprinkle of candied orange zest.

This recipe also just happens to be gluten-free so it's perfect if entertaining gluten-free guests as everyone can enjoy these little cakes together. I love recipes that fit particular dietary requirements without having to be adapted.

The candied orange peel isn't essential but is simple to make and looks so pretty. It also adds a nice little crunch. The method for the candied zest makes more than you'll need for these cakes but keeps well in the pantry for a few months, ready for when the urge to make these delightful little cakes strikes again.

For eight little cakes...
1 thin-skinned navel orange
2 eggs
125g caster sugar
100g ground hazelnuts
25g cocoa
1/2 generous tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

Place the orange in a pot of water and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for one until (until tender). Drain and leave to cool. (I try and do this the night before.)

Once the orange is cool, slice into quarters, remove any large pips and the "navel" and place in the food processor bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and run until just combined. You want the mixture to be flecked with pureed orange.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and grease 8 cups of a muffin tray. Place a small circle of baking paper in the base of each muffin cup (it's worth taking the time to do this to avoid the inevitable heartache when it's time to remove the little cakes from the tin).

Fill each muffin cup, just to the top and place the tray in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes. A skewer should come out almost clean when inserted into the centre of a little cake.

Leave to cool completely in the tins then carefully remove and place, inverted, on a cooling rack.

If you'd like to make you cakes extra-special make candied orange zest while the cakes are baking. A citrus zester makes life easy but if you don't have a zester, peel the skin finely leaving the white pith on the orange and slice into very thin strips.

For candied orange zest...

Zest of one orange
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 caster sugar (extra)

Place the orange zest in a small sauce pan, cover with boiling water, bring back to the boil then drain. Place the zest back in the pan and repeat twice.

Return the zest to the pan and add the water and the first measure of sugar. Bring up to a gently simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the zest and discard the syrup. Place the second measure of syrup into a shallow bowl and tip in the zest. Shake to coat and then discard the excess sugar. Any unused candied zest will keep for a couple of months in the pantry in an airtight container.

Now make the ganache.

Chocolate ganache...
100g good quality dark chocolate, finely chopped (I love Whittakers Ghana dark 72%)
100ml cream

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until almost boiling. Remove from heat and add the finely chopped chocolate. Leave to sit for two to three minutes. Stir gently until the cream and chocolate are just combined. Don't overmix or your ganache may split, leaving you with an oily mess that can't be saved. Leave to cool for 20-30 minutes to thicken.

Once the ganache is cool, spoon over a generous amount of ganache - you want it to run down the side a little. Decorate with a few sprinkle of candied orange zest.

Serve with a spoonful of softly whipped cream.


  1. Yum! love how simply the recipe is and that real orange is used!

  2. They look beautiful! Your ganache is perfect and the candied zest just makes them!

  3. Yum! Dad overheard us talking about these and was very disappointed when he found out that were actually in Wellington and not available for him to eat!

  4. Sorry Dad! I have enough to share too. Shame he isn't up in Wellington for work this week.

  5. I love that a whole orange goes in! (Well, not the pips, but no-one wants those). Oranges and hazelnuts together sounds pretty luscious.

  6. Ah, the candied zest... I almost want to just make that and eat it by the handful. Chocolate and hazelnut sounds delicious too, though, and I can't go past ganache... :)

  7. These look gorgeous Libby. The icing looks so glossy - I am now craving chocolate ganache. x


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