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Chocolate-Orange Birthday Cake

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Jenny is in perpetual search for easy, weeknight recipes to attempt to feed her family. When they balk, she just eats more.

Today: Jenny finds a weeknight chocolate cake. With sprinkles, naturally.

My Chocolate-Orange Birthday Cake

My friend’s son A is what is commonly referred to within the culinary linguistic canon as a cookie monster. I know most kids love sweets, but really this boy, who is as thin as a bookmark and otherwise quite personally restrained, can put away more desserts than any man, woman or child I have ever known. I once saw him nibble some crumbs off a table-mate’s banana muffin wrapper at school. He’s just that kid.

But when it comes to baked goods, let me just say right away that A has plenty of good taste. He prefers a garlic salt bagel to a plain, demonstrating incipient savory smarts, and he really can tell a great cake from a good one.

When his birthday rolled around earlier this month, I offered to bake him a cake, and among all the offerings I put out there, he had the good sense – and interesting brain -- to choose My Chocolate-Orange Birthday Cake. And that was before he even learned it had sprinkles!

The first thing this recipe has going for it is, of course, its author: drbabs always churns out good yummies, so I knew this would be a sure thing. I also love how she made it for herself rather than endure the cloying misery of a store-bought cake -- friends don’t prevent friends from having the perfect cake, can I get an amen?

But you all know I would not be writing this up were the cake not weeknight-friendly. I made it on a Sunday night after completing approximately 300 loads of laundry and sweeping the basement stairs so that someone could immediately trample on them again, so you know it has to be easy. Its two greatest assets are that it only takes one pan and it features things you probably have at home, unless you’ve been too depressed about the looks of oranges in the store these days to buy them.

The only thing I did not add was the espresso powder – it was a school night after all. Because this recipe features both baking powder and baking soda, you can get away with using natural cocoa if that’s all you have in your pantry. Please make sure the cake is totally cooled before frosting, which is done most easily by pouring the ganache in the center of the cake and then spreading it from there. Amanda told me not to use sprinkles. I used the exact ones features in drbabs’s photo. Amanda can sue me.

My Chocolate-Orange Birthday Cake

My Chocolate-Orange Birthday Cake by drbabs

Makes 1 9-inch cake

For the cake:

1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon powdered espresso
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
3/4 cups whole milk

For the ganache:

1/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces best quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
sprinkles for decorating

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Craving more chocolate cake? Try:

Chocolate Dump-It Cake

Chocolate-Beet Cake

Spicy Chocolate Mousse Crepe Cake

Photos by James Ransom


Tags: jenny's in the kitchen, jenny, cake, chocolate cake, dessert, everyday cooking

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Comments (23)


over 2 years ago Cathy Cowe

I just made this for my Dad's almost 60th (59th) birthday, and am taking it over tomorrow for dinner. He 'didn't want anything for his birthday', but every year begs for orange chocolates for Christmas/Easter/Holidays, so I figured this was the perfect gift. I am now unfortunately tempted to eat it myself, it smells so good. I hope I can resist until tomorrow night!!! :) ps - I used 1/4c butter, and 1/2c orange juice for a more intense flavor, and used the juice from an orange and a tangelo. Also, will ganache tomorrow so that everything is mostly fresh!


over 2 years ago phyllis

I'm having two little girls, five y/o and almost three, and their parents for dinner this week-end. Both girls are almost at their birth days. I'm going to bake this for them for dessert (but really for me), because who can resist chocolate, orange and sprinkles! Thanks Jenny and drbabs!


over 2 years ago riverdwell

Is the butter the kind with salt or without?


over 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I use I salted butter.


over 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oops...darn typo. I use UNsalted butter.


over 2 years ago dymnyno

Oh do I love the combo of orange and chocolate! Just in case anyone is in my neighborhood on feb 26 which is my birthday and wants to make this for me I know it will pair very very nicely with red wine if you get my drift...


over 2 years ago MrsWheelbarrow

Cathy is a trusted source on Pickling/Preserving.

Um. Howdy neighbor. Did I tell you it's my birthday week?


over 2 years ago mcs3000

I'm a sucker for sprinkles.


over 2 years ago hbusig

I am having my 12 year old daughter make this for my birthday in April. Chocolate and orange is my favorite combination. I may need to give the recipe a testrun before that. Just to make sure it is good. :-)


over 2 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Go team sprinkles!


over 2 years ago Jestei

i liked them


over 2 years ago Kathleen Bliven



over 2 years ago Jestei



over 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Chocolate and orange is also one of my favorite flavor combo's. What a great cake, so glad to see it drbabs and thanks to Jenny for featuring it. BTW, love the sprinkles.


over 2 years ago Jestei

i think it is a great combo as well


over 2 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

Chocolate orange is my favourite combo ever.....and that of my 5 year old son. I love Terry's chocolate orange, and I frequently make an orange version of Amanda's Chocolate dump it all cake. This rocks.

And Amanda can hardly sue you....for there's no proof of the sprinkles in the photo! No evidence, no crime!!


over 2 years ago Jestei

if you look at the original recipe post you can see the sprinkled version which is exactly what my cake looked like


over 2 years ago BlueKaleRoad

I'm glad you used the sprinkles - so festive and fun! This sounds like a fabulous cake.


over 2 years ago Jestei

I think you would enjoy it


over 2 years ago Shalini

Thanks Dr. Babs and Jenny! Lovely.


over 2 years ago Jestei

thank you!


over 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Hey, Jenny. Thank you for making my day. XO


over 2 years ago Jestei

xx oo