Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Orange Cake

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This is what my cookbooks look like. Whenever I buy a new one I go through it and mark any recipe that looks like something I’d want to try. I like to use these nifty Post-it bookmarks that are clear where they attach to the page so that they don’t cover anything. As you can see from the photo (and this is only a small sample of the cookbooks I have), I end up with a lot of recipes that I want to try out. And this doesn’t include recipes from magazines and blogs, which I collect using the fantastic Paprika recipe manager app.

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To make a long story short, I really shouldn’t be adding to my collection of recipes to try. But the other day I was reading a newspaper from back home online, when at the bottom of the page I noticed the title of a recipe: Incredibly Light Chocolate Orange Cake (without Flour).  I was intrigued. Chocolate and orange are one of my favorite flavor combinations (here’s looking at you, irresistible orangettes!). A quick look at the ingredient list revealed ground almonds as the substitute for flour and boiled, whole oranges as the substitute for butter. I was beyond intrigued. I had to try it.

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The result was actually very interesting. A moist cake with a distinct chocolate taste but redolent with aromas of orange. I say aromas because the presence of orange in this cake goes beyond what you would get if you used only orange juice. Since it incorporates the entire fruit, you get the sweet and tangy flavor of the orange segments, the mellow bitterness of the pith, and the sharp taste of the orange oil from the rind. All together, it creates a not-too-sweet cake that begs for another bite, if only to decipher the complex combination of tastes hitting your tongue at the same time.

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I know this post seems to come a day late, given that yesterday was Valentine’s day. But Steve and I don’t really do much on Valentine’s day, a day we feel ambivalent about. Back in my single days, I used to hold a dinner party for all my single friends, making beef bourguignon and a chocolate torte, all of us toasting to our singledom, in defiance of this silly holiday that taunted us.

Now that I think about it, given the bitter and sweet flavor combinations of this cake, it would perhaps make a perfect Valentine’s day cake, for both those in celebration of the day and those who don’t like it.

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Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Orange Cake – Translated and slightly adapted from Phileleftheros

Ingredients:

2 small oranges, preferably organic/unsprayed (about 12 oz / 345 g)
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, like Grand Marnier
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup unsweetened cocoa (2 oz / 55 g)
1 ¼ cups sugar (7 ¾ oz / 250 g)
2 cups ground almonds (7 oz / 200 g)
pinch of salt
6 large eggs

Directions:

Preheat the oven at 350º F (180º C). Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a springform 8″ (20 cm) cake pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Wash the oranges and place them in a medium-sized pot. Cover them with cold water and heat over medium-high heat until they come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Drain oranges and let cool. (Oranges can be boiled up to two days in advance and kept in the fridge)

Roughly chop the oranges, remove any pits, and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add liqueur and process until no pieces of orange are left. The mixture should be a relatively smooth pulp with small pieces of rind (it doesn’t have to become completely smooth). Add the baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, almonds, and a pinch of salt. Process until combined.

Add eggs one at a time, processing until each egg is combined. Pour mixture in prepared pan and bake for about 60 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Immediately run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and place the pan on a cooling rack. Let cake cool completely in the pan.

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