November temps have finally arrived here and – it’s safe to say – we’re pressing full steam ahead on all the fall things! (Bonus points to you if you sang that last little part!) In line with enjoying all this season has to offer, I created a fitting cake recipe: a nutty, orange chocolate cake, layered with cranberry jelly filling, salty pistachios, topped off with white chocolate buttercream.
This cake combines the best of it all – creamy, crunchy, salty, sweet, chocolatey, and, of course, a little bit tart, too. The orange and cranberry flavors add a popping citrusy element that is so well-complimented by the combination of a deep chocolate cake and ultra-light white chocolate buttercream. Then the subtle nuttiness of the pistachios peaks through to round-out a delightfully textured, “can’t-have-just-one” bite of cake. So, today, I wanted to share with you this delectably seasonal, deliciously comforting fall/winter treat so you can enjoy it’s tasty goodness all season long! (You’ll definitely want to!)
Plus, you’ll impress all of your friends and family with an artfully balanced, intricate combination of flavors. However, don’t allow the plethora of components to intimidate you – this recipe is actually quite simple and uninvolved to put together! Depending on the level of decorating you choose, you can be in and out of the kitchen with this tasty cake in only a few hours! Easy, peasy, orange-squeezy!
I’ll also share with you an easy, but eye-catching decorating tutorial. You don’t have to create the exact same design as I do, but I’ll walk you through the customizable process to decorate this nutty orange chocolate cake like a pro!
Are you ready to get started? Well, okay! Let’s get to it!
Nutty Orange Chocolate Cake Video Tutorial
Now that you’ve enjoyed that little visual tutorial, peruse the recipe and method below to create your own delicious nutty orange chocolate cake!
Gather Your Mise en Place
Before getting started baking, make sure you have all of the materials this recipe requires. I’ve included easy links to each of the items, in case you need to order a few things. I am an Amazon affiliate, so my site makes a commission on applicable sales, at no additional cost to you. For my full affiliate disclosure, see the end of this post.
- 2, 6″x3″ light silver aluminum cake pans – these are the exact ones I use to ensure an even bake and ultra-smooth release
- Mixing bowl
- Liquid measuring cup with a pour spout
- Stand or hand-held mixer with the whisk attachment(s)
- Toothpicks (for testing doneness)
- Cooling racks
- Cake leveler
- Piping bags, couplers, and assorted Wilton small circular piping tips. If you’re newer to cake decorating, instead of purchasing each of the items separately, you can find most in a handy starter kit like this one. For the top decoration, I used tip 21, and for the white line art, I used tip 5.
- Off-set spatula, smooth bench/cake scraper, and cake turntable (the most cost-effective purchasing is to buy in a set like this one).
- Textured cake scraper/comb. I purchased mine locally. The openings are smaller than 1/4″ to give me super-fine stripes, but you can find a similar one in this set.
- Food coloring gel – this is the only brand I use.
- Edible gold luster dust (optional, but if you are replicating my design, you’ll need it, along with a few teaspoons of clear, food-grade alcohol, like vodka or white rum.)
- Food-safe paint brushes
Nutty Orange Chocolate Cake, Cranberry Filling & White Chocolate Buttercream Recipe
As is, this recipe creates two, six-inch cake layers. It’s the perfect size for a family to enjoy. Plus, it’s not so overwhelming if you’re just getting started decorating cakes. However, if you’d like, you can create a larger cake by doubling the recipe. In that case, use three, eight-inch pans, and watch the bake time carefully, as they may be done earlier (since they’ll be slightly thinner than the six-inch cakes.)
Orange Chocolate Cake with Pistachios, Cranberry Filling, and White Chocolate Buttercream
Orange Chocolate Cake
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp white flour, plus more for prep
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 tbsp room temperature butter, plus more for prep
- 1½ scant cup white sugar
- 1½ whole eggs (this measurement is tough, but just try your best)
- 1 tbsp fresh orange zest
- 1 cup room temperature 1% or 2% milk
- ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Cranberry & Pistachio Filling
- ½ cup salted pistachios
- ½ can cranberry sauce, jellied
- ½ tbsp orange zest, or more to taste
- ¼ tsp cinnamon, or more to taste
White Chocolate Buttercream
- 1⅓ cup white chocolate chips
- 1½ cups room temperature butter
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- splash room temperature milk, if needed
- pinch salt, if needed
Orange Chocolate Cake
- Thoroughly apply cold butter to the entire inside of your cake pans. Then, add some flour, and shake it around until all the butter is coated with flour. Tap out the excess and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.
- In the bowl of your mixer, use the whisk attachment(s) to cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed for 3-4 minutes, or until it is light and fluffy. Then, slowly pour in the eggs, and then the zest, and mix until all is incorporated.
- Add your milk and orange juice to the measuring cup with a pour spout. Then, in three additions, alternate adding flour and the liquids to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing each time with your spatula, until all of the batter is combined.
- Pour the batter evenly into your cake pans and bake for 42 minutes. Before removing them from the oven, insert a toothpick into the middle to check for doneness.
- Let the cakes cool for only a few minutes in their pans on a wire rack, before turning them out to come to room temperature. Once they've reached room temperature, double wrap the cakes tightly in cling film and freeze until you're ready to assemble the cake.
Cranberry & Pistachio Filling
- With a sharp chef's knife, roughly chop your salted pistachios, if they are whole. Dump them on an ungreased baking sheet and pop them in the oven to roast for 5-10 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn. Let them cool. (Don't roast them at the same time as baking your cakes, as the constant opening and closing of the oven releases heat which can interfere with the rise of your cake, and cause it to sink.)
- Spoon the cranberry jelly into a microwave-safe bowl, and heat for 10-20 seconds, just until you can start to stir it together more easily. However, don't melt it. Stir in the orange zest and cinnamon, taste, and adjust to your liking. Set aside.
White Chocolate Buttercream
- Heat your white chocolate chips in the microwave, in thirty-second intervals, stirring in between each, until there are no more lumps. It's crucial that you fully melt the chocolate. Then, let it cool.
- Beat the butter for 4-5 minutes until it's light and fluffy. Then, incorporate one cup of powdered sugar at a time, scraping down the sides in between each addition.
- Then, after making sure the melted chocolate is NOT hot, drizzle it into your running mixer. Beat the mixture together thoroughly for a few minutes. Then, add your vanilla. Taste test, and, if the buttercream is too sweet for your liking, add a pinch of salt. Also, if your buttercream is too heavy and thick, you can add a tablespoon or two of milk to lighten it up. I didn't need to use any milk, however, it may depend on how you measured your powdered sugar. Tip: You need your buttercream to be room temperature when you add the white chocolate. The buttercream should be room temperature anyway, however, it's important to note that you cannot add the white chocolate to buttercream that is coming out of the fridge, as too cold buttercream will cause the chocolate to clump up. I made this mistake the first time I created this recipe, and it made the decorating process difficult, as I couldn't get a smooth finish on the cake. If this does happen to you, instead of scrapping the whole batch, you can use a spatula to press the buttercream through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the clumps of white chocolate. However, if you follow the directions above, noting the temperatures of your ingredients carefully, you should have nothing to worry about. 🙂
Assembly and Decoration
- Once your cakes are fully cooled, level off the tops.
- Place your first layer down on a bit of frosting to secure it in place. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge to create a "dam," in which you'll spoon out the cranberry filling. Top that with a thin layer of buttercream and a generous helping of the pistachios.
- Invert your second cake layer, and place it atop your cake.
- Using a piping bag or spatula, cover the surface of the cake with your "main" color of buttercream. With sweeping motions, smooth the top of the cake first, pushing the buttercream over the edge. Then, use your straight bench scraper to smooth the edges. Set the cake in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to firm up.
- Next, smooth a second layer of the same color buttercream over top with your spatula. Using the textured edge of your cake comb, scrape around the edges in the same manner as with the straight scraper, removing stripes of the buttercream. Wipe your scraper, and continue until the stripes are smooth. Place the cake back in the refrigerator again to let this layer firm up.
- Using as many colors as you prefer, and a piping bag fitted with a small round tip, carefully pipe buttercream into the ridges we created with the cake comb. Then, use the straight edge of a cake scraper to smooth down the sides. Apply more pressure to remove the excess color and reveal clean, sharp lines.
- To add a chic painted design, add a few drops of clear alcohol to your gold luster dust. Mix it together and use it like paint! Make sure your buttercream is chilled before "painting" on it.
- Then, use a toothpick to outline a cute design or words. This way, if you mess up terribly, you can re-smooth the cake out! Pipe over the outline marks with a small, round tip.
Enjoy Your Nutty Orange Chocolate Cake!
Store this cake at room temperature for two days, and then move it to the fridge – if it lasts that long without being devoured! 🙂 You can also freeze cake slices, tightly double-wrapped in plastic, for up to three months. When you’d like to enjoy a slice, let it thaw in the refrigerator for around 12 hours (depending on the thickness, it may be thawed sooner.)
Feel free to find me on Instagram so we can keep in touch! I share little behind-the-scenes blog snippets and other fun baking and life adventures there! Plus, I love to see what you’re working on, too! Tag me in any bakes so I can give them some love! 🙂
If you’re REALLY in the mood for fall cakes, check out my last recipe: a delicious cinnamon apple layer cake! You’re sure to love this one, too.
Oh, by the way, if you liked this recipe, enter your email below to receive notification of my next blog post. I send a quick, helpful reminder when I publish a new post you might like.
Bye, for now!
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