Chocolate orange cake with orange blossom cream, A Secret Dinner dessert

chocolate orange cake

What to serve for dessert for 30 people? Even the most kitchen and food challenged amongst us could guess that a souffle was out. Simple classics like tiramisu were ruled out too as they ranked too high on the boring scale. It was a no as well to creme brulee, traditional pannacotta and other sweet treats that required ramekins, moulds or 30 containers that were the same size and shape.

Other constraints required that the components be pre-prepared (I mean, who wants to make the dessert for 30 people from scratch in an unfamiliar kitchen after a few glasses of wine, a stressful day, and plating and sending out 4 savoury courses?). On top of all of that there was a budget and theme to stick to. Ideas flitted through my head, flashes of custard, flicks of ice cream, fruit, caramel or chocolate? It all whirled around for a few weeks, and an exploratory trip to Zumbo was sugary delicious but no help at all (though it did make me think alot about jelly, for some reason).

chocolate orange

I banished the idea of jelly (too many childhood memories), and soon enough though I got stuck on oranges and pairing them with orange blossom water. It fit in with the Mediterranean theme, sure enough, but the bitter tart orange and almond cake that I dreamed about was demolished by my tractor of an oven. The density and thickness that I desired was all burnt bottoms and raw gooey centres in that poorly heated box. Those shattered dreams were quickly swept away when this thick tile of rich chocolate cake was whipped into existence. A few test runs later, and the cake was finalised, right about the same time as I decided I never wanted to ever see another chocolate and orange cake ever again. ever.

Now the cooked cream topping that heavy dark chocolate tile was another story altogether. I knew I wanted a wibbly wobbly pannacotta, heady with orange blossom with the slightly bitter undertone of orange zest oil, but light and airy. So I made a pannacotta and folded whipped cream through at the end, with the intent of topping each cake with a rough quenelle. On the night though, Matt from element bistro pulled out an ice-cream scoop. A perfect scoop.

Top the whole lot off with a sprinkle of crunchy pine nut praline, pine nuts courtesy of Fouad, (from his family estate) and a splatter here and there of ruby red candied orange blossom. This dessert ticked all the boxes, and hit all the right notes, I think. 

chocolate orange tile

Chocolate orange tile with orange blossom cream.
Serves 5

Chocolate and orange cake 
adapted from David Lebovitz’s Idiot Cake.

100g butter
150g dark chocolate (I used lindt 70 – 80% and callebaut dark, and I actually liked the lindt 80% best)
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon plain flour
finely grated orange zest
1 – 2 Tablespoons orange juice.

Melt butter and chocolate together. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together, then add slightly cooled melted chocolate, orange zest and juice. Mix until smooth, then fold flour through. Pour batter into a greased and lined pan. You could use a springform one, but I just used a well lined rectangular tin. Place in a water bath (you may need to wrap the bottom of your springform pan in foil to prevent leaks), ensuring that the water comes about halfway up the sides of the pan.
Bake at 180C, for about an hour until the cake is set. Cool completely.

Orange blossom cream
150 ml cream + 80ml cream extra
70ml milk
2 Tablespoons caster sugar
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
1 Tablespoon orange zest
2 gelatine leaves

Heat 150ml cream, the milk, sugar and zest in a small pan over medium heat. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for up to 10 mins until flavours combine and the dairy is cooked, set aside. Soften gelatine in cold water and mix through the hot dairy. Set aside to cool, if necessary refrigerate, but be careful because you don’t want this mixture to set just yet.
Meanwhile, whip the extra 80ml of cream.
When the cooked dairy mixture has cooled, strain, and then fold the whipped cream and orange blossom water into the strained mixture. Strain again, and pour into a container and refrigerate until just set. This should be wobbly and light.

Serve with pine nut praline and candied orange blossoms.

This work, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.


  1. Posted August 31, 2009 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    wow this cake looks so beautiful!
    And applause for behind the scene planning, must be crazy hectic to serve 30!
    .-= Yas @´s last blog ..Add some Asia to it – trying to eat sensibly. =-.

  2. Posted August 31, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I wish I had gone just for your dessert! Looks beautiful! It was great hanging out with you yesterday as well :)
    .-= Betty´s last blog ..Fujiya Japanese Restaurant, Haymarket =-.

  3. Posted August 31, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    omg this looks amazing. always great to have desserts you can prepare in advance, and making an orange blossom cream using pannacotta is such a lovely idea too.
    .-= Helen (grabyourfork)´s last blog ..Hippopotamus Restaurant at the Museum Hotel, Wellington, New Zealand =-.

  4. Posted August 31, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Perfect dessert and I am trying this pretty soon. I have a function for 30 coming up and was in search for a “new” dessert!!!
    .-= nina´s last blog ..Mango Lassi – Delicious and healthy way to start the week! =-.

  5. Posted August 31, 2009 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    this cake looks seriously good – love the fudgy texture.
    will keep this in mind next time I need to feed a crowd

  6. Posted September 1, 2009 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    That cake looks absolutely sinful!

  7. Posted September 1, 2009 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I love the play on the textures, the colors, the flavors, the plating…all just delicious!

  8. Posted September 1, 2009 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I’ve always wanted to have a recipe that you could make for a large group that looked beautiful and yet easy enough to prepare. This looks like a keeper! Thanks
    .-= Trissa´s last blog ..The Easiest, Yummiest Korean Beef Stew – Ever! =-.

  9. Posted September 2, 2009 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    That is a beautiful dessert! Really luscious!



  10. Posted September 4, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I wouldn’t even know where to start thinking about a dessert for 30 people. This is so beautiful. Rich but delicate enough with a range of flavours. Lovely!
    .-= Julia @ Mélanger´s last blog ..{ Caramel or Chocolate } =-.

  11. Posted September 13, 2009 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Yas @ Thanks! Yes, but more planning means its less crazy hectic! It is certainly an interesting experience.

    Berry: Thank you, and you too! Had a great time in Cabramatta.

    Helen (grabyourfork): Thank you, yeah desserts are one thing that is great pre-prepared. Means you can have a glass of wine with your main!

    nina: Oh, good luck! Hope it works out, and I’d love to know how your function turns out :)

    jules: The cake is great, simple and really delicious

    Amrita: It is, but in the best way possible :)

    Tartelette: Thank you!

    Trissa: Thanks!

    Rosa: Thank you, it is delcious

    Julia @ Mélanger : Yeah, 30 is challenging, yet fun :)

  12. Ameya
    Posted March 20, 2010 at 12:11 am | Permalink

    What size pan would you recommend to use for this recipe?

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] Lili of Pickelet and Pie proposes an Chocolate orange cake with orange blossom cream. She was looking to make a dessert for 30 persons. She adapted David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Idiot […]

  2. […] Chocolate orange cake with orange blossom cream from Pikelet & Pie. […]

  3. […] What to serve for dessert for 30 people? Even the most kitchen and food challenged amongst us could guess that a souffle was out. Simple classics like tiramisu were ruled out too as they ranked too high on the boring scale. It was a no as well to creme brulee, traditional pannacotta and other sweet treats that required ramekins, moulds or 30 containers that were the same size and shape … [read more] […]

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