Chocolate Orange Chess Cake!

Everyone loves a birthday party! It’s the perfect occasion for a big ol’ celebration cake. So for the Bolton Clandestine Cake Club’s Second birthday event I wanted to make something a little special. I love a cake with a secret hidden pattern, and having made a chocolate & vanilla chess cake once before, it seemed the perfect opportunity to do one again. This time, I wanted to try something different with the flavour combination, chocolate orange is a match made in heaven, so I figured, why not? I free styled slightly with the recipe, using the base sponge recipe and chocolate ganache to coat the cake from the GBBO Showstoppers Recipe book for their Chess cake, however I adapted the recipe slightly by adding orange zest & extract to the plain cake mix, and using an orange butter cream to sandwich the sponges. I was very pleased with the results, there was a lovely balance of the chocolate and orange flavour which is what I was hoping for.

The recipe may seem really involved and long winded, but it’s actually much simpler than it seems (I promise!). Definitely worth having a full read through and get yourself familiar with the steps before you begin though.

Equipment required:

  • 3 x 20cm sandwich tins, greased and base lined with baking paper
  • 2 piping bags each fitted with a 1 or 1.5cm plain nozzle (they must be the same size!)


For the sponges:

  • 350g unsalted butter, softened
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature, beaten
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • good pinch of salt
  • 50g cocoa powder (for the chocolate mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon orange extract (for the orange mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 4 tablespoons of milk

For the Orange butter cream

  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 80g unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 25ml whole milk

For the dark chocolate ganache/decoration

  • 300g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 1 Terry’s Chocolate Orange (Or any other chocolates you want to use to decorate the top of the cake)


1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas mark 4. Put the butter into a large mixing bowl or free-standing mixer. Beat until very creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar, then the vanilla extract. Keep beating and scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture is much lighter in colour and very fluffy in texture.

2. Gradually add the eggs, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1 tablespoon of the weighed flour with each of the last 2 portions of egg to prevent the mixture from curdling.

3. Sift the remaining flour and the salt into the bowl and gently fold in using a large metal spoon until you can no longer see any streaks or specks of flour.

4. At this point you need to split the mixture. I do this by weighing the full quantity and transferring half to another bowl. Sift the cocoa into one of the bowls and add 2 tablespoons of the milk. Fold in until completely blended. Spoon the mixture into one of the piping bags. Add the orange extract and orange zest and 2 tablespoons of milk into the mixture in the second bowl, mix thoroughly, then spoon into the other piping bag.

5. Pipe a ring of chocolate mixture around the inside edge of one tin. Then pipe a ring of the light mixture inside the chocolate ring. Repeat with alternate chocolate & light rings until the tin is filled. Repeat with a second tin. Then for the third tin, start with an outer ring of the light mixture, so this tin is the reverse of the other 2 tins.

6. Bake for 22-25 minutes until well risen and springy when lightly pressed in the centre. Run a knife around the inside of each tin to loosen the sponge, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

7. Whilst the sponges are in the oven/cooling you should make the butter cream filling and the chocolate ganache. To make the orange butter cream beat together the icing sugar, butter and orange zest with an electric mixer (free-standing or handheld), on a medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed. Slowly add the milk a little at a time (you may not need all the milk to get the consistency you’re after so don’t worry if you don’t add it all). Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes.

8. To make the ganache, put the finely chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a pan until hot but not boiling, then pour in a slow, steady stream over the chopped chocolate. Leave it to stand for a few minutes without touching it, then stir gently until the chocolate is all melted and smooth and glossy. Leave to cool and thicken slightly, then stir gently, but don’t over beat or the mixture could separate. It’s best to leave the mixture to cool somewhere for a while before trying to cover the cake, otherwise the consistency will be too runny to hold over the cake. I usually leave for at least 20 minutes.

9. Once the sponges are fully cooled it’s time to assemble the layers. Place one of the sponges with the chocolate outer ring upside down on a cake board or your serving platter. Spread the top with half of the orange butter cream then set the the sponge with the white outer ring on top. Spread the rest of the butter cream on top and then top with the third remaining sponge with the browned top uppermost. Cover the top and the sides of the cake with the chocolate ganache. I use a palette knife to smooth out the ganache on the sides of the cake. I find it best to do one layer first to get the coverage over the cake and then when that has set slightly to go over with a second layer over the top. The ganache should have a lovely shiny finish. Before the ganache has had chance to set on the top, use the Terry’s Chocolate Orange segments (or whatever you have chosen to decorate the cake with) to decorate the top. Leave the cake in a cool spot (not the fridge though) to set. I tend to make the cake the evening before I want it so the ganache has overnight to set.

Et voila! It’s a very impressive looking cake on the outside with the beautiful glossy ganache finish. It becomes even more impressive when you slice into it. It can be a little nerve wracking as to whether the chess board pattern will have worked, and you won’t know until you cut into it, however I can guarantee you that it will draw some ‘oooh’s’ and ‘aaaaah’s’ when the cake is sliced! Hidden patterns within a cake always get a great reaction, and the method for creating such an impact is actually pretty simple, so why not give it a go?!

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Oreo Cupcakes!

As you may have seen from my earlier Oreo Cookie Brownie post, I heart Oreos. A while ago it was one of my work colleague’s birthdays, who is also an Oreo lover so I was eager to bake something appropriate for her. The brownie has become a staple ‘go-to’ bake for me, so I fancied trying something different, ideally cupcake based. I had a browse online and came across a lovely post for Oreo Cupcakes on Sweetharts Cakes & Bakes. It seemed a pretty simple recipe and the photos of the finished articles looked really lovely so I gave them a go.

You can see the recipe on Sweethearts page linked above, but I’ve detailed
below as well:


For the Cupcakes:

  • 200g Plain Flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 240g caster sugar
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 16 whole Oreo’s

For the Frosting:

  • 175g softened unsalted butter
  • 350g sifted icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2tbs milk
  • 3 or 4 crushed Oreo’s – Crushed in a food processor or in a sandwich bag with a rolling pin
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C or gas mark 4. Line a cupcake baking tray with cupcake cases. Place a whole Oreo cookie into each case.
2. Sift the flour,cocoa powder,baking powder and salt into a bowl give it all a mix
3. In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar together either with a handheld electric whisk or a free standing electric mixer until it is light and fluffy then add the vanilla extract and the eggs 1 at a time whisking them in slowly.
4. Alternate between adding the milk and flour mixing between additions to bring the batter together,adding any remaining flour at the end.
5. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases (I use an ice-cream scoop),covering the Oreo’s and filling the cases about 3/4 full. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes. The cakes are ready when a cocktail stick or skewer comes out of the centre clean.
6. Set on a cooling rack to cool completely.
7. To make the frosting, beat the butter and icing sugar together for a few minutes until it becomes smooth & fluffy. Add the milk a little at a time if the consistency is a bit thick.
8. Mix in a spoonful at a time of the crushed Oreo’s just until you get a speckled frosting. I like to hold a little back to be able to sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the finished cupcakes.
9. You can then top the sponges with the buttercream, either with a palette knife or using a piping bag and star nozzle. I finish by sprinkling Oreo crumbs over the top of the buttercream.
When I did them for my friend’s birthday I didn’t use a piping bag to frost as I was doing them on a ‘school night’ so used a palette knife to top them, which was pretty quick and easy. I have made them a second time and piped the frosting. What I would say, is that if you are going to pipe, ensure that you have quite a large open star nozzle. Because of the oreo crumbs in the buttercream they can get stuck in the nozzle which results in a wobbly uneven swirls.

Both times I made these cupcakes they went down an absolute storm! The sponge is really moist but surprisingly not too chocolatey or sickly. So if you are a fan of Oreos, I would absolutely recommend them! Thanks very much to Sweetharts, Cakes & Bakes for the fab recipe! The whole Oreo in the bottom of the cake is a real cheeky treat!

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