Dairy-free chocolate orange mousse cake

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There are times when a spot of indulgence is needed, and this cake – which pushes itself into dessert territory – is just that! It serves at least 12 people but it can be scaled down.

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There might not be anything innovative about chocolate and orange but it’s a classic combination for a reason and needs no apologies at all.  Here, a light orangy sponge is topped with chocolate crunch (think chocolate cornflakes!), chocolate orange mousse* and a warming kick of Cointreau.

*well, I say “mousse”: it is more a soft ganache!

A dairy-free treat!

I make this cake fairly frequently and more often than not I make it dairy-free – as I have here – using coconut cream (not coconut milk). But you can swap the coconut cream for double cream in the mousse chocolate of choice.

Making elements in advance

Although there are several elements to this, the sponge can be made in advance and frozen and the chocolate crunch can be made a week or two earlier and stored in an airtight container.

This can be made in whatever tin you have: a loose-bottomed cake tin for people to cut at the table or, as I have done here, baked and then topped in a rectangular tin for cutting into squares.

The sponge

The sponge here is a Swiss Roll sponge, but I have made this before by folding in some melted butter or olive oil, giving essentially a genoise sponge. A brushing of the orange syrup or even just alcohol of choice (gently or liberally!) keeps the sponge from going dry.

Recipe: chocolate orange mousse cake -serves about 12

Sponge base:
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • finely grated zest of 1 large orange
Orange syrup:
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • juice of two large oranges
  • 100ml water
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Cointreau
Chocolate crunch:
  • 50g cornflakes or shreddies, crushed
  • 50g dairy-free milk chocolate
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 300g dairy-free dark chocolate, melted
  • 500ml coconut cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons marmalade, with or without peel
  • about half of the orange syrup, above

(1) Preheat the oven to 160C (fan) and line a large loose-bottomed 9-10″ circular or a large rectangular tin with greaseproof.

(2) Make the sponge: whisk the eggs, sugar and orange zest together in a large bowl until pale and thick – the mixture should very slowly drop off the whisk when ready and a trail should be visible for a few moments when the whisk is lifed out of the mixture.  Gently fold in the flour.

(3) Pour the mixture into the tin lined with greaseproof and bake for about 8-9 minutes or until the sponge is a light golden brown and slightly wrinkly Leave to cool in the tin.

(4) Make the orange syrup by boiling the orange zest, juice and sugar together for about 5 minutes or until reduced by about half. Stir in the Cointreau, if using.

(5) Make the chocolate crunch by mixing the ingredients together to give the shreddies/cornflakes a good coating of chocolate. Pour onto a sheet of greaseproof and leave to set. Break apart with a knife knife or pop in a bag and bash with a rolling pin.

(6) Make the mousse:  whip cream with the vanilla until it reaches the soft peak stage. Stir about half of the orange syrup into the marmalade too loosen it up . Fold into the cream along with the chocolate: or use a balloon whisk to gently stir it in. Taste it and add more orange syrup or Cointreau if you want.

(7) Brush some of the syrup over the sponge: not too much, as you don’t want it to become sodden.

(8) Sprinkle the chocolate crunch evenly onto the sponge and pat down gently. Top with the mousse and level it off with a knife or palette knife.

(9) Pour over the remaining orange syrup, which will act as a kind of loose glaze. Chill for a couple of hours to set.

(10) To turn out, dip a knife in boiling water for a few moments and run the knife around the inside of the cake tin. Place the tin over a cup or jar and hilding the tin, lightly press down to release the cake.



Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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