Let Them Eat Cake! Orange Chocolate Brandy Cake, That Is.

I recently attended a potluck and member meeting for my local Slow Food organization – Slow Food Oahu. Being January (and thus a month where we are still reeling from the painful sucking dry of our bank-account paying for health insurance, estimated taxes, car registration and of course, the ghosts of Christmas presents past), I needed something that didn’t require a trip to the nearest grocery store for $20 worth of ingredients (though I can’t seem to get out of the nearest grocery store for less that $30 no matter what I am buying). Thus, it had to be easy and use only ingredients that I might already have. Surfing through my blog recipe archives (which sorely need updating), I found just such a thing: Chocolate Brandy Bundt Cake.

The first time I made this humble cake was in the beginning of my blogging days – over three years ago. Since then, the recipe has sat in my archives – lost, lonely and unused. That’s a shame for a cake that has coffee, cocoa and a hefty shot (ahem…1/2 a cup) of brandy in its humble ingredient list. Not to mention that the cake is easy to make, can be whipped up simply using a whisk, a couple of bowls and a single pot, and includes ingredients you’re likely to have in your larder – if you own such a thing (which, of course, I don’t) – or at least in your cupboards. I don't even own a "real" bundt pan, but that's okay too.

Reading over my old post, I saw that back then, while I thought the cake was good, it didn’t have much brandy flavor to it. Since the particular potluck in question was a round-up of the various chefs, restaurant owners and resident foodies in town that care about where their food comes from, I thought I should probably kick it up a notch. I decided to add a bit of orange zest and cinnamon to the cake, guessing that one couldn’t go wrong with the combination of brandy and oranges, and that a bit of cinnamon rarely hurts most baked desserts. Luckily, I was right. The combo is delightful, and LB and I practically licked the bowl clean before it was even baked - something I haven't done since I was a kid. It smells amazing coming out of the oven and this time, the brandy didn’t hide behind any of the other flavors, making the cake rich and complex even with only a simple dusting of powdered sugar.

The only other dessert in attendance at the potluck was a concoction made of tangy lilikoi (passionfruit), bananas, yogurt, honey and tiny squares of poundcake (um, YUM). Everyone raved about how tasty it was to mix the lilikoi and yogurt with the chocolate cake and I have to admit, the tartness of the lilikoi was a nice offset to the richness of the cake. So if I was doing a dinner party at home, I might even serve this with a bit of lilikoi ice cream next time since we just so happen to have a tree outside that kicks off a few lilikoi every couple of weeks (which I of course run over and snag before the neighbors get to them) – but plain old vanilla ice cream or even lightly sweetened whipped cream would also do the trick.

There are a few things I did differently this time while making it because my style of cooking and baking has changed over the years. I’ve listed these changes, as well as modified the recipe for cooking here in Hawaii, but the old recipe works just fine too. Honestly, I’m re-posting it now because there’s some sort of satisfaction in being able to re-post an old recipe because you’ve figured out how to make it better – and besides, don’t you just love taking a (little) better picture than you did the first time? It’s like a special kind of food-blogging retribution. I have one more version I want to try of this cake - a spicy version - so you'll be seeing it again sometime in the future.

Orange Chocolate Brandy Bundt Cake

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Ghiradelli) + 1 tbsp. for dusting pan
1/2 cup strong, brewed coffee
1/2 cup brandy
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch peices + extra for pan
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
zest from one (organic, preferably local) orange

Preheat your oven to 325F. Generously butter a bundt (or pseudo-bundt as the case may be) pan and dust with 1 tbsp cocoa; knocking excess out. Heat coffee, whiskey, and remaining cup of cocoa powder in a heavy saucepan over moderate heat. When this is warm, add the butter and whisk until the butter is melted. Remove the pan from heat and add sugar, whisking until it's dissolved. At this point, it should turn dark and silky. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and cool ~5 minutes.

While the chocolate is cooling, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a separate bowl. In a third bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla and orange zest, then whisk this mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture until combined well. Finally, add flour and whisk until just combined (the batter will be thin and bubbly). Pour batter into your prepared bundt pan and bake until a wooden skewer or pick inserted into center comes out clean (about 45 - 50 minutes; though it took 55 min. here in Hawaii).

Cool completely in pan on rack (about 2 hours), then remove from pan onto rack. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.

15 comments from you:

genkitummy said...

Your cake looks great! If I'm ever home during the lilikoi season, I'll contact you.
At my grandma's house we have a lilikoi vine and there's always a lot of lilikoi.

cookiecrumb said...

And I don't even like desserts.
But this had my tummy doing pirouettes.
I must be a sucker for really good chocolate cake, and this sounds really good.
Besides, the oranges on my tree are ripening!

Linika (Linda) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linika (Linda) said...

I can tell you first hand this cake is as good as it sounds and as good as it looks. Wait....it's better.

katiez said...

I have lived my entire adult life without making a bundt cake. This could change....
Looks and sounds, wonderful!
Happy February!

Michelle said...

Genki, Thanks! Oh, please do! I love lilikoi and not enough of them fall of that darn vine across the street often enough! Plus, as a bonus, I'd finally get to meet you!

Cookie, I'm a sucker for desserts - I wish I was more like you! But it's definitely a great way to use up an extra orange!

Linda, thanks! Did you end up making it? I'm glad you liked eating it and had such a great idea for mixing the lilikoi with it and inspiring me!

Katie, ha ha - and this was/is my first and only!

Christie @ fig & cherry said...

Mmmmmm, such a sinful and delicious combination! Great presentation too. Nice work Michelle. Hope you're well! xx

Joie de vivre said...

Oh this looks wonderful. An awesome recipe to dust off!

vlb5757 said...

I love that saying, let them eat cake. The cake looks great. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

glutenfreeforgood said...

Oh my gosh, your "let them eat cake" cake is absolutely on target (other than the flour part). It's gorgeous! I'm going to have to tweak this gluten-free. Next week I'm doing a short presentation on the health benefits of dark chocolate (yeah! decadent health food) and you've put me in the mood for writing my spiel.

Thanks and YES, let them eat cake!


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Sounds like a cake to love. Yes, it is fun to get this kind of food-blogging retribution!

Daniella said...

I thought of this recipe for days after reading it. Finally on Saturday I could resist no longer and made it as you outlined. The flavor is fantastic! I must have done something wrong though, as it is so dense that it feels like I baked a stone into it! Any ideas on what I should have done different?

Michelle said...

Christie, thanks my dear - you are too sweet (and I love being sinful, he he he).

Joie de vivre, It was! The only problem is that now I want to make it all the time!

Vickie, It was the first thing that came to mind ;) I love cheesy titles!

Melissa, I bet you can do it deliciously! I can't wait to go read about one of my favorite ingredients on your blog! (the darker, the better, in my opinion - except not unsweetened...that was a bad day!)

Tanna, ha ha - funny how I never would have thought about that before blogging!

Daniella, I'm glad you liked it! Hmm, I'm not sure why it would be so dense because it wasn't overly so here. I don't know enough about baking to understand if where I live would dictate it (both times I have made it have been humid places, but I would think the difference there would be dry, not dense, cake). First, I'd try stirring the flour instead of whisking it, and do it only until the flour is just barely combined - maybe you just happened to whisk it too long? Or try increasing the amount of baking soda in the recipe? Good luck! Please let me know if you come up with something that works!

Daniella said...

I will it again with your suggestions. It is a great recipe -- thank you!

Michelle said...

Daniella, I just tried this again this weekend and made it into cupcakes, but with a spicy twist (chipotle chili powder, cardamon and cinnamon instead of the orange zest). I added the same amount of baking soda, but instead of whisking I used a spatula and folded in the flour until there weren't any more spots. Let me know if it works for you!