Mexican spiced chocolate orange cake

I am breaking all my rules and posting this cake out of order because I saw a food blog challenge that I wanted to enter!

This was the birthday cake I made for myself last weekend. I'm currently obsessed with all things Mexican, and one of my favourite desserts in history is the spiced chocolate orange fudge cake from Las Iguanas - if you haven't tried it, you really should. I can never resist it! So I decided to try and recreate the flavours of my favourite dessert.

I tweaked a recipe for chocolate spiced cupcakes that I saw in the Primrose Bakery: Celebrations book (rather embarrassingly in the 'teenage boy birthday party' section). Seemed like bit of an odd recipe - it involved melting butter and chocolate, then stirring in the sugar, dry ingredients and the eggs at the end. It made for an incredibly runny cake batter and I was feeling dubious... a feeling which intensified when the cakes didn't rise very much and seemed rather heavy when I took them out of the tins.

Not to worry though, if I do say so myself, I loved the flavour. I was surprised by the texture, especially considering it was a cupcake recipe  - the cake was almost torte or truffle-like. Unless I did something wrong in the mixing, I couldn't imagine how these would turn out if they were cupcakes! Either way, despite the texture not being quite what I had been hoping for, it still tasted good and really, the texture did make for a good 'dessert' type cake. I loved that the orange flavour really came through, and tasted great with an undercurrent of warmth from the cinnamon.

By far the most fun part was making the candy skull decorations! It's not really the season for Dia de los Muertos but what the hell - it's my birthday I can celebrate the dead if I want to! All that was required was some white chocolate skulls from the local pic 'n' mix purveyors, some silver balls (is dragees the technical term?) and a few tubes of writing icing in lovely bright colours. After a quick perusal of Google images I set about decorating the skulls and spent a very happy hour or so making pretty patterns on the skulls. It's not often I can 'freestyle' especially when it comes to decorating so I was rather chuffed with my efforts. Even if you're not decorating a cake with them, it's really a great way to spend an afternoon!

Here is the recipe I used:

For the cake:
250g Stork
210g dark chocolate with orange (I used Asda Extra Special Ivory Coast dark chocolate with orange)
330ml milk
185g golden caster sugar
210g self raising flour
40g cocoa powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
grated zest of 2 oranges

For the icing:
350g dark chocolate
1 tsp ground cinnamon
225g unsalted butter, room temperature
250g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp semi skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the decoration:
8 white chocolate skull sweets
16 silver dragees
tubes of writing icing

1. Grease and line 3 18cm sandwich tins, and preheat oven to 180c.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of just simmering water, taking care that the bowl doesn't touch the water.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk until combined. Add the sugar.
4. Sift the flour, cocoa and cinnamon in to the batter, add the orange zest and fold until well mixed.
5. Add the eggs and beat until combined.
6. Divide the batter between the tins and bake for around 30 mins, until a skewer comes out clean.
7. Cool in the tins for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
8. While the cakes cool, make the icing. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Leave to cool slightly and then beat in the cinnamon.
9. In an electric mixer, beat together the butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and beat again until thick and creamy.
10. Decorate the candy skulls - I piped a blob of black icing into the eye sockets to stick in the silver dragees first for the eyes. Then go crazy on the rest of the decoration!
11. Sandwich the cake layers together with a few tablespoons of icing, and spread a generous amount on the top.
12. Decorate with the candy skulls once their icing decorations have set.

As it turns out, I could have saved myself the effort as my wonderful boyfriend Mike presented me with a candy skull cake the next day on my birthday! I should point out that it was from the local bakery and not made by him... much to everyone's relief! Here is the beauty:

So I'm sending my Mexican spiced chocolate orange cake to The Spice Trail, a monthly blog challenge hosted by Bangers and Mash, with this month being Mexican Month.


  1. Wow this looks great, I love the skulls you decorated to go on top!

  2. Your cake looks absolutely amazing and I just adore those Mexican skulls on top. Such a great entry for this month's Spice Trail challenge - thank you so much for taking part.

  3. Your skulls look fantastic! And wayhey for celebrating your birthday (and the dead!) with two cakes!

  4. Love the look & sound of your cake. And well done Mike too :) What flavour was the one he got u?

  5. pretty nice blog, following :)

  6. This is amazing! love those dense fudgy layers of chocolate, and the skull decorations are amazing!


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