Honey Orange Cake with Honey Cream Mascarpone Frosting with Orange Essence

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Honey is a magical, sweet and healthy food made by bees using the nectar of flowers.   Humans have been collecting honey for at least 8,000 years, as depicted in ancient cave drawings in Valencia, Spain.  The ancient Egyptians, Eurasians, Indians, Chinese, Romans and Mayans all cooked with honey.  The Hindus believed it to be one of the five elixirs of immortality.  For Jews, it symbolizes the new year.  It is mentioned multiple times in the Old and the New Testaments.  It plays a role in Buddhism.  The Qur’an has an entire chapter called the Bee, wherein the prophet Mohammed recommended honey for healing purposes.

2-DSC_0747Most importantly, it is delicious.  Really, truly delicious.

I developed this cake recipe because I had a large jar of raw honey that had begun to crystallize and I wanted to use it it.  I recommend that you purchase and use local, raw honey in your home.

This cake is very sweet with a lot of orange flavor and a subtle hint of spice from the cinnamon.  I topped it with a mascarpone cream icing that is infused with orange essence and more honey (of course) that I put together on the fly.  There is a rough approximation of the frosting that I used at the end of the cake recipe.  It may need a tiny bit of tweaking because I did not really measure…

If you are not familiar with mascarpone, it is a delicious and mild Italian soft cheese, somewhat akin to American cream cheese.  It acts like Viagra for whipped cream in that it will help it to maintain stiffness when time or other conditions will cause ordinary whipped cream to deflate.  If you haven’t got mascarpone, you can use cream cheese in a pinch. However, the flavor is not identical.  Cream cheese has more tang and lacks the subtle, nuanced sweetness of mascarpone.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup raw, locally produced honey
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 4 organic eggs
  • The grated zest of two oranges
  • 1 cup of fresh squeezed, organic orange juice
  • 2 and 1/2 cups organic flour
  • 3 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour a 9 x 13 baking pan, or spray it liberally with coconut oil cooking spray.

Sift the flour, baking powder, soda, salt and cinnamon together.

In a large bowl, mix sugar, honey, oil, eggs and orange zest.  Add the flour mixture alternating with the orange juice until just mixed.  Don’t beat it to death.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes.

Honey Cream Mascarpone Frosting with Orange Essence

In a KitchenAid mixer, beat together 2 cups organic heavy whipping cream, 8 oz mascarpone, 1/2 cup honey and 1/2 teaspoon pure orange extract until stiff peaks form.  Frost the cake generously and then refrigerate.

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The Best Chocolate Cake Ever

I am not a great cake baker.  In fact, I am a terrible cake baker, but this cake makes even me look good.  This recipe comes from Gourmet and in fact it is the most reviewed recipe on Epicurious.  It is a perfect, moist, dark chocolate cake that is not too dense.  I made it with vanilla buttercream frosting instead of chocolate ganache.  It is superb!

For cake layers

  • 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

For ganache frosting

  • 1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

Special equipment

  • two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make frosting:
Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency).

Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.