This vegan Chocolate Blood Orange Cake is our go-to dessert when blood oranges are in season. This upside-down cake is soy-free, nut-free, and easy to make. Chocolate and citrus is the perfect flavor combination, especially over the winter!
Here in Arizona, I can find a bag of certified organic blood oranges for two dollars. They are deliciously sweet with a hint of raspberry, depending on the variety. I love their taste and unique fragrance!
Ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed chocolate and orange around the winter holidays. Does anyone else remember those round orange shaped chocolate balls? I have fond memories of getting those orange chocolate spheres around the holidays; I still love chocolate and orange together, a flavor combination that seems ideal for winter!
Here's what you're going to need to make this vegan chocolate orange cake. The specific amounts are in the recipe card below.
- Plant-based butter (I use Earth Balance buttery sticks) and organic cane sugar for greasing the cake pan
- Grapeseed oil with zest of one organic blood orange; or you may use fruity extra-virgin olive oil
- Organic unbleached all-purpose flour (you can try a 1:1 gluten-free flour, but I haven't tried it), cane sugar, and Dutch-process cocoa powder - be sure to check Variations below to make this cake fudgier!
- Baking soda
- Sea salt - Himalayan or Celtic, as long as it's finely ground
- Coffee - this enhances the flavor of the chocolate
- Apple cider vinegar - when combined with baking soda, this helps the cake rise.
- Vanilla extract
- Organic blood oranges - I used five for this recipe, one of which I zested to put in the oil, as mentioned above
- Vegan semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (optional and not necessary)
Preparing the ingredients
Prepare the zest and oil mixture. Measure the grapeseed oil. Zest one orange and place the orange zest in the oil before you prepare the other ingredients. You want to do this part first because it takes the longest.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare the cake pan. Grease a 9-inch wide x 2-inch high cake pan (or a Cerise tatin pan like the one I have pictured; I've had it since 2003!) generously with plant-based butter. You do not want to skimp on the butter, or the cake might stick to the pan. Sprinkle the cane sugar on the bottom of the cake pan. This is for caramelization of the oranges.
Prepare the blood oranges. Cut both ends off each of the oranges, and remove the skins with a sharp paring knife. Take care not to remove the fruit pulp; you only want to remove the white pith, which is bitter, and the hard skins. Here is a video on how to cut an orange.
Then thinly slice the blood oranges; refer to the photo below for the end result. As you cut the oranges, put them in a small bowl; the juice will collect at the bottom. Save the juice to drink and get your Vitamin C; it's too precious to discard!
Layer the thinly sliced oranges on the pan's bottom; start in the middle and work your way outwards. Try not to overlap the orange slices. If you have any gaps, you can fill them in with the smaller pieces of blood orange.
🥣 How to make this Chocolate Blood Orange Cake
Prepare the dry ingredients. Sift the flour, cane sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together and make a well in the middle.
Prepare the wet ingredients. Whisk together the coffee, grapeseed oil with orange zest, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract.
Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the sifted dry ingredients. Mix vigorously with a whisk until combined, add the mini chocolate chips if desired; they are optional.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
Bake immediately in the preheated oven for at least 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. At this point the cake edges should be pulling away from the pan. If they're not, continue baking and check every five minutes. If the blood oranges are super fresh and juicy, you may need to bake your longer longer, up to 55 minutes or more.
Let the cake cool for 30 to 45 minutes. Take a plastic or butter knife and cut at the edges of the cake to loosen it before carefully inverting it onto a cooling rack. Serve when it has thoroughly cooled.
If you don't have blood oranges, feel free to try other types of citrus, such as the various oranges that are in season where you live.
To make this cake fudgier and even more chocolatey, double the amount of cocoa powder and add the chocolate chips!
You can use a fruity extra-virgin olive oil instead of grapeseed oil.
If you don't have fresh coffee available, you can instead use:
- 1 tablespoon of espresso powder in a cup of hot water or
- 1 teaspoon of coffee extract in one cup of water.
💭 Top tips
Try to obtain a variety of blood oranges so you can get different colors for the top of your cake! Otherwise, you can use whichever oranges are available, such as navel oranges or Cara Cara oranges.
I like to set it on the counter before I eat it again to warm up to room temperature. This chocolate orange upside-down cake makes a delicious breakfast with coffee!
If your oranges are especially juicy the baking time may take a bit longer than the recommended time. Check for doneness every 5 minutes.
If you have any surplus orange slices, eat them, save them for a snack, or put them in a parfait or pair them with granola and plant-based yogurt.
Let the cake cool completely before storing it in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days in an airtight container.
This beautiful and delicious cake is perfect for holidays, the chocolate lover in your life, or celebrating the citrus of the season!
If you make this Chocolate Blood Orange Cake, let me know what you think by ★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. You can follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me! Just tag me @resplendentkitchen and hashtag #resplendentkitchenrecipes.
Chocolate Blood Orange Cake
- ⅓ cup grapeseed oil or fruity extra-virgin olive oil
- Zest of one blood orange
- 2 tablespoons plant-based butter for greasing the cake pan
- 1 cup organic cane sugar plus 3 tablespoons divided,
- 5 organic blood oranges peeled and cut into slices
- 1 ½ cups organic unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup organic Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup coffee or 1 cup water with 1 teaspoon coffee extract, or 1 cup water with 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup semi sweet mini chocolate chips optional
- Mix the grapeseed oil with zest of one blood orange and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom and sides of 9-inch cake pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of organic cane sugar on bottom of pan, tilting the pan to get an even coating of sugar. Layer the sliced blood oranges on the bottom of the pan.
- Sift the flour, cane sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle.
- Mix the coffee, grapeseed oil with orange zest, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the well of dry ingredients. Mix vigorously by hand with a whisk until smooth. Stir in the mini chocolate chips if desired. Pour batter into the greased cake pan.
- Bake for approximately 35 minutes if using a tatin pan and up to 55 minutes if using a cake pan or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with crumbs clinging to it.
- Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes before gently flipping it onto a cooling rack. Loosen the edges first with a butter knife or a plastic knife.
- Calorie calculation is done without chocolate chips.
- Let the cake cool completely before storing it in the fridge. Store in fridge for up to 5 days in a covered container.
- If your oranges are especially juicy the baking time may take a bit longer than the recommended time. Check for doneness every 5 minutes.
- To make this cake fudgier and even more chocolatey, double the amount of cocoa powder and add the chocolate chips!
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