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Orange cake with dark chocolate and cream cheese frosting

This light, citrusy cake is the perfect way to celebrate the new year, a birthday, a deep abiding love for chocolate, or any occasion. A cream cheese frosting and a layer of chocolate ganache puts it completely over the top.

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1 teaspoon baking soda

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Mollie Zapata lives in Boston, where she is a graduate student by day and bakes for her friends, roommates, and classmates by night. She balances her decadent baking creations with healthy "real" meals, and loves creative flavor combinations, epic layer cakes, and exploring new ingredients.  Mollie blogs at www.eatrunread.com.

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1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Ganache ingredients:
1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

Frosting ingredients:
4 ounces (1/2 block) cream cheese at room temperature

1/4 cup butter at room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

1-3 tablespoons milk or buttermilk as needed

 Directions:
1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. 

2. Beat sugar, butter, orange zest, vanilla and almond extract in large bowl 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in orange juice.

3. Sift or mix (I never sift… mostly because I’m lazy and don’t own a sifter) flour, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Mix dry ingredients into butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. 

4. Divide batter among prepared pans. Bake about 25 minutes, until cakes start to pull away from the edges. 

5. Let them cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then to get the cakes out, invert the pans and tap the bottom. Cool completely on wire racks until ganache-ing and frosting.

Dark Chocolate Ganache:
1. Stovetop: Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. OR Microwave: Bring cream to a simmer in a microwave safe bowl (it took about 1 minute for me).

2. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl.

3. Once the cream reaches a simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand 1-2 minutes. Whisk in small circles until a smooth ganache has formed.

4. Let the ganache cool for about 10 minutes so it’s not too runny when you spread it on the cake. If it gets too firm, you can microwave it briefly.

Frosting:
Beat all frosting ingredients together until smooth and spreadable. Add more milk if necessary. 

Assembly:
1. Put one layer of the cake upside down on a plate so the flattest side is up. Spread ganache evenly over the layer, trying not to go all the way to the edges (otherwise you might have a chocolatey smear in your white frosting). 

2. Spread a thin layer of frosting on the bottom-side of the next cake layer and place it on top of the ganache. 

3. Frost the outside of the cake with the rest of the frosting. I garnished with shaved dark chocolate. 

4. Bring the cake to a party and make new friends!

Related post on Eat. Run. Read: Oreo-Stuffed Chocolate Bundt Cake 

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