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easy chocolate orange fudge cake (healthy!)

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Learn how to make a healthy chocolate orange fudge cake that doesn’t taste healthy! A rich and moist dark chocolate orange sponge cake with thick layers of creamy, decadent healthy chocolate frosting – this cake is to die for. It’s eggless, nut-free and can be made dairy-free, vegan and gluten-free!

A slice of chocolate orange cake on a white plate, there is a fork on the plate and in the background there is the rest of the cake.

I have dreamt about this chocolate orange fudge cake since I first made it. From my first bite of this moist (almost gooey), decadent chocolate cake and fudgy chocolate icing – I knew I had a winner. There’s something very fulfilling about baking something and it turns out even better than you could have imagined.

If you’ve stumbled upon this recipe, I wish I could give you a tiny bite of it. Just enough to convince you that this is the best chocolate cake you will ever make and eat. Dark chocolate and orange are truly a match made in heaven, anyone who says otherwise is wrong. In fact – you can prove them wrong by feeding them this chocolate orange cake from heaven.

The only problem I have with chocolate cake is that I find it really hard to stop at just one slice, but with this recipe, you don’t have to. Because it’s healthier, filled with nutrients and slightly lower in calories – you can have more than one slice if you want. You can even have it for breakfast. Now that’s what you call “winning at life”.

Not only is this a healthy cake, but it’s incredibly easy to make. I’ll prove it to you in a minute (just watch the recipe video and you’ll see). It’s also vegan and paleo-friendly!

Have convinced you to make it yet? I hope so. I really don’t want you to miss out…

A chocolate orange cake on a white plate, there is a slice missing and you can see the moist texture.

“What makes this chocolate orange fudge cake healthy?”

This cake is made using nourishing, whole foods. There are no yucky, high-sugar, insulin spiking, inflammatory ingredients. Just pure goodness. This cake will not only nourish your soul but your body too!

A classic chocolate fudge cake is filled with unhealthy fats, processed flour and sugar. While yes it is delicious – it’s not okay to eat very often. This healthy chocolate fudge cake, on the other hand, is so nourishing that you can eat it multiple times a day if you want to.

To put this into perspective – to really show you how this cake is better for you than a regular old chocolate cake, we’ll have to compare the ingredients.

I’m using Mary Berry’s Very Best Chocolate Fudge Cake as a point of reference.

Ingredients

*For the full ingredients list and measurements, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this page.

Ingredients for a healthy chocolate orange fudge cake.

Flour

In a classic chocolate fudge cake, one usually uses white flour, like self-raising or all-purpose flour. While white flour isn’t necessarily bad for you, it has a poor nutritional value. During the process of making white flour, the bran and germ are removed (which is filled with nutrients) and all you’re left with is the white flour.

Instead, in this healthy chocolate orange cake recipe, we are using whole wheat flour! This is a lot higher in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. It does not affect the taste of the cake, however, all you’ll taste is chocolate and orange!

Fat

In most chocolate cake recipes, the fat used is butter. Butter is made from the fat and protein solids from milk which can cause inflammation in our bodies, and most shop-bought butter does not contain a lot of nutrients. Whilst, yes, proper grass-fed butter does have some good health benefits – there is a better option…

My recipe uses Olive Oil! Olive oil is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and can actually prevent inflammation. Also – we won’t be using as much as you would in most chocolate cake recipes, making this cake a bit lower in calories! It also allows us to make a vegan chocolate orange cake with ease.

Sugar

I won’t go into too much detail here, but Mary’s cake calls for caster sugar. Most classic chocolate fudge cake calls for white, refined sugar. White sugar is highly processed and there are so many reasons to limit this in your diet.

“Refined sugars may increase your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. They’re also linked to a higher likelihood of depression, dementia, liver disease, and certain types of cancer.”

Healthline.com

Instead of white sugar, we use maple syrup. This adds extra moistness to the cake and is a lot better for you than white sugar. It’s filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Frosting

Mary’s frosting sounds absolutely delightful for the soul, but definitely not so much for the body. Chocolate and double cream.

For a healthy chocolate frosting, you should make this Healthy Chocolate Frosting (made with avocado). It’s made from avocadoes, cocoa powder and maple syrup but it tastes like chocolate fudge frosting.

A bowl of healthy chocolate avocado frosting. There is a spatula in the bowl.

Other ingredients

  • Oranges: We will be using the juice and zest. You could use bottled fresh orange juice instead.
  • Yoghurt: This replaces the eggs usually found in chocolate cake, making it extremely moist and fluffy without needing to use any eggs! You can use Greek yoghurt, Greek-style vegan yoghurt or coconut yoghurt. Please try to use thick yoghurt.
  • Cocoa Powder: I recommend using Dutch-process cocoa powder as it’s got a lovely rich chocolaty flavour. Make sure your cocoa powder is unsweetened.
  • Baking Soda or Bicarbonate of Soda: This reacts with the acidic orange juice and cocoa powder to give the cake an airy lift.
  • Salt: Enhances the chocolate flavour.
  • Apricot Jam: To spread between the sponge and chocolate frosting, this adds some extra fruity flavour and makes the cake even more decadent and moist! You can use Orange Marmalade too.

Substitutions

  • Whole Wheat Flour: You can use white whole wheat flour if you have it or oat flour to keep this chocolate orange cake healthy. Or you can use plain or all-purpose flour if you want. To make this cake gluten-free you can use a shop-bought plain gluten-free flour blend. Do not use almond flour or coconut flour.

  • Olive Oil: You can use avocado oil, melted coconut oil or sunflower oil.

  • Maple Syrup: Agave, Honey, Coconut Nectar or any liquid sweetener will work well.

  • Orange Juice: If you’d rather use orange extract you can use 1 teaspoon of this, but you will have to add 3/4 cup of milk to your cake batter.
A half-eaten slice of chocolate cake on a white plate, there is a fork next to it on the plate. The rest of the cake is in the background.

Step-by-step instructions

To show you just how easy it is to make this healthy chocolate orange fudge cake, I’ve prepared a video for you to watch!

Jump to Video
  • To make the cake batter, add all your wet ingredients to a bowl and give it a whisk until it is well combined (image 1).
  • Next, add in your dry ingredients (image 2) and whisk until almost combined, then add in your orange zest and mix until the cake batter is smooth (image 3). The cake batter should be thick, but quite runny (see the video for the consistency).
  • Pour your cake batter into two 7-inch cake tins (image 4) and bake. I recommend using a cake tin with a loose base as it is a lot easier to remove once baked.
Step by step process of making an easy chocolate fudge cake.
  • Once baked, leave the cakes to cool down a bit (image 5) and then remove them from the cake tins.
  • Prepare your healthy chocolate frosting whilst your cake is cooling.
  • Spread some apricot jam on the top of one cake layer (image 6), followed by frosting (image 7). Add the next cake layer, upside down, on top and then spread the remaining frosting on top and around the sides.
  • Add some orange zest to the top to decorate (image 8).
Step by step process of making an easy chocolate fudge cake.

Baker’s Tips

  • Please use a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients, using cup measurements is very unprecise and can lead to a dry cake.

  • Make sure to use room temperature ingredients.

  • The trick to getting a fudgy chocolate cake is to slightly underbake it. You want to remove the cake from the oven just before it’s finished baking as it continues baking in the tin after it’s removed from the oven. The middle of the cake will be slightly flatter than the rest of the cake and almost indented. A fully-baked cake will be rounded at the top, we don’t want that.

  • Use a cake tin with a loose bottom or a spring-form tin, this makes removing it from the tin so much easier. To remove the cake from a loose bottom tin, place it onto a jar (see the video) use a spatula or knife to loosen the cake from the edges, and then lower the sides of the cake tin leaving the cake on the jar. Flip the cake upside down onto your hand and then remove the flat part of the cake tin.

  • Add some parchment paper to the bottom of your cake tin so that your cake doesn’t stick.

  • Before baking your cakes, bang the tins onto your counter to get rid of any air bubbles.

  • You don’t have to add frosting to this cake, as the sponge is already moist enough! You can simply just spread apricot jam between the layers.

  • Make sure the cake is completely cooled before decorating!
A slice of chocolate orange cake lying on its side on a white plate.

If you don’t have a 7-inch cake tin, read this:

6-inch cake tins: The layers will be thicker, therefore you will have to bake the cake for longer. Add 5 minutes to your cooking time and check back.

8-inch cake tins: The layers will be very thin. I recommend using 1.5X this recipe if using an 8-inch tin. You may have to bake it a couple of minutes longer.

FAQ

How long does chocolate orange fudge cake last?

This one last a day because it’s so delicious. Just kidding, in all seriousness, this cake lasts 5-7 days in the refrigerator. Keep it in Tupperware or cover it with foil or plastic wrap. Because this cake contains so many fresh ingredients, I do not recommend keeping it at room temperature for longer than a day.

Can I freeze the chocolate cake?

You can freeze the chocolate sponge, but I wouldn’t freeze the cake after it has been frosted. To freeze the sponge, leave them to cool completely then wrap them in plastic wrap or parchment paper individually and pop them in the freezer. They will last up to three months. When you want to serve the cake, leave it to thaw for a few hours in the fridge and then decorate with jam or frosting.

What if I only have one cake tin?

If you only have one cake tin, I recommend making half the recipe at a time. Don’t prepare the whole mixture and leave half whilst the first layer is baking, the mixed ingredients will start to react with each other and your cake layers will be inconsistent.

How do I make even cake layers?

You will have to portion out the cake batter equally. To do this, weigh your mixing bowl before adding your ingredients, and then when your cake batter is ready weigh your bowl again. Subtract the weight of the bowl from the new weight with the cake batter and then divide that number by two. Place one cake tin onto your kitchen scale and then pour in half of the batter you just calculated and pour the rest into the other tin.

Is this a vegan chocolate orange cake?

Yes, just be sure to use vegan yoghurt. A soy Greek-style yoghurt or coconut yoghurt works best.

A close up image of chocolate orange cake.

Here are some more healthy cake recipes for you to make:

BAKING IN GRAMS

All of the recipes I create are tried and tested a few times until it has been perfected. My goal is to develop recipes that are simple to make and easy to follow so that anyone can make them – even if you’ve never baked before!

One very important thing that will ensure that you get the best results is to measure your ingredients by weight! I recommend purchasing a kitchen scale, they are very affordable and it will honestly change your baking game for good! Not all measuring cups are made equally – for example, a cup of flour to me weighs 120g, but for you, it may be anywhere between 100g and 200g – that’s a BIG difference!

I do provide cup measurements, but for best results, I recommend using the weighted ingredients provided.

If you don’t have a kitchen scale yet, you can use this Ingredient Weight Chart as a guideline to convert the ingredients to help you!

Now – dust your apron off and get baking! X

Hey! If you make this recipe, I would love it if you could leave me some feedback and a rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ in the comment section at the bottom of the page! Also let me know on FacebookInstagram or Pinterest! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and see your photos!

A close up image of chocolate orange cake.

Easy and Healthy Chocolate Orange Fudge Cake

Learn how to make a healthy chocolate orange fudge cake that doesn't taste healthy! A rich and moist dark chocolate orange sponge cake with thick layers of creamy, decadent healthy chocolate frosting – this cake is to die for.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Healthy, Vegan
Servings 10 slices
Calories 209 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Orange (½ cup of juice) or 1 tsp orange extract and ½ cup of milk
  • 190 g Thick Yoghurt (¾ cup) *
  • 155 g Maple Syrup (½ cup) *
  • 50 g Olive Oil (¼ cup) *
  • 120 g Whole Wheat Flour (1 cup) *
  • 30 g Cocoa Powder (¼ cup)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp Salt

To decorate:

  • 1 batch Chocolate Frosting try this Healthy Chocolate Frosting
  • ½ tsp Orange Extract or 2 tbsp Orange Juice
  • 3 tbsp Apricot Jam or Orange Marmalade

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F / 160°C fan and prepare your two cake tins with parchment paper.
  • If using a fresh orange, use a grater to remove the orange zest to be used later.
  • Measure out half a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice and add this to your mixing bowl along with your yoghurt, maple syrup and oil. Use a whisk to mix until combined.
  • Add your flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt to the bowl and whisk until almost combined.
  • Add in your orange zest and continue to whisk until smooth (see video for consistency).
  • Evenly distribute your batter into your cake tins (see notes for tips) and bake for 13-15 minutes. The cake should come out of the oven before it has completely cooked (see notes).
  • Leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack, then carefully remove from the tins.
  • Prepare your chocolate frosting whilst your cakes cool.
  • Once your cake has completely cooled down, spread some apricot jam on one half followed by a layer of frosting. Place the other sponge upside down on top and cover the cake with the rest of the frosting. Top with any left over orange zest.
  • Place in the fridge for half an hour so that the frosting sets, then slice with a sharp, clean knife.

Video

Notes

* see blog contents for ingredient substitutions
  • Please use a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients, using cup measurements is very unprecise and can lead to a dry cake.
  • Make sure to use room temperature ingredients.
  • The trick to getting a fudgy chocolate cake is to slightly underbake it. You want to remove the cake from the oven just before it’s finished baking as it continues baking in the tin after it’s removed from the oven. The middle of the cake will be slightly flatter than the rest of the cake and almost indented. A fully-baked cake will be rounded at the top, we don’t want that.
  • Use a cake tin with a loose bottom or a spring-form tin, this makes removing it from the tin so much easier. To remove the cake from a loose bottom tin, place it onto a jar (see the video) use a spatula or knife to loosen the cake from the edges, and then lower the sides of the cake tin leaving the cake on the jar. Flip the cake upside down onto your hand and then remove the flat part of the cake tin.
  • Add some parchment paper to the bottom of your cake tin so that your cake doesn’t stick.
  • Before baking your cakes, bang the tins onto your counter to get rid of any air bubbles.
  • You don’t have to add frosting to this cake, as the sponge is already moist enough! You can simply just spread apricot jam between the layers.
  • Make sure the cake is completely cooled before decorating!
 
If you don’t have a 7-inch cake tin, read this:
6-inch cake tins: The layers will be thicker, therefore you will have to bake the cake for longer. Add 5 minutes to your cooking time and check back.
8-inch cake tins: The layers will be very thin. I recommend using 1.5X this recipe if using an 8-inch tin. You may have to bake it a couple of minutes longer.
 
These nutritional values are provided as a guide only and may be different depending on your ingredients and measurements.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Easy and Healthy Chocolate Orange Fudge Cake
Serving Size
 
1 slice
Amount per Serving
Calories
209
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
10.3
g
16
%
Saturated Fat
 
1.9
g
12
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1.1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
6.3
g
Carbohydrates
 
29.8
g
10
%
Protein
 
4.3
g
9
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword chocolate fudge cake, chocolate orange cake, chocolate orange olive oil cake, healthy chocolate cake, vegan chocolate orange cake, whole wheat chocolate cake
Did you make this?Leave a rating & leave some feedback in the comments section below! You can also tag me on Instagram @Nourishing.Niki and use the #NourishingNiki
Nikita Messina author at Nourishing Niki

hey, I'm Nikita!


I’m all about quick and easy to follow recipes that nourish your soul and your body. Let me show you how to make all the best treats – but healthier!

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A hand holding a white plate with a slice of chocolate loaf cake. There is some vegan yoghurt on the cake and a bite has been taken from the cake which is on a fork in front of the cake.

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