Learn how to make a healthy chocolate orange cake that doesn’t taste healthy! A rich and moist dark chocolate orange sponge cake with a thick layer 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!

Healthy chocolate orange cake.

The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. The center of the cake should be slightly flatter and indented, indicating it’s not overbaked.

I have dreamt about this orange chocolate cake since I first made it. From my first bite of this moist (almost gooey), decadent chocolate cake and fudgy chocolate orange frosting – 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 combined with that orange flavor is truly a match made in heaven; anyone who says otherwise is wrong. In fact, you can prove them wrong by feeding them this orange chocolate cake from heaven.

This cake is not only easy to make and (incredibly) delicious, it’s also made with simple, nourishing ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen! I promise you, this cake does not taste healthy – it’s so moist and decadent that you can trick anyone into thinking it’s a regular cake while giving them the nourishment their bodies deserve!

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

Chocolate orange cake on a cake stand.

Why you’ll love this chocolate orange cake:

  • It’s made with simple, healthy ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.
  • It’s easy to make!
  • It’s so soft, moist, and almost gooey!
  • The chocolate orange flavor is always a winner.
  • It’s egg-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, and can also be made dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free.
  • It’s seriously delicious.
  • It’s good for your soul and your body.

What makes this chocolate orange cake healthy?

This chocolate orange cake is designed to be both delicious and nourishing. Here’s why this cake stands out as a healthier alternative to traditional cakes:

Wholemeal Flour:
Using wholemeal flour instead of refined white flour boosts the nutritional value of the cake. Wholemeal flour contains more fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which are essential for digestive health and maintaining steady energy levels.

Natural Sweeteners:
This cake is sweetened with natural liquid sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, agave, or date syrup instead of refined sugar. These natural sweeteners have a lower glycemic index, which helps prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. They also contain trace minerals and antioxidants that are beneficial for overall health.

Healthy Fats:
The recipe uses heart-healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil, which contain beneficial monounsaturated fats. These fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels and are essential for brain health.

Yogurt:
Yogurt is a key ingredient in both the sponge and the frosting, providing moisture and a creamy texture without the need for excessive oil or butter. Yogurt is rich in protein, calcium, and probiotics, which support digestive health and strengthen the immune system. Using thick yogurt like Greek yogurt also adds a satisfying creaminess to the frosting.

A slice of chocolate orange cake on a plate.

Cocoa Powder:
Using unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder not only gives the cake a rich chocolate flavor but also adds health benefits. Cocoa is high in antioxidants, particularly flavonoids, which are known to improve heart health, reduce inflammation, and enhance mood.

Added Fruit:
Incorporating orange juice and, optionally, apricot jam or orange marmalade, not only enhances the flavor but also provides vitamins and minerals. Oranges are high in vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and improves skin health.

By using these wholesome ingredients, this chocolate orange cake becomes a nutritious treat that you can enjoy without guilt. It’s a perfect example of how indulgence and health can go hand in hand, allowing you to satisfy your sweet tooth while nourishing your body.

Ingredients needed:

These are the ingredients you’ll need to make this Chocolate Orange Cake. You can find the exact measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of this page.

For the healthy chocolate orange sponge:

Healthy chocolate orange cake ingredients in measuring cups.
  • Plain Wholemeal Flour: I use whole wheat flour as it contains more nutrients, protein, and fiber compared to refined white flour. 
  • Cocoa Powder: I recommend using Dutch-process cocoa powder as it has a lovely rich chocolaty flavor. Make sure your cocoa powder is unsweetened.
  • Salt: Enhances the chocolate flavor.
  • Oranges: Necessary for the orange flavor. We will be using the juice, but you can also save the orange zest for the frosting or add it to the cake batter. You could use bottled fresh-squeezed orange juice instead.

Chocolate orange cake from above with a slice cut.

  • Yogurt: Yogurt adds delicious moistness to these muffins without needing an excessive amount of oil or butter. It also adds extra protein and calcium to your diet – BONUS! Try to use thick yogurt like Greek yogurt or Double Cream yogurt, and make sure there are no additives or artificial sweeteners. You can use a dairy-free alternative like soy or coconut yogurt to make vegan chocolate orange cake.
  • Liquid Sweetener: To add sweetness while keeping this chocolate orange cake refined sugar-free, I recommend using a natural liquid sweetener like honey, maple syrup, agave, or date syrup.
  • Oil: To make this chocolate cake soft and moist and prevent it from drying out, a bit of oil is needed. To stay on track with the “healthy” aspect of this recipe, I recommend using either Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Grape Seed Oil. Alternatively, you can use Melted Grass-Fed Butter or Coconut Oil.
  • Apricot Jam: To spread between the sponge and chocolate frosting, this adds some extra fruity flavor and makes the cake even more decadent and moist! You can use Orange Marmalade too.

For the healthy chocolate frosting:

Healthy chocolate frosting ingredients in measuring cups.

My favorite chocolate frosting is this cream cheese chocolate frosting – it’s not only easy to make, but also healthy and high in protein!

  • Yogurt: As part of the chocolate frosting, yogurt adds volume, creaminess, and goodness. You will need to use thick yogurt like Greek yogurt or thick plain yogurt. Try to use one made with just milk and no extra additives, gums, or sweeteners. My favorite is Greek yogurt because it’s high in protein and probiotics.
  • Cream Cheese: You cannot make cream cheese frosting without cream cheese! Again, I recommend using cream cheese made with just milk and no extra additives, gums, or sweeteners.
  • Liquid Sweetener: To add sweetness while keeping this chocolate frosting refined sugar-free, I recommend using a natural liquid sweetener like honey, maple syrup, agave, or date syrup.
  • Cocoa Powder: I recommend using Dutch-process cocoa powder as it has a lovely rich chocolaty flavor. Make sure your cocoa powder is unsweetened.
Chocolate orange cake with healthy chocolate frosting on a cake stand.

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, grape seed oil, melted coconut oil, or sunflower oil. If you don’t have any of these oils on hand, you can use unsalted butter instead.
  • Liquid Sweetener: Agave, honey, coconut nectar, or any liquid sweetener will work well.
  • Orange Juice/Orange Zest: 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.
  • Alternative Chocolate Frosting Recipe: If you don’t like the sound of my cream cheese chocolate frosting, you can try this healthy chocolate frosting recipe.
Chocolate orange cake with healthy chocolate frosting on a cake stand.

Equipment needed:

How to make chocolate orange cake:

Here is a detailed summary of how to make this Chocolate Orange Cake. I’ve also included some photos, and you can watch the recipe video in the recipe card

Step one:
Start by preheating your oven and greasing your cake tins with cooking spray. You can also line your cake tins with parchment paper if you wish.

Step two:
Start by sifting your dry ingredients: whole meal flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Once sifted, give it a whisk to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Step three:
In a separate bowl, add your wet ingredients: orange juice, yogurt, liquid sweetener, and oil. Whisk until smooth.

Step four:
Create a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Whisk the batter until just combined. Be careful not to overmix the batter, as this may lead to a dense sponge.

Step five:
Evenly divide the mixture between two cake tins, then pop the sponges in the oven for 20 minutes. You will know the sponges are ready when a skewer comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Leave the sponges in the cake tin on a wire rack to cool down.

Chocolate orange cake batter in cake tins.

Step six:
Once your sponges have cooled, carefully remove them from the cake tins. Spread a layer of jam on top of one of the sponges, then add the second sponge on top.

Step seven:
It’s time for that decadent, healthy chocolate frosting! Add your cream cheese, yogurt, liquid sweetener, and cocoa powder to a bowl. You can also add some orange essence or orange zest if you like. Mix with a fork until completely smooth.

Step eight:
Spread a thick layer on top of your cake. You can also spread the frosting around the sides if you like.

Step nine:
You can add some orange zest and grated chocolate on top of your cake to decorate if you like. Place the cake in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that it’s easier to slice!

Spreading chocolate frosting on chocolate orange cake with a spatula.

Tips and Notes

  • Weigh Your Ingredients: Use a digital food scale to measure your ingredients accurately. This ensures the right consistency and texture for your cake, as cup measurements can be imprecise and lead to a dry or overly dense cake.
  • Use Room Temperature Ingredients: Make sure all your ingredients, especially yogurt and liquid sweetener, are at room temperature. This helps them mix together more smoothly, creating a better texture for your cake.
  • Sift Dry Ingredients: Sifting the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt helps to evenly distribute the ingredients and remove any lumps, ensuring a smooth batter.
  • Don’t Overmix the Batter: When combining wet and dry ingredients, mix until just combined. Overmixing can lead to a dense cake instead of a light and airy texture.
  • Even Cake Layers: For even cake layers, weigh your mixing bowl before adding ingredients. After the batter is ready, weigh the bowl again and subtract the original weight. Divide the remaining weight by two and pour equal amounts into each cake tin.
A slice of chocolate orange cake on a plate.
  • Preventing Air Bubbles: Before baking, gently bang the filled cake tins on the counter to release any air bubbles trapped in the batter. This helps to avoid holes and uneven texture in your baked cake.
  • Underbaking for Fudginess: Slightly underbake the cake to achieve a fudgy texture. The center of the cake should be slightly flatter and indented, indicating it’s not overbaked. The cake will continue to cook slightly while cooling in the tin.
  • Cooling Completely: Ensure the cake is completely cooled before frosting. If the cake is warm, the frosting can melt and become runny.
  • Cake Tin Options: If using a different-sized cake tin, adjust baking times accordingly. For a 6-inch tin, bake for 5 minutes longer. For an 8-inch tin, consider using 1.5x the recipe and possibly adding a few extra minutes to the baking time.
  • Making it Vegan: For a vegan version, use plant-based yogurt and a liquid sweetener like agave or maple syrup. Ensure all other ingredients, like cocoa powder and baking soda, are also vegan-friendly.

By following these tips and notes, you can ensure your healthy chocolate orange cake turns out perfectly every time. Enjoy baking and indulging in this delightful, nutritious treat!

Chocolate orange cake from above with a slice cut.

How to store chocolate orange cake

Room Temperature: If you plan to consume the cake within 1-2 days, you can store it at room temperature. Keep the cake in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out. Make sure the storage area is cool and dry.

Refrigerator: For longer storage, place the cake in an airtight container and refrigerate it. The cake will stay fresh for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Refrigeration helps maintain the cake’s moisture and keeps the frosting from melting or becoming too soft.

Freezer: To store the cake for an extended period, freezing is a good option. Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn, and then place it in a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container. The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. For best results, slice the cake before freezing so you can thaw individual pieces as needed.

Thawing: To thaw the cake, remove it from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. If you’re thawing individual slices, they should be ready to eat in about 30-60 minutes at room temperature.

By following these storage instructions, you can ensure your healthy chocolate orange cake stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible. 

A slice of chocolate orange cake on a plate with a bite missing.

FAQ

Can I make this cake gluten-free?

Yes, you can make this cake gluten-free by using a store-bought plain gluten-free flour blend. Do not use almond flour or coconut flour as they do not provide the same structure needed for this cake.

How can I make this cake vegan?

To make this cake vegan, use a plant-based yogurt such as soy or coconut yogurt. Ensure that your liquid sweetener and cocoa powder are also vegan-friendly. 

How can I ensure my cake layers are even?

Weigh your mixing bowl before and after adding ingredients. Subtract the bowl’s weight from the total weight, divide the batter by two, and pour equal amounts into each cake tin. This ensures evenly sized cake layers.

Can I use bottled orange juice?

Yes, you can use bottled fresh-squeezed orange juice. However, fresh orange juice is preferred for the best flavor. You can also use orange zest to enhance the orange flavor.

What if I don’t have a 7-inch cake tin?

If you are using a 6-inch cake tin, bake the cake for 5 minutes longer. For an 8-inch cake tin, consider using 1.5x the recipe and possibly adding a few extra minutes to the baking time.

How do I know when the cake is done?

The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. The center of the cake should be slightly flatter and indented, indicating it’s not overbaked.

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

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 Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts and see your photos!

A slice of chocolate orange cake on a plate.

Easy and Healthy Chocolate Orange 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.
4 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Healthy, Vegan
Servings 10 slices
Calories 301 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

For the frosting

  • 60 g Apricot Jam or Orange Marmalade (¼ cup)
  • 120 g Cream Cheese (½ cup)
  • 120 g Thick Yogurt (½ cup)
  • 60 g Liquid Sweetener (3 tbsp)
  • 35 g Cocoa Powder (⅓ cup)
  • 1 tbsp Orange Zest (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F / 160°C fan and grease your two cake tins or line them with parchment paper.
  • Sift together wholemeal flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  • In a separate bowl, add orange juice, yogurt, liquid sweetener and oil. Whisk until smooth.
  • Create a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk or fold until just combined.
  • Evenly divide the cake batter between your cake tins.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes then leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack.
  • Once cooled, spread a layer of jam onto one sponge then add the second sponge on top.

For the frosting

  • Add the cream cheese, yogurt, liquid sweetener and cocoa powder to a bowl and whisk until smooth.
  • Spread on top of your cake. You can add some orange zest or grated chocolate on top to decorate.
  • Refrigerate for at least half an hour before slicing.

Video

Notes

* see blog contents for more tips, storage instructions and 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.
  • Before baking your cakes, bang the tins onto your counter to get rid of any air bubbles.
  • 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 Cake
Serving Size
 
1 slice
Amount per Serving
Calories
301
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
14.3
g
22
%
Carbohydrates
 
41.8
g
14
%
Protein
 
7.9
g
16
%
* 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

I hope you enjoyed making this chocolate orange cake!