Chocolate-Orange Cream Chiffon Sandwiches

Continuing on with our weekly chiffon cake sandwiches, our next once is the chocolate-orange. I personally adore the chocolate chiffon cake that we use for this recipe, since it is soft and spongy, but also full of cocoa flavor. I highly recommend using black cacao powder for this recipe, because it adds a fruitiness to the sponge that pairs well with orange, although any cocoa or cacao powder works nicely in this recipe as well, worst comes to worst! I know that the combination of chocolate with citrus is polarizing – some people REALLY can’t stand it. For me, I find that the bitterness and richness of chocolate compliments the tartness and brightness of any citrus, except maybe grapefruit, but that is because grapefruit is inherently bitter – grapefruit and white chocolate, though, that is a pairing I would get behind! Grapefruit tangent aside, I am a firm sailor of the chocolate and orange ship. Like with the other chiffon cake sandwiches, I included options to convert this recipe into a gluten-free version, as surprise-surprise, but the cake pictured in this post is actually a gluten-free chocolate chiffon cake with mochiko and tapioca starch! Hilariously enough, because of how well-hydrated the batter is from the more 1 to 1 ratio of egg yolk to white, the cake itself is very hard to discern from one that uses just regular flour!

For the components, we have the chocolate chiffon cake, orange curd, chantilly cream, and candied orange peels to finish. I will admit that in the picture, I used satsuma mikan, although that is not readily available and is a winter citrus, so using normal oranges just perfectly acceptable as well! For those unfamiliar with a satsuma mikan, they are these bright orange tangerines that are popular in Japan, and readily available in the fall/winter. These tangerines have a mild flavor in the juice, and the real citrus notes come from their zest, which was why I felt the need to candy the peels for the garnish! I will admit that chocolate is a slightly less represented flavor in these sandwiches, but the logic behind that was because chocolate can be very overpowering, and just to make sure that the citrus came through more, I wanted to limit the chocolate to just the light sponge, so then the mikan could add bright notes that really highlight the fruitiness of the black cacao powder I used. You can garnish the tops of these cakes with some dark chocolate shavings or something as well, but in my case, I wanted to really highlight the satsuma mikan as well.

Makes 8 sandwiches:
For the chocolate chiffon cake:
6 eggs, separated
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil
a pinch of salt
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cups all-purpose flour(replace with 2/3 cup mochiko, 1/4 cup tapioca starch, and 1/4 tsp xanthan gum if you want this to be fully gluten-free)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

In a bowl, whip the egg whites with sugar to stiff peaks. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with vanilla, canola oil, salt, and milk until combined. Into the egg yolk mixture, sift the flours, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Fold into that the egg whites to form your batter. Pour the batter into an 8-inch chiffon cake mold. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 minutes first. Then turn off the oven, and let the cake sit in the oven for 10 minutes, with the oven door slightly opened. Finally, take the cake out, flip upside down, and allow the cake to cool completely, while upside down, at room temperature.

Once the cake is fully cooled, scrape the sides away from the tin using an offset spatula. Then gently remove the cake from the pan. Cut the cake into 8 pieces, cutting each piece halfway down the middle to create slits. Store these cakes in an airtight container.

For the orange curd:
Juice and zest from 3 oranges
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp unsalted butter
a pinch of salt

In a pot, whisk everything but the butter together first. Then bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Once the mixture begins to boil, take off heat and whisk in the butter. Pass everything through a sieve to remove any lumps and allow the curd to cool down completely.

For the candied orange peel:
Peels and juice from 1 orange
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp granulated sugar
a pinch of salt

In a pot, blanch the orange peels in the 1/4 cup of water first for 5 minutes. Remove the water, and add to the pot the orange juice, sugar, and salt. Bring everything to a simmer, cooking out the orange juice and melting down the sugar and salt into a thick syrup that the orange peels will stew into. Once the liquid is almost completely evaporated, pour the peels onto a nonstick surface, and freeze for an hour. Keep frozen prior to plating.

For the cream:
6oz heavy cream
1oz confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
a pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest

Whisk everything together until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag and store in the refrigerator until time to use.

To assemble:
Start by piping a row of cream into each sandwich. Then pipe a row of the orange curd. Then a row of dollops of cream on top of the curd. Top with dots of the curd, and the orange peel to finish.

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