Inspired by espresso tonic drinks, which often use orange peel as a garnish, I add brewed coffee to this cake to bring out the floral notes of the chocolate and tie them together with those of the orange zest, juice and liqueur. This cake also works great with other sweet orange citrus, like mandarins, Cara Caras and blood oranges. Make sure to bake the cake in a light metal pan since dark metal will cause it to darken too much at the edge.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Evenly grease the inside of a light metal 9-inch round cake pan with butter, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, then grease the paper. Dust the inside of the pan evenly with flour and tap out the excess.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl, then whisk to combine. Place the chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl and melt in the microwave or over a small saucepan of simmering water; set aside to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or large bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar. Using a Microplane set over the bowl, finely grate zest from the 2 oranges (reserve the oranges) over the butter and sugar, then add the orange liqueur. Beat on low speed until the mixture is uniform, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add one egg, beat until smooth, then add the second egg, beating until smooth. Use a large silicone spatula to scrape down the side and bottom of the bowl.
Add the melted chocolate and beat on low speed until just combined. While still mixing on low speed, spoon about one-third of the dry ingredients into the batter, followed by half of the coffee drizzled down the side of the bowl. Spoon in half the remaining dry ingredients, followed by the remaining coffee. Finally, add the remaining dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Turn off the mixer and scrape the beater, side and bottom of the bowl to ensure the batter is smooth and well-mixed.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just one or two crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool completely in the pan. The cake will be slightly domed and cracked in the center when it comes out of the oven, but it will level off as it cools.
Once the cake is cooled, make the glaze: Place the chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl that holds it in a tight layer (if you don’t have one small enough, use a 1-cup measuring cup). Juice the reserved oranges, then strain the juice through a fine sieve into a liquid measuring cup to remove any pulp and seeds. Measure out ¾ cup/175 milliliters and discard or drink the rest.
Pour the juice into a small saucepan (reserve the measuring cup) and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced to 3 tablespoons, 7 to 8 minutes. To do this, periodically remove the pan from the heat and pour the juice into the reserved measuring cup to check the amount; pour it back into the pan, then place it back on the heat to continue cooking until you reach 3 tablespoons. If you accidentally over-reduce it, simply add enough hot tap water to the juice to reach 3 tablespoons.
Pour the boiling-hot juice over the chocolate and let stand 1 minute to melt the chocolate. Using a small whisk positioned in the center of the bowl, gently agitate the mixture (do not move the whisk around the bowl) until it emulsifies into a smooth ganache, then move the whisk around the bowl to ensure the mixture is evenly combined. It should go from looking split and grainy to shiny and smooth when ready. Add the softened butter and whisk until it melts, creating a spreadable, smooth ganache.
Invert the cake onto a rack and remove the pan and parchment paper. Invert the cake again onto a serving plate so it is top side up. Scrape the ganache onto the top of the cake and use an offset spatula or spoon to gently spread it over the top of the cake to the edge (try not to let any ganache go over the side of the cake, but if it does, it’s OK). Serve the cake right away or let it sit overnight to allow the ganache to set. It’s great either way.
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