Note: Jessie Oleson (aka Cakespy) is a good pal of Serious Eats and an all-around super cool gal. Every Monday she will be chiming in with a delicious dessert recipe.
Ah, Labor Day, that last hurrah of the outdoor eating season. As I see it, there's only one major problem with this grill-friendly holiday: a severe lack of cakes. And so, in an effort to discover cakes that might lend themselves to outdoor preparation, I consulted the most knowledgeable experts I could think of: The Boy Scouts.
According to a vintage Boy Scouts camping recipe pamphlet I found at a local thrift store, these crafty boys have a sweet campfire trick up their sleeves that's easily translated to grilling: they bake their cakes over the fire in hollowed-out oranges. Strange as it may sound, it actually works.
The result is a very moist cake with a whisper of infused orange flavor. Apparently the Scouts don't have qualms about using cake mix. Just about every recipe I found called for it, so that's what I used, in the darkest chocolate variation I could find. However, I see no reason why the recipe wouldn't work with a batch of the homemade cake batter. If you do use a cake mix, though, it's OK: you can make up for this culinary sin by making the frosting yourself.
Two final notes: first, be sure to prepare these before grilling meat, as I can't vouch for the deliciousness of burger-infused chocolate orange cake. Second, if you don't have a grill, the recipe works just fine in the oven too--just place the filled oranges in foil directly on a cookie sheet and bake according to the cake recipe, allowing a few minutes either way on the specified bake time.
- Yield:12 to 15 cakes
- 1 box chocolate cake mix, or 1 batch of batter for a single-layer cake of your choosing
- 12 large oranges or 15 small oranges (types with a thick rind work best)
- Rich Fudge Frosting (recipe follows)
- 1 stick butter
- 3 tablespoons cocoa
- 1/3 cup light cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 4 to 6 cups confectioners' sugar
Mix cake mix according to the instructions on box; put to the side (do not bake).
Slice the top third of each orange; leave the top pieces to the side (you can use them as garnish later). Scoop the fruit out of the bottom 2/3 of the fruit, so that you have an empty shell.
Fill each orange shell 3/4 full with cake batter.
Nestle each orange within an 8-inch square of foil; place directly on grill.
Grill for 15 to 20 minutes; shift frequently. To check if the cake is done, insert a skewer or toothpick; if it comes out clean, the cake's ready.
At this point you have two options: you can let them cool, and frost liberally with chocolate fudge frosting and slices from the unused top portion of the orange as garnish; or, you can eat the hot, unfrosted cake directly from the orange. Your choice.
For the frosting: In a saucepan, combine butter, cocoa, and milk; bring to a light boil. Add vanilla. Also add confectioners' sugar, cup by cup, stirring constantly, until the frosting has reached the desired consistency.