Grand Marnier Chocolate Cake with Vanilla & Cream Cheese frosting

My friend needed a cake. I mean we all NEED cake…

And my instructions were something with vanilla and chocolate. Okey dokey. So I decided I would make her a Grand Marnier Chocolate Cake with Vanilla & Cream Cheese frosting.

Dark chocolate sponge, vanilla & Grand Marnier cream cheese icing & raspberry jam centre

So I baked my go to chocolate cake recipe which is super speedy and easy but always a winner. I think the trick is in the hot espresso. I’ve read a few chocolate cake recipes in the past that have included coffee in various forms  and I must admit it really enhances the chocolate flavour and as long as you don’t overdo it you really don’t even taste the coffee. Add some good quality vanilla into the mix and you’re winning.

Chocolate Cake


170g plain flour

210g muscavado sugar

60g dark cocoa powder

1 1/3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp salt

160ml full cream milk

80g neutral oil

2 eggs

3 tsp vanilla extract

160ml hot espresso

*I sometimes use my vanilla, caramel or chocolate Nespresso pods for some added yumness


Pre-heat oven to 180˚C. Grease a 20cm cake tin. (or double the recipe and grease 2 if you want a four layer cake.)

Sift all dry ingredients together and whisk in the muscavado sugar as it is thick and sticky and will never go through a sieve!

Whisk together eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Gradually add the hot espresso a little bit at a time to temper the eggs. Incorporate well.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together and pour into cake tin. (Take a moment to smell the batter right now. It’s glorious.)

Bake for roughly 30min until a knife comes out almost clean. Do not over-bake this cake or it loses its fudge like consistency. Let it cool slightly in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack.

The start of the layering and icing

While the cake is cooling make your icing.

Vanilla & Grand Marnier Cream Cheese Icing


250g cream cheese, at room temperature  (Don’t mess around- buy the good stuff. I use Philadelphia.)

105g softened butter

200g icing sugar, sifted

2 Tbsp whipping cream

2 tsp vanilla extract or ground vanilla powder/ pods

1 tsp sea salt

zest of 1 orange

Generous glug of Grand Marnier


Place the cream cheese into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until soft and fluffy. Add the butter and beat well.

Add the vanilla, salt, orange zest, cream and Grand Marnier. Mix well.

Carefully and gradually add the icing sugar in small amounts and mix it in on the lowest speed or you’ll end up looking like a Columbian drug lord.

You can pop this into a piping bag and store in the refrigerator until needed.

Strawberry jam centre
Raspberry jam as a little surprise in the centre

Once the cake has cooled completely use a large serrated knife to slice it horizontally in half.

Pipe your cream cheese icing in circles to leave space for the jam.

Spoon in the jam. Apricot would work beautifully too!

Almost straight… Little bit of a lean

Carefully begin layering your cake. Do not press down as the weight of the layers will do that for you.

For your final top layer. if it has too much of a dome slice it flat across so that you have a neater finish. And OF COURSE you get to sample the delicious little crunchy top bit of the cake.

Geraniums and pansies from my garden adding some happy colour

Using an off set palette knife pile too much icing onto the top of the cake and start working it down. And you scrape it down and along the sides of the cake you can remove the excess. Once your sides and sufficiently covered in a ‘naked cake’ kind of way you can smooth out the top.

I finished the top off with some swirls of icing and edible flowers from my garden.

Et voilà! Let there be cake!

The finished product