for the love of chocolate – passion fruit truffle cake

by hungryrabbit on May 17, 2013

Passion Fruit Truffle Cake

I had never tried to combine chocolate with any citrus, except for orange. The reason is I grew up with Orange Milano cookies from Pepperidge Farm–I thought orange and chocolate were the only possibility.

Then I took my first bite of a truffle infused with citrus. Hmm, was it lemon, grapefruit, or passion fruit? It didn’t matter. The combination triggered a sensory awakening.

I wanted to take cue from those pop-in-your-mouth confections to create my own dessert–one that mimics the richness of a truffle but packed with chocolate–blown up from bite size to cake size.

This dessert should resolve anyone’s chocolate cravings–a heart of truffle-textured chocolate surrounded by passion fruit curd and sandwiched between two classic chocolate cake layers, with everything enveloped in a ganache frosting done two ways. (More chocolate = additional antioxidant benefits if you want to play up the health angle for this decadence.) The curd lends a refreshing offset to the overall richness.

With more than 1-1/2 pounds of chocolate in this cake, I think its safe to say that it’s a chocoholic’s dream. If you are a purist, you can omit the passion curd and spread some ganache frosting in between the layers; but I highly recommend that you give this citrus-chocolate a try.


Passion Fruit Truffle Cake

yield one 9-inch cake

Passion Fruit Curd


1/2 cup passion fruit purée
1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin
3/4 cup granulated sugar (5-1/4 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen


1. Measure 1 tablespoon passion fruit purée into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over top. Heat remaining passion fruit purée, sugar, and salt in medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot but not boiling. Whisk eggs and yolks in large nonreactive bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot passion fruit-sugar mixture into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with heatproof spatula, until mixture registers 170 degrees on instant-read thermometer and is thick enough to leave trail when spatula is scraped along pan bottom, 4 to 6 minutes.

2. Remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in frozen butter until incorporated. Pour filling through fine-mesh strainer into nonreactive bowl (you should have 3 cups). Cover surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm enough to spread, at least 4 hours.

Orange-Chocolate Cake Layer


2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa, sifted
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 cup boiling water
1 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces), plus additional for dusting cake pan
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (about 2-1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoons orange zest, freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons sour cream, room temperature


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350℉. Combine chocolate, cocoa and espresso in small bowl; pour boiling water over and let stand to melt chocolate, about 2 minutes. Whisk until smooth; set aside until cooled to room temperature.

2. Spray one 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high straight-sided cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; line bottom with parchment round. Spray paper round, dust pan with flour, and knock out excess. Set aside.

3. Sift flour and baking soda into medium bowl.

4. In bowl of standing mixer, beat sugars, orange zest and salt at medium-low speed until sugar is moistened, about 30 seconds. Add butter, Increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula if necessary. Reduce speed to medium, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down bowl halfway through. Beat in vanilla; increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds.

5. Add chocolate and beat until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl. With mixer running at low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, ending with dry ingredients. Beat in each addition until barely combined. Finish mixing by hand with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl, to ensure that batter is homogenous. Pour batter into prepared cake pan; spread batter to edges of pans with rubber spatula and smooth surface.

6. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then invert cakes onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard paper rounds. Cool cakes to room temperature, about 1 hour. (Cooled cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.)

Chocolate Truffle Cake Layer


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup (5-1/4 ounces), plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
16 tablespoons (8 ounces/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 16 pieces
4 large eggs, room temperature and lightly beaten


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350℉. Spray one 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high straight-sided cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; line bottom with parchment round and spray parchment. Set prepared pan in large roasting pan lined with towel. Bring kettle of ayer to a boil.

2. Place chocolate in food processor fitted with metal blade. Bring water, sugar, espresso and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. (Make sure syrup does not come to a boil.) With food processor running, slowly pour hot syrup through the feed tube into the chocolate. Process until mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Stop machine scrape side of bowl and add vanilla extract.

3. With machine running, add butter one piece at a time, process until smooth and no butter chunks remain, about 1 minute, scraping down bowl as needed. Pour eggs in slow stream through the feed tube into the chocolate mixture, pulse just enough to incorporate without blending in too much air. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

4. Set roasting pan on oven rack and pour enough boiling water to come about halfway up the side of cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until set. Remove cake pan from water bath and set on wire rack, cool to room temperature.

5. Cover the top of the cake with plastic wrap and top with cardboard round. Invert cake, give it a gentle downward shake if necessary. Lift cake pan and peel off the parchment. Assemble immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Salty Ganache Frosting


2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 ounces milk or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1-1/2 teaspoons Maldon salt, flaked sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Bring heavy cream and espresso to a full boil in a saucepan over medium heat, turn off heat. Add chocolate, and swirl pan to completely cover with cream. Slowly whisk mixture until smooth. Add corn syrup, salt and vanilla; stir until combined. Transfer to a medium-size glass bowl and let stand at cool room temperature until tick and spreadable, about 30-40 minutes.


1.  Cut orange-chocolate cake layer in half horizontally. Place one cake layer on the bottom of cake stand or serving platter. Spread 1 cup passion fruit curd over cake layer; top with chocolate truffle layer. Top chocolate truffle cake with another cup  of passion fruit curd follow by the the remaining orange-chocolate cake layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.

2. Gently spread about half of the ganache frosting (you might use less) over top and side of cake, smooth with off-set spatula,

3. Beat the remaining frosting with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spread whipped frosting on the side with off-set spatula. Refrigerate cake for 30 min before serving.


1. You can use ganache frosting without Step 3 or omit Step 2 and use only whipped ganache frosting, as described in Step 3.


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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Helene D'souza May 17, 2013 at 7:23 am

I fell in love just at the sight of your moist chocolate passion fruit cake. What type of passion fruits did you use? We have lots of yellow ones growing here and they are quite sour and since you mentioned the orange chocolate cookies, I think our passion fruits would work well in your cake recipe.

Jamie May 17, 2013 at 7:58 am

OMG Ken this is heaven! Heaven! I have never seen anything I have wanted more. I am imaging the flavors – chocolat with the curd with the hint of salt in the ganache. Stunning. So seriously, when does the bakery open? You are spectacularly talented! This is just gorgeous.

hungryrabbit May 17, 2013 at 8:06 am

Hi Helene, I wish I have passion fruit tree. I used frozen pureé.

hungryrabbit May 17, 2013 at 8:07 am

Oh Jamie, you are too kind. Promise I’ll serve up dessert next time you are in NYC. xo Ken

Cat May 17, 2013 at 8:18 am

This looks amazing! I was a bit confused when you said hot lemon-sugar mixture (when there is no lemons lol), I believe you meant passion fruit-sugar mixture. You probably previously made it with lemons and switched the recipe over :) Great idea, must do next time!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar May 17, 2013 at 8:22 am

This is so stunning! Gorgeous recipe!

hungryrabbit May 17, 2013 at 8:22 am

Hi Cat, you are spot on, I’ve adapted this from my lemon curd recipe. Thank you so much for pointing that out. Note to self: do not edit post late at night. Happy Baking -Ken

Wendy Read May 17, 2013 at 9:38 am

Absolutely gorgeous Ken!!! I have pinned for later, this cake looks to die for and the photos are stunning.

Tellou May 17, 2013 at 9:42 am

Definitely the kind of cake I enjoy baking. I love the layers and I definitely enjoy the combination chocolat/fruit. I made a similar one with lemon not so long ago and those kind of cakes are just hits among friends. Hummmmm

kelly @ kellybakes May 17, 2013 at 10:39 am

Oh, Ken. You had me swooning before my coffee this morning. Shame on you for making something so gorgeous that you can’t ship to me! ;)

Margaret May 17, 2013 at 3:27 pm

I LOVE passion fruit! The chocolate and passion fruit combo is heaven. I’m wishing for a piece right now!

Liren May 17, 2013 at 7:19 pm

For the record, I still love those Milano cookies :) But something tells me I will love this more. Ken, you amaze me.

Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen May 20, 2013 at 12:51 pm

This looks absolutely stunning and it sounds heavenly! I love all the layers and really love the sound of the flavour combinations!

Ala May 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm

a) orange-chocolate milanos are amazing, and b) when can I pay for your plane ticket to fly over here and make this for me? What the heck, I’ll make it myself this weekend. It looks heavenly–THANK you!

Trisha May 21, 2013 at 9:28 am

This look awesome! Really cool idea… I am also sometimes cautious with fruits and chocolate. I think citrus and passionfruit both would go well, now that you mention it!

thanks for sharing


foodnerd4life May 22, 2013 at 7:04 am

This looks amazing! I love the use of the different layers and the use of passion fruit with the chocolate and a salted ganache, yum! May attempt it for my brother’s wedding cake. Thanks!

FoodNerd x

DB-The Foodie Stuntman May 27, 2013 at 1:36 pm

The trifle looks delicious and it’s good to see another male food blogger. We are definitely a minoroty.

Kailley @ Kailley's Kitchen May 29, 2013 at 6:30 pm

This looks and sounds truly fabulous! I can’t wait to make it!

MikeVFMK June 4, 2013 at 10:34 pm

WOAH! That is one beautiful cake, and passion fruit truffle? That first image is ridiculous! So good Ken!

thelittleloaf June 14, 2013 at 7:25 am

I’ve not been to your blog for a while and now I can’t think why not – too many gorgeous recipes in one place! I’ve been meaning to try chocolate and passion fruit for ages – this looks seriously good.

Lillian June 19, 2013 at 11:47 pm

This cake looks delicious! And I love the photos, really nice blog :)

Tracy September 18, 2013 at 6:31 pm

I just made this cake for my birthday. Thank you for a great recipe. As a chocolate and fruit lover, I very much enjoyed the tangy, rich combination that this cake provided. However, the recipe made WAY too much curd and ganache frosting. Why do you need to make 3 cups of curd, when in the assembly instructions you only say to use 2? I also have a ton of leftover ganache: I would recommend halving the recipe for that as well and using only 1 tsp salt. It was a little too salty for me.

Other changes I made: I used fat-free evaporated milk instead of heavy cream for the ganache, and it was still plenty rich and thick. Just take care to not let it boil like the cream. I also used light sour cream for the cake layer, and only 2 eggs for the curd. I replaced the extra egg yolks with cornstarch and it turned out just fine.

Samantha November 8, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Do you have any suggestions for a substitute to passion fruit? I realize it’s kind of a key ingredient here, but I just can’t easily get my hands on any and am dying to make this cake. An orange curd? Perhaps too much with the orange cake? Raspberry, even?

hungryrabbit November 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Hi Samantha, you can use a mango, lemon or lime curd to simulate the sweet and tartness of the passion fruit. Raspberry will give it a different taste profile. Happy Baking! -Ken

kasia December 16, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Hi! I live in France, I have found a passion fruit purée but the texture is more like a juce, is it normal?

hungryrabbit December 17, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Hi Kasia, passion fruit puree is not thick like raspberry or mango. It has a juice like consistency and that’s just fine. -Ken

Baby June May 3, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Oh my goodness. This was probably the best thing I ever made. I followed the directions exactly, except for using a bit of orange juice instead of passionfruit puree (didn’t have enough) and it was mind blowing. That salty ganache frosting is just sooo addicting. I will be forever grateful for this culinary experience you have afforded me and my family. :)

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