BOILED MANDARIN CAKES with Chocolate Olive Oil Ganache

17th September, 2020


Thank goodness for citrus season. These little pops of orange and yellow bring a welcome freshness to the kitchen through late winter and into spring. The mandarin tree gifted by my father for my daughter’s fifth birthday (she is now ten) is starting to earn its keep with the branches flush with fruit this season. It really is a gift that keeps on giving.

Our navel orange tree has also been the most heavily laden I have seen it in the 14 years living and gardening here. So much so that when the fruit was turning colour earlier in the season the tree was as much orange as green! I imagine this is thanks to the bees our neighbour looks after in our backyard. However, the Lisbon lemons continue to fruit in an upsidedown season fashion, choosing to ripen in summer. Luckily a friend nearby has an abundant Meyer lemon for our lemon, ginger and honey drinks through the winter months.

I hope you enjoy these little cakes inspired by the Sicilian whole orange cake, using mandarins instead of oranges as they cook much faster. The boiled whole mandarins are used in the cakes, skin and all!

Boiled Mandarin Cakes with Chocolate Olive Oil Ganache

I prepare a ground seed and nut mix for using in baking – similar to LSA – including (but not limited to) equal quantities of golden flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and hazelnuts.
Servings 9 cakes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Mandarin boiling time 30 minutes


  • 4 medium unpeeled mandarins, about 150g
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp honey or 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup (100g) white flour (can use gluten-free flour)
  • 1/2 cup (50g) LSA (see headnote) or ground almonds
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Chocolate olive oil ganache
  • 80 g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 2 tsp olive oil


  • First, place the unpeeled mandarins in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to boil and cook for 30 minutes. Top up with extra boiling water as needed to keep the mandarins covered. After this time, drain and leave to cool completely.
  • Preheat the oven to 170C. Generously grease a medium-sized muffin tray (9 holes will be used) – or line with cupcake cases.
  • Halve the boiled mandarins and place into a food processor, along with the eggs and honey. Blend until smooth.
  • Add the flour, LSA, baking powder and baking soda. Pulse 6-8 times until just incorporated – don’t over mix or the cakes will be tough. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tray to fill 9 holes.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer the cakes to a cooling rack.
  • Make the ganache: Place the chocolate and olive oil into a bowl and set this over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Once melted remove from the heat, stir and cool for 5 minutes. Sit the rack of cakes over a plate or tray and slowly pour a tablespoon of ganache over each cake. Leave to set then use a small knife to loosen the chocolate drips and place these on top of the cakes to decorate.
  • Store in an airtight container and consume within 3 days.
Author: Nicola Galloway

Join the Conversation

  1. Hi Nicola, this recipe looks delicious! Do you think grapefruit could work instead of mandarins? Or too sour? I have so many right now..

    1. Thanks Kate 🙂 I haven’t tried making this with grapefruit, and my experience with cooking with grapefruit is it tends to be rather sour and bitter once cooked. If you have the sweet thin-skinned variety it may be OK, but otherwise I don’t think it would be very tasty.

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