Chocolate orange Kinnie cake

I love plain dark 85%+ chocolate. J loves ‘Kinnie’. We both love oranges. I like my cakes healthier and he likes his cakes to be, well, indulgent, “as cakes should be”. This recipe I’ve devised with two key ingredients familiar to Malta and to cognoscenti of the Islands. It’s the bitter-sweet side to both our taste buds.

Kinnie chocolate orange cake

For those not in the know, Kinnie is an iconic Maltese soft drink based on bitter oranges, a fruit introduced when the Arabs colonised the islands from 870 to the early middle ages. Kinnie has been made under licence in Australia for some time and is now available Europe-wide on Amazon. It is fondly sought out by the Maltese diaspora and no doubt visitors to Malta who’ve a taste for it when they get back home. A couple of cafes I know in London serve it, thanks to their Maltese and Maltese-Australian owners. Kinnie (and you can use Coca-Cola or Pepsi instead if you can’t find Kinnie or similar) does help moisten the cake and give it a richer flavour. I’ve added a spoonful to the ricotta icing too. The remainder of the bottle will be downed by J to accompany the cake. I prefer a cuppa tea!

Kinnie Chocolate Orange Cake

I have no idea if this will make it to your tea tables but do try it out however weird it sounds. The cake has plenty going for it; a choc cake that’s moist is a recipe to make and re-make, especially for birthdays and high days.

Kinnie chocolate orange cake

I used up some Modica chocolate in this recipe along with some 85% cocoa solid chocolate. Modica chocolate is quite an acquired taste as it’s granular. The sugar isn’t totally dissolved when they make it. Eating Modica chocolate is a good reminder that sugar is a key ingredient in most choc bars, lest we forget. I’ve not read ‘French women don’t get fat: the secret of eating for pleasure‘ but believe one of the author’s insider tips is to go ahead, by all means, and eat chocolate but to savour one square a day and only of the strong, dark, high percentage cocoa solid variety.

This chocolate orange Kinnie cake comes with the same proviso. Make it once in a while, savour it and make it again next quarter. Why am I making it now, mid week at the end of February? As a treat for J; his school report plopped in the box today, and he deserves this!

All images © Liz Ayling 2013

Chocolate orange Kinnie cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A moreish and moist chocolate orange cake with a dash of Malta's iconic soft drink Kinnie, which is made from bitter oranges.
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: Maltese
Serves: 10-12
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 heaped tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 200ml Kinnie, or a similar soft drink, or Coca-Cola or Pepsi
  • 100ml freshly-squeezed orange juice
  • zest of two oranges
  • 3 rounded tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • Topping
  • 350g ricotta
  • 2 or 3 tbsps single cream, or more if mix too stiff
  • 3 level tbsps icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 tsp Kinnie
  • orange zest to decorate
  • chocolate – grated or flakes for decoration, if desired
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a 24cm spring-form, loose-base baking tin.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, bicarb of soda and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl. Add the orange zest.
  3. Melt the butter slowly and gently in a pan over a low heat, along with the Kinnie or your alternative fizzy soft drink.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and add the orange juice to them.
  5. Pour the melted butter & Kinnie mix into the dry ingredients, give a couple of stirs and add the egg mix as well. Beat all ingredients together well, making sure no dry bits are left.
  6. Pour the cake mix into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until risen. Test with a cocktail stick to ensure centre isn’t gooey and uncooked. It will be moister than a regular sponge though.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then turn out on a wire cooling rack.
  8. Topping: while the cake cools completely, place the ricotta in a bowl, along with 2 tbsps icing sugar and 2 tbsp single cream. Beat with a hand mixer until blended. If too stiff, add more cream; or if too runny, add a bit more icing sugar. It should be viscous but not overly runny otherwise it will drip off the cake.
  9. When the cake is cool, scrape over the topping, even out a bit with a knife.
  10. Sprinkle with some orange zest and grated chocolate if you wish. I prefer it just with zest.
  11. After serving, keep the cake covered in the fridge as it has a ricotta & cream topping. You can use soft cream cheese like Philadelphia too instead of ricotta. It freezes well, ideally without the topping though. I usually cut it in half and freeze half for another day.


    • says

      Jill, yes, you should be able to find it easily enough given Aus’s large Maltese-descent community. See the Kinnie site (link in my post) and facebook page and ask there about the Aus distribution. You could use other dark bitter fizzy drinks though. I like the idea of the secret Kinnie recipe and its use of those bitter oranges though. I think it does add a distinctly different flavour.

  1. Patricia says

    I’m not normally fond of ‘sweet’ things, but this looks good. We are a ‘one cake every two months’ kind of people, but somehow the ingredients appeal….

    • says

      In fact, eating another slice today, I noted to myself that it isn’t overly sweet at all. There’s 200g sugar but one can easily reduce that further without upsetting the recipe’s balance. The topping can be made without the icing sugar, and just ricotta mixed with some yoghurt (not even cream if you prefer). There are no bars of choc in it unless you grate some over. Instead of the Kinnie or soft drink, top up the volume of orange juice. And voila’, it’s even less sweet toothed!

    • says

      So glad Maroushka! Yes, it’s super moist and scrummy and always a good recipe to pull out for high days and feast days – one for my chocoholic son’s birthday later in the year!

    • says

      John, I am not sure if any shops are selling it but you can definitely find it at a Maltese-run cafe’ in Putney-Hammersmith area, called Parparellu. I’ve a post on it on my other blog, Maltainsideout here. If you pop in or perhaps contact the cafe, I am sure owner Joseph Pace can point you in the direction of any other Kinnie outlets, or perhaps sell a batch to you! Let me know how you get on. Alternatively, contact manufacturer Farsons directly to see if they can help.


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