According to Milk Street, good olive oil is the secret to this rich, moist chocolate cake. Chocolate and olive oil might seem an unlikely pair, but in the Mediterranean, they are soul mates. And while the combination shows up in numerous desserts—from cookies to gelato—nowhere is this affinity more apparent than in the deliciously moist olive oil-based chocolate cakes made across Spain, Italy and Greece.
Your mouth watering yet? “Of all the ingredients that go into a cake, fat is one of the most important. Fat coats flour, which limits gluten formation to help cakes bake up fluffy, not chewy. Oil is particularly good at this, creating a plusher mouthfeel and softer crumb than butter because it is liquid at room temperature. Butter solidifies as it cools, resulting in a tougher texture.” So there you have it!
Double down by using both bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder. Then enhance those flavors even further with two of chocolate’s other surprising bedfellows: espresso and lemon. Use espresso powder to amplify chocolate, as its roasty depth underscores the chocolate’s pleasant astringency. And lemon juice balances both with a shot of citrusy brightness.
Please don’t overbake the cake. Be sure to test it by inserting a toothpick into the center; it should come out with a few moist crumbs attached, as if baking brownies. Don’t be alarmed when the center of the cake deflates as it cools; this is normal. We brought it to a party and the guests gushed, giving it rave reviews. So friggin’ fudge-alicious that we made it a few weeks later for another party!
Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed, plus more to serve (optional)
- 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
- 1 cup white sugar, divided
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Mist a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
- In a medium saucepan over medium, bring about 1 inch of water to a simmer. Put the chocolate in a heatproof large bowl and set the bowl on top of the saucepan; be sure the bottom does not touch the water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the bowl from the pan. Add the oil, cocoa, espresso powder and 107 grams (½ cup) sugar; whisk until well combined. Add the egg yolks and lemon juice; whisk until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and gently whisk until fully incorporated.
- In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining 107 grams (½ cup) of the sugar, then beat until the whites hold soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. Add about one-third of the whipped whites to the yolk-chocolate mixture and fold with a silicone spatula to lighten and loosen the base. Scrape in the remaining whites and gently fold in until well combined and no white streaks remain; the batter will be light and airy.
- Gently pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake until well risen, the surface is crusty and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes; do not overbake.
- Set the pan on a wire rack and immediately run a narrow-bladed knife around the edge of the cake to loosen the sides. Cool in the pan for at least 1 hour before serving; the cake will deflate as it cools. When ready to serve, remove the pan sides and, if desired, dust with cocoa.
Recipe by Rose Hattabaugh for Milk Street