Chocolate Olive Oil Cake is the little black dress of your dessert table. Classic, classy and it goes with everything! Make this recipe as simple or as sophisticated as you would like.
This chocolate olive oil cake is the perfect treat for true chocolate lovers. Like Italian Carrot Cake, it's sweet without being cloying, with an unbelievably tender crumb thanks to the extra-virgin olive oil in the batter.
The Greek yogurt whipped topping adds tangy balance to the rich chocolate flavor. And the best part of all? This cake is an absolute snap to bake. Keep it simple and eat it with just a dusting of powdered sugar or dress it up with a spoonful of mixed berry or strawberry compote or a scoop of frozen yogurt.
Fancy-tasting enough to crown the end of a romantic dinner but easy enough to assemble on a weeknight, you’ll find yourself reaching for this recipe again and again.
Table of Contents
Ingredients You’ll Need:
This cake comes together with relatively minimal ingredients, making a showstopper dessert an absolute snap to bake. Use the best quality cocoa powder and good extra virgin olive oil here, as those flavors really shine!
- Hot water: The use of hot water in cake batter was popularized during the Great Depression, when ingredients like milk were difficult to find. Hot water added to cake batter has the additional advantage of creating an incredibly smooth texture and very moist crumb. In addition to that, cakes made with water last longer than cakes made with milk! The hot water is used to fully hydrate the cocoa powder, resulting in deeper chocolate notes in the finished cake.
- All-purpose flour: This provides structure and heft to the cake. Avoiding gluten? Substitute your favorite gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, but know that the cake will have a slightly denser texture.
- Baking soda: When combined with water and the acid from the cocoa powder, baking soda releases tiny carbon dioxide bubbles in the cake batter, giving the finished cake a soft, airy texture.
- Kosher salt: A pinch of salt enhances the flavor of chocolate.
- Eggs: Eggs add structure and richness to the cake.
- Extra-virgin olive oil: Good quality extra-virgin olive oil adds smooth, fruity flavors that play nicely against the slight bitterness of the cocoa powder. Olive oil adds a velvety texture and rich moistness to this cake without weighing it down. When using olive oil for baking you want to opt for something mild and fruity over something more peppery. I prefer our Arbequina California Olive Oil for this job.
- Vanilla and almond extracts: To complement the herbaceous flavors of the olive oil, I’ve used both vanilla and almond extracts here. Almond extract lends a subtle flavor note that melds in perfectly with the olive oil and chocolate. Don’t have almond extract on hand? Simply use vanilla extract.
- Organic Cane Sugar: Compared to refined white sugar, organic cane sugar is less processed and retains more nutrients in the form of molasses. The crystals are slightly larger and lightly golden in color. White sugar is a fine substitution, but I recommend using organic cane sugar for its slightly caramelized flavor.
- Natural Cocoa Powder: The most common type of cocoa powder, natural cocoa powder is acidic and deeply chocolatey. It has a bright, fruity flavor that balances the fat in the olive oil and eggs in this recipe. It also provides a deep, rich color for our cake. Dutch process and black cocoa powders are not good fits for this recipe.
- Heavy Cream and Greek Yogurt: I combine these to use as a simple garnish for the cake, but if you want to keep it easy you can just dust the cake with powdered sugar.
- Powdered sugar: I use just a little bit of powdered sugar in the whipped topping just to add a subtle sweetness, but you can also dust it on top of the cake or do both!
How To Make This Recipe:
This cake is a breeze to make, coming together quickly and using minimal equipment. To make this cake, sift together the dry ingredients and then add them to whipped eggs, olive oil and sugar. The Greek yogurt whipped topping is optional, but if you indulge in dairy, I highly recommend it! The tartness of the yogurt contrasts nicely with the rich chocolate cake.
- Preheat oven and prepare cake pan: Preheat oven to 325°F. Brush a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.
- Prepare dry ingredients and cocoa powder mixture: In a medium bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking soda and kosher salt. Bring water back to a simmer. Remove from heat and immediately add cocoa powder and cinnamon, stirring until mixture is a smooth paste.
- Whip the eggs, olive oil and sugar: Using a hand mixer and a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine eggs, extra-virgin olive oil, vanilla extract, almond extract and sugar. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until pale yellow and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
- Add cocoa powder and dry ingredients: Add the cocoa powder paste to the egg mixture and beat until incorporated, pausing to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.
- Bake the cake: Scrape batter into prepared cake pan and place on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes away with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Allow the cake to cool completely. Once cooled, carefully run a butter knife around the edges of the cake. Gently flip the cake out of the pan and onto a large plate. Carefully remove the parchment round from the top of the cake.
- Make Greek yogurt whip and assemble cake: Combine heavy cream, plain Greek yogurt and powdered sugar. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
- Serve: Slice the cake, then serve with a dollop the Greek yogurt whip. Alternatively, dust with cocoa powder and serve with fresh berries.
Benefits of Baking with Olive Oil
Using olive oil in baked goods results in a crumb that is more tender and moist than baked goods made with butter. Why, you might ask? Oil is lighter than butter and it stays liquid at room temperature whereas butter solidifies resulting in a firmer cake.
Since chocolate can be a drying ingredient in baked goods, the added moisture from the oil improves the texture substantially. Cakes made with oil instead of butter tend to stay fresher after baking—but you might not have any leftovers of this cake to test that theory.
Not all olive oil is created equal! In this recipe I recommend using a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil with fruity notes, such as our Arbequina California Olive Oil. Stay away from olive oils that have grassy or sharp-tasting notes for this cake, as that will conflict with the chocolate flavors.
The same goes for baking in general: You should source a smoother olive oil so it doesn't compete with the flavor. This is particularly true with chocolate, as with our chocolate olive oil mousse.
Ways to Dress Up Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
This cake is indulgent enough to serve as the dessert course of a holiday meal, but simple enough to make for a weeknight pick-me-up. I make the Greek yogurt whip to go on top but you can dress it up or down however you see fit!
While the Greek yogurt whip provides a lovely and simple contrast to the deep chocolate flavors of the cake, you could gild the lily by:
- Piling berries on top of the whip
- If you’re a die-hard chocolate lover, use a vegetable peeler to shave some chocolate pieces over the whip.
- For a birthday-themed cake, scatter sprinkles over the top or freshen it up with some loosely torn mint leaves.
- Add cinnamon, orange zest or cardamom to the yogurt whip to make it make it extra special.
Think of this cake as the little black dress of your dessert repertoire—it goes with everything!
What To Serve with This Recipe
Serve this cake after dinner with a warming cup of coffee or tea, or liven up the end of the night with a cocktail accompaniment.
More Delicious Cake Recipes
Try our Arbequina
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A mild intensity EVOO that boasts flavor notes of tropical fruits and ripe bananas. The perfect choice for baking!
Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
For the Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
- 1 ¼ cup (167g) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (106ml) water
- ½ cup (42g) natural cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 large eggs
- ¾ cup (193ml) extra-virgin olive oil, we used Arbequina-California Olive Oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup (200g) organic cane sugar
- Fresh berries, to serve (optional)
For the Greek Yogurt Whip
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
Make the cake:
- Preheat the oven and prepare the cake pan: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Brush a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil and line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Sift flour, baking soda and salt: In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt.
- Combine, hot water, chocolate and cinnamon: In a small pot, add ½ cup + 2 tablespoons of water and bring to a simmer. Remove pot from heat. Whisk in cocoa powder and cinnamon until smooth.
- Beat eggs, oil, extracts and sugar: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat together eggs, olive oil, extracts and sugar on medium-high speed until pale yellow and ribbon-y, about 4 minutes.
- Combine cocoa powder and egg mixtures: Add cocoa powder mixture to egg mixture and beat on medium-low speed until just incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated.
- Bake: Pour cake batter into the prepared pan and place on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes. The cake is done when a tester inserted in the center comes away with only a few damp crumbs clinging to it.
- Cool and Unmold the cake: Allow the cake to cool for at least 1 hour on a wire rack. Run a butter knife around the edge of the cooled cake and gently invert onto a plate. Carefully peel parchment paper off the top.
For the Greek yogurt whip:
- Whip the heavy cream: Using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, Greek yogurt and powdered sugar on medium to medium high until soft peaks form.
- Serve: Slice the cake and serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt whip and some fresh berries. Serve immediately!