Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

This olive oil cake is the perfect treat for dark chocolate lovers. It's not too sweet, deeply chocolatey, and delicious with a dollop of cardamom cream.

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

We sold our house yesterday. In case you haven’t heard, Jack and I are moving(!?), and lately I’ve been feeling a really mixed bag of emotions about it. We left Austin a few weeks ago and are spending the summer temporarily in Chicago (living with my parents – so glamorous!) until we find a new place to call home. We’re excited for a new adventure, but of course, it’s always sad leaving homes and friends (and kitchens! aahh, what am I doing!) behind. Don’t worry, the blog isn’t going anywhere – I have tons of new recipes and other special projects in the works. I’ve been cooking up a storm here in my mom’s kitchen, which is especially helpful because she washes all the dishes in my wake :). Hi, my name is Jeanine and I’m 38 going on 12.

So… umm… it’s cake time! I’m not sure it’s celebration cake or sadness cake, but either way – it’s cake! I’m not always big on desserts, but sometimes I just need some “it’s-all-going-to-be-ok” chocolate cake.

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

This recipe comes from the new book Simple Fare: Spring/Summer by Karen Mordechai of Sunday Suppers, whom I’ve been a fan of for years. Karen describes this cake as “a balance of sweet and savory.” I have to say – this one is for all of you dark chocolate lovers out there. It’s not overly sweet, but it’s deeply chocolate-y. The olive oil gives it a rich flavor but the cake itself is surprisingly light. She tops it with cardamom whipped cream (the recipe is below), but I used some whipped coconut cream that I had on hand instead.

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

The book is a gorgeous oversized cookbook that feels like an art book. The book is aptly titled “Spring/Summer” as the recipes are highly seasonal (a Fall/Winter volume is coming later). At first glance, the recipes seem very simple (hence the name of the book!) but dig in and you’ll see that each recipe includes 2 or 3 clever “market variations” where Karen suggests altering just a few ingredients to change the recipe’s flavor profile. The book isn’t vegetarian, but there are a lot of vegetable-based recipes (not so many vegan ones), and overall tons of inspiration. I love the way Karen describes her collection of recipes: “food as it should be: nuanced, bright and gorgeous.”

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

I can hardly wait to have a coffee table again so I can display this beauty 🙂

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

This olive oil cake recipe isn’t vegan, but if you’re looking for a good vegan chocolate cake recipe, try this traditional one or this chocolate zucchini cake.

4.9 from 31 reviews

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake From Simple Fare: Spring and Summer by Karen Mordechai. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
  • ¾ cup (180ml) extra-virgin olive oil, more for greasing the pan
  • ½ cup (70g) good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup (120ml) boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cups (165g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (195g) super fine sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Cyprus flake salt (or flaky sea salt)
For the cardamom cream:
  • ½ cup (120ml) heavy cream (I used whipped coconut cream)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
For serving:
  • 1 teaspoon dried rose petals (I skipped)
  • ½ cup (65 g) chopped unsalted pistachios
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease a 9-inch (23-cm) springform baking pan with a little olive oil and line the base with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the cocoa into a medium bowl and whisk in the boiling water until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla, then set aside to cool slightly. In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar, olive oil, and eggs until you have a light, fluffy cream, about 3 minutes.
  4. Turn the speed on the mixer down and pour in the cocoa and vanilla mixture. Slowly add the our mixture until it is evenly incorporated, stopping the mixer and scraping down the bowl as necessary.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with flaky salt. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sides are set and the top of the cake still looks slightly moist. A cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean or with just a few crumbs on it. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  6. While the cake is baking, in a chilled metal or glass bowl using a hand mixer, beat the cream on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes. Add the cardamom and beat until stiff peaks form, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and release the sides of the pan. Transfer the cake to a serving plate or cake stand. Sprinkle with more flaky salt. Serve each slice with a dollop of the cardamom cream and a sprinkling of rose petals, pistachios, and flaky salt.
Market Variations: replace the cardamom cream, rose petals and pistachios with:
Variation 1: macadamia / violet / creme fraich
Variation 2: hazelnut / hibiscus / mascarpone



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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. N. Neal

    Delicious! Was told it was a European 5 star restaurant dessert. Had to use 8.5 in pan so cooked longer but even with 9 in pan I think it would need more than 30 min. I used vanilla bean paste vs extract & dark chocolate cocoa powder. Used cardamom cream but added a very small amount of sugar. Rave reviews from family.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad it was a hit!

  2. Yvonne

    Hi! Can you make this cake into a layer cake or is it not steady enough? Thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Yvonne, I haven’t tried, I think it might be fine? It might be a little dense for it.

  3. Kristan

    I’ve made lots of olive oil cakes over the last few years and this one was voted the best by my family. The cake is light, wonderfully flavorful and looks like perfection. I made the coconut cream with it and it was it was also great. Very easy to put together but mine took about 40 minutes to cook all the way through.

  4. Emily

    Hi, I am
    Wondering if you can use a
    Hand held electric mixer with beaters instead of a standing mixer?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Emily, yep, that should be just fine.

  5. tony

    hello,can i use dark cocoa powder ,or half and half.

  6. Sam

    This looks delicious! I’m hoping to make this weekend, but what is super fine sugar exactly? Is that powdered sugar?

  7. Ally Berlin

    Hi! Can I use ground flaxseed or applesauce as a substitute for eggs?

    • Ally Berlin

      Never mind! 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Ally, I haven’t tried it with this recipe, so I’m not sure.

  8. Petra

    Hi! Did you add cardamom to your coconut cream recipe, or is that just when using the heavy cream?

  9. Ilene

    Hi. Want to try this recipe but do not own a stand mixer. What are your suggestions? Thanks- looks delicious!

    • Vanessa

      I mixed it with a good ole’ fashioned whisk and a lot of elbow grease for the 3 min the recipe recommends, mine came out fine. It’s more work, but it can be done!

  10. Angela

    This cake is wonderful. I haven’t made an olive oil cake before, and this felt like a safe one to try for a first attempt. It came out beautifully. I like the touch of cardamom cream (rather than our standard vanilla), though I did add a bit of sugar.

    • Vanessa

      Oh my, this is absolutely delightful. Perfect for when you have a craving for not too sweet chocolate cake at 8 pm. BTW, I didn’t use a stand mixer because I didn’t want to wake the baby, it was an arm workout, but worth it for this cake! Mine took almost twice as long to bake….about 50 min, bit it came out perfectly moist and tender inside with a crispy, flaky exterior. I dusted it with cocoa powder and served with a little ginger spread. So, so good!

    • Janet

      How much sugar did you add?

  11. Marisa

    Love love love this cake!!! A definite keeper! Thanks!!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Marissa, I’m so glad you loved it!

  12. Niomi

    This was delicious only change I made to the cake itself was to add a handful of semi sweet chocolate chips to the cocoa powder and boiling water bc I had some to burn. I wanted icing so I made a peanut butter cream cheese icing. I also had a bit of mango/strawberry jam to kill so I sliced the cake in half and slathered the jam in the middle prior to icing it. Rave reviews thank you for the lovely recipe.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Ooh, that sounds so delicious. I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  13. Marina

    Great recipe, great taste and texture inspite the use of olive oil. Loved it. Greatings from belgium, antwerp.

  14. Lily

    Would I do the standard high altitude adjustments for this cake at 5300 ft above sea level? Or do you have any other recommendations for high altitude?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Lily, I’ve never baked at high altitude, so I’m sorry I don’t have any suggestions.

  15. Zara

    This cake is beautiful! I used coconut sugar that I blended up superfine, and whole spelt flour instead of all-purpose! Baked for 60 minutes in a 9 inch pan – perfection. Best chocolate cake I’ve ever made. THANK YOU 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Zara – I’m so glad you loved it!!

  16. Tish

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I’ve always wanted to make an olive oil cake and am glad this turned out so well!

    I followed the recipe for the chocolate cake exactly except for the following:
    * used 110ml hot coffee instead of 120ml hot water (since I’m in a humid climate and I’ve found coffee enhances the choc flavour)
    * used slightly less than 1 tbsp vanilla
    * used 155g sugar instead of 195g
    * baked at 160˚C in a convection oven instead of 165˚C, and baked for about 25 mins.
    * omitted the salt on top

    Turned out delicious and moist in the centre, but slightly too salty for us so I’ll reduce the salt and increase the sugar to about 165g. Most American cake recipes use double the amount of sugar that my family likes so I’m glad this recipe actually came pretty close. I think it could also use a bit more oil so I’ll increase that very slightly.

    I made it in an 8-inch cake pan but I prefer my cakes even taller so will 1.5x the recipe next time.

  17. Lindsey

    Such a gorgeous looking recipe, followed to the T and ended up needing to back twice as long (tooth pick came out with wet batter at 50 min) and now that it’s out the center has sunk like a crater! Any ideas what went wrong? Compared to other olive oil cake recipes this one called for far less flour which I found interesting…

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hmm, oh no, I’m not sure! I made it exactly as written… with all of the eggs in the recipe, mine rose perfectly. (If anything, I thought it could have used a minute less in the oven). I’m sorry, I don’t know what could have gone wrong to be raw at 50 minutes!

    • Allison

      I experienced the exact same thing, when I made this recipe last night. So I served it as lava cake, instead.

      I’ve found the wet center syndrome happens most when I use older flour. But also, I used regular sugar instead of the ultra fine sugar this recipe called for.

      • Janet

        I think to make regular sugar ultra fine you can just put it in a small food processor and grind it up.

    • Michael Chang

      Keep in mind that altitude can greatly affect baking time and ingredient proportions.

  18. laila

    Can you substitute the eggs for a vegan alternative?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m not sure subbing eggs would work well in this one since there are so many eggs.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.