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 51 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 flour 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. Ken W

    As a substitute for “flourless” chocolate cake, I was skeptical, but this cake gets it done with a much healthier ingredient profile. It is simple to make and rather plain alone, so benefits greatly by add-ins and add-ons.
    1) Standard 9″ baking pan works fine, floured on sides and parchment round on bottom.. Hand-held mixer works fine.
    2) Add a good handful of dark chocolate chips to the batter, chopped to random size. Can layer in or mix evenly.
    3) Take out of oven when middle is still slightly gooey. Outer circumference will be caky, and inner will be soft. I liked the variation in texture.
    4) Add sprinkling of powdered sugar over top of finished cake for presentation.
    5) Really benefits from FLAVORED whipped cream to liven it up. Doubled recipe to: 1 c heavy cream (dairy), 2 TBS powdered sugar. 1/2 Tsp hand ground cardamom (10 pods, green) yielded a subtle background flavor.
    6. Serve with raspberries on the side (any berry, fresh or frozen would be good).
    Guests each had 2 servings AFTER a full dinner, so yeah, this recipe is a keeper !

  2. Rachel

    Can I make this gluten-free by using almond flour instead?

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Emily, we haven’t tried this, so I’m not sure.

  3. Cath

    This was good but not great. I found the chocolate flavor wasn’t as intense as I’d hoped. It’s a basic cake for daily eating in my opinion (nothing wrong with that) not a fancy cake for company. I was looking for a basic cake so that was fine, but it needs a little something extra. If I make it again, I would add some spice (maybe cinnamon + nutmeg + a bit of chili) or some chocolate chunks / nuts into the dough for texture. It does stay nice and moist due to the olive oil. I didn’t make the cream because I don’t like cardamon – maybe the cream was the “extra” thing needed to enhance this cake.

    I found the baking time was spot on at 35 min. @325F. Didn’t need to adjust that at all.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Cath, those spices would be a great addition to this recipe!

  4. Alex

    So every time I try this recipe, it has to be longer and at a higher temp for it to be done. I just figured you should know, though it might be the fault of our mischievous oven.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Great to know! Thanks!

  5. Alex

    Could I exchange the superfine sugar for confectioner’s sugar? Or granulated?
    When I googled it the results were unclear, so I wanted to ask the recipe’s creators.

  6. Ellen

    Made this for NYE and everyone loved it. I loved the cardamom cream but next time will add a little sugar.

    I wish the recipe had indicated that the chocolate mixture is really thick; I had expected it to be creamier, and I was worried that I had done something wrong.

    Might add rum or brandy the next time instead of the vanilla, and also a tablespoon or so of espresso powder, for variety, but the chocolate flavor was intense (which is what I wanted) and the olive oil flavor was not (ditto).

    So: I’ll be making this again! Thank you!!

  7. Lillian

    I’ve baked this cake two Thanksgivings in a row. No modifications but I skipped the cream and other toppings and dusted with powdered sugar.

    Last years came out great and this years in in the oven right now. I don’t remember what I did last year, but today I got totally confused when going from step 3 to 4. Are you using the same large bowl with flour , soda, and salt for beating in the sugar, oil and eggs?

    • Lillian

      Oops. I meant step 2 to 3!

      • Lillian

        I finally figured it out. There’s a typo in step 4. It says our instead of flour.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Lillian, yes, it’s the same large bowl. Fixing that flour typo.

  8. Mahak

    I made the cake yesterday and it turned out really well. I think this is the best cake I have ever made.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  9. Kathy

    Can I fold almonds or chopped walnuts into this batter before baking

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      yep! That would be great.

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.