Last Updated on January 30, 2022 by Chenée Lewis
This dark chocolate olive oil cake recipe with lemon zest and crystallized ginger is such an amazing dessert! The cake is so moist and tender, with deep chocolate flavor and a bright complexity from the ginger and lemon. You’ll love it! And if you want more chocolate, try my Mini Chocolate Cake, my Chocolate Orange Cake, or my Brownie Mix Cookies with White Chocolate, Cherries and Pistachios!
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Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake Recipe
This cake is a stunner! I've made a few olive oil cakes here on the blog that I've loved -- this orange rosemary olive oil cake is so bright and balanced, and this vegan lemon-pistachio olive oil cake is a delicious, nutty treat! But this chocolate olive oil cake is in a class unto itself. It's got a rich chocolate flavor with a crumb that is super moist and dense, yet soft and tender. And my favorite part: the bursts of flavor from the crystallized ginger dotted throughout the cake! The flavors of the ginger and chocolate work so well together, and the slight chewy crunch of each gingery piece is like a party in your mouth!
What does olive oil do to a cake?
Olive oil makes cakes so delicious! It's definitely a different flavor than butter, but so good. Depending on the richness of the flavor of the olive oil that you use, it can add a bright, fruity, slightly savory flavor to your cake that works really well with citrus flavors, herbs, or with the rich chocolate flavor in this chocolate olive oil cake! Olive oil also contributes to a moister, lighter texture! Because olive oil is a liquid at room temperature and contains no water, this cake has a rich, velvety texture won't dry out as quickly as a cake made with butter.
Olive oil also provides a great source of polyphenols, an antioxidant that has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cancer. Baking with olive oil is also great for limiting saturated fat and and getting in healthy monounsaturated fats. So this chocolate olive oil cake is a treat you can feel a little bit better about!
What is olive oil cake made of?
- granulated sugar - you won't need too much sugar for this recipe -- this olive oil cake isn't too sweet, and the brightness of the olive oil, gingers, and lemon zest balance it perfectly.
- lemon zest - the lemon zest helps to bring out the brightness of the ginger in this velvety cake -- it might seem odd to include lemon zest in a chocolate cake, but I love the flavor contrast!
- all-purpose flour - make sure that your flour is measured by weight with a kitchen scale (you'll need 128 grams of flour) or using the spoon-and-level method.
- baking powder - gives this cake a nice lift!
- unsweetened cocoa powder - measure cocoa powder the same way you measure your flour to make sure it's accurate.
- ground ginger - This is optional, but to bump up the ginger flavor in the cake, I added a bit of ground ginger. I love the extra spice it adds to the chocolate flavor!
- salt - we'll definitely need a bit of salt to bring out the gingery and cocoa flavors in this olive oil cake!
- crystallized ginger - my favorite part! Using crystallized (or candied) ginger in this chocolate olive oil cake gives each bite a bright burst of ginger flavor. You'll just chop them and toss them in with your dry ingredients.
- eggs - make sure your eggs are room temperature before adding them to the recipe, to make sure your cake has the best texture and most even bake.
- vanilla extract - your best bet for this olive oil cake is a good-quality pure vanilla extract. Or better yet, check out my post on how to make vanilla extract at home with just 2 ingredients!
- extra-virgin olive oil - this is the star of this recipe! Use a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil with a bold, fruity flavor. I would recommend opting for a cold-pressed variety, and organic if possible. The olive oil I used for this cake is La Tourangelle Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil.
- whole milk - you can definitely swap in a nondairy milk or another variety of dairy milk that you like. Adjust it to your preference!
- boiling water - this helps to "bloom" the cocoa powder and bring out the chocolate flavor so much!
- powdered sugar - totally optional, but you can dust some powdered sugar on top of your cooled cake. You can also top your cake with more chopped crystallized ginger, shaved chocolate, cocoa powder, or brush it with more olive oil!
Can I make this chocolate olive oil cake vegan?
Can I make this chocolate olive oil cake gluten free?
You sure can! Just substitute a 1-to-1 gluten-free flour blend that contains xanthan gum for the all-purpose flour called for in the recipe!
Tips and F.A.Q.
Not at all! The olive oil in the batter will definitely add a slight olive oil flavor that adds to the complexity of the flavors in this cake, but it's in no way overpowering! And it contributes to a lovely contrast of rich velvety chocolate and bright, peppery, gingery flavors that makes this cake so good!
It depends -- olive oil isn't any lower in fat or calories than butter, so it won't necessarily help if you're calorie-conscious. On the other hand, extra-virgin olive oil does have several health benefits, including lowering inflammation, reducing heart disease risk, and promoting healthier blood sugar. So while I'm not a nutrition expert and I can't say that olive oil cakes are good for you, they may be a slightly smarter choice than cakes made with butter.
Olive oil flavor can vary depending on the age, grade, and olive variety of the oil. In general, most high-quality extra-virgin olive oil has a slightly peppery, fruity, and nutty flavor. If you have a favorite extra-virgin olive oil that you love to use for cooking, chances are it will work well in this cake! I used La Tourangelle Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, which I loved in this recipe.
Absolutely! Any chocolate cake recipe that calls for vegetable oil would work with olive oil -- just keep in mind that it might impart a slight olive oil flavor, depending on the type of olive oil you use.
This cake can keep at room temperature, covered, for up to four days. And thanks to the olive oil in the batter, it will stay nice and moist that whole time!
Yes! Just wrap it well with plastic wrap and then with heavy-duty aluminum foil, and it can be frozen for up to three months.
If you try this recipe, I would love it if you could leave a rating and comment below! It’s so wonderful hearing your feedback! And don’t forget to share your creations with me by tagging @chenee_today on Instagram!
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Equipment you may need
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoon crystallized ginger - finely chopped
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup whole milk - feel free to substitute another type of dairy milk or plant-based milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup boiling water
- powdered sugar - (optional) for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8- or 9-inch cake pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper.
- Combine sugar and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Mix with a rubber spatula, pressing to bring out the lemon oils.1 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Add flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, ginger, and salt, whisking after each addition.1¼ cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon salt
- Stir in chopped ginger to coat with dry ingredients.3 tablespoon crystallized ginger
- Add olive oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla extract, whisking gently between each addition.¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 3 large eggs, ½ cup whole milk, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pour in boiling water and fold to combine completely. Batter will be very liquidy.½ cup boiling water
- Pour batter into your prepared cake pan and bake in preheated oven for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (see note)
- Let cake cool 20 minutes in pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust cooled cake with powdered sugar, if desired.powdered sugar
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