One of the most enjoyable parts of creating this blog has been spending more time in my home. Before I felt as if I was obligated to leave and interact with the outside world as a means of happiness. But I find that I am most content in my little apartment with my husband. My favorite mornings are ones spent with cups of coffee, classical music, and enjoying the view of the lake from my window.
This is not to say that I don't enjoy any human interactions. I would rather have fewer, but more meaningful, ones. The world itself is constantly so busy and I find myself getting stressed by all of it. I realized, however, that if I make an effort to slow down my day to day activities, the world itself won't seem as chaotic.
As a result of spending more time at home, my itch for creating new recipes has intensified. I buy a new issue of Cook's Illustrated every week and try out multiple recipes from it. I often use food magazines or old cookbooks as inspiration for new recipes. I like to start out with a classic recipe and add a new flavor to it. Lately I have been wanting to experiment with with croissant dough, but this weeks experimental ingredient was olive oil.
Being half Italian, I have always used olive oil for most of my cooking. I rarely buy any other kind of oil unless I need to fry something. I use it when I sear steak or chicken, to drizzle over pasta, and even for my fried or scrabbled eggs in the morning. I try to stick to a ketogenic diet and I often drink a tablespoon or two of straight EVOO.
I was perplexed that I hadn't thought to bake with it! Olive oil has such a rich, buttery, grassy, and harmonious flavor. I also have an intense love for dark chocolate so I thought the two would be a perfect pair. In most recipes you can use olive oil as a substitute for canola, vegetable, or any other oil a recipe may call for. You can even substitute it in place of butter, but this isn't recommended if any creaming of butter and sugar is required.
I kept the recipe simple. You don't need any fancy ingredients, only things you probably already have on hand. Flour, sugar, salt, cocoa powder, instant espresso powder, baking soda + powder, eggs, milk, and of course, olive oil! The instant espresso powder isn't 100% necessary but I highly recommend adding it. You don't taste the espresso but it adds a depth of flavor and compliments the cocoa powder perfectly.
This is a pretty simple recipe and you only need two(!!!) bowls to mix everything. Clean up is quick and easy-- a must for me. I would say that the hardest part is preparing your bundt pan. You can make this cake in one 9 inch cake round but I love the look of the fancy bundt pan and you don't see them being used very often anymore. The best way I have found to ensure that your batter does not stick to the bundt pan is to soften two tablespoons of butter and using a pastry brush, brush it i/on surface and crevice of the pan. Next, take 1/4 cup of flour and swirl it around the bundt pan, covering every bit of it. Dump out the excess flour into the garbage and your bundt pan is prepped! This is all you need to do and if you do it correctly, your batter should not stick! I've been doing it this way forever and have never had any pieces of cake stick to the pan.
Next, the Olive Oil. It is one of my favorite ingredients right now! For this cake you want a good quality olive oil. You don't need to spend $30 on a 12 ounce bottle but make sure it is a good one. Look for one around $10-$12 that is in dark glass bottle. This usually suggests that the bottle is slightly higher quality. I only buy olive oil from Costco now since I use so much of it. You can get a 2 Liter bottle of Organic Olive Oil for $13.99 and it tastes delicious! Again, don't go all out and buy a super nice finishing olive oil, but don't buy a $5 bottle either.
Another ingredient that I don't recommend skimping on is the cocoa powder. I only buy dutch-processed cocoa powder now and I get a large bag from Costco for under $7 and it is such good quality! Dutch-processed (sometimes referred to as "European") cocoa powder is washed with a potassium carbonate solution. This neutralizes the cocoa powder's acidity to a pH of 7, whereas "natural" cocoa powder (commonly used in the U.S.) is much more acidic with a pH level usually of 5 or 6. Dutch-processed cocoa is darker in color and has a more mellow and earthy flavor. I like to think of natural cocoa powder as the milk chocolate version and dutch-processed is the dark chocolate version. I highly suggest purchasing dutch-processed cocoa for a more rich and tasty cake.
To top this cake is a simple dark chocolate ganache. For the chocolate, I recommend buying high quality bars with 50%-70% cocoa content. I recommend buying bars, not chocolate chips, because the chips contain high quantities of stabilizers in them. This is why when you bake chocolate chip cookies, the chocolate chips hold their perfect "tear-drop" shape even after being baked. I have found that using chips results in a stiffer ganache even with a higher amount of heavy cream than I would usually use. I always buy Ghirardelli barred chocolate (the 72% cacao) and roughly chop it with a knife then weigh it on my kitchen scale. I decided to top the cake with some lightly crushed pistachios to add a bit of crunch and color to the cake but feel free to add Maldon salt flakes, sprinkles, or any nut of your choice.
Triple Chocolate Olive Oil Bundt Cake
For the Olive Oil Cake
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 ½ Cups White Granulated Sugar
¾ Cup Dutch-processed Cocoa Powder
¾ Teaspoon Baking Soda
¾ Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 ½ Teaspoons Instant Espresso Powder
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
¾ Cup Dark Chocolate Chips (I use Ghirardelli extra dark chips)
1 ½ Cups high-quality Olive Oil
1 Cup Whole Milk
3 Large Eggs
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
For the Dark Chocolate Ganache
*I highly suggest weighing your ingredients for the ganache*
8 Ounces (1 Cup) Heavy Cream
4 Ounces (½ Cup) Dark Chocolate Bar, roughly chopped (I use a Ghirardelli 72% cacao bar)
¼ Cup slightly crushed pistachios
For the Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350° f. In a small bowl, let two tablespoons of butter come to room temperature or put it in the microwave for 10-12 seconds until softened. Using a pastry brush, brush the insides of your bundt pan, making sure to get every crevice! Alternatively you can use one 9" round cake pan. Now take ¼ cup of flour and pour it into the pan. Work the flour into every crevice and up the sides and inside portion of the bundt pan. You want to make sure the entire surface is covered with butter and flour or else your cake won't come out smoothly.
2. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda & powder, salt. Mix until fully combined. Add in the chocolate chips and mix again.
3. In a separate large bowl, combine the olive oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined.
4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until just combined-- do NOT over-mix! Pour the batter into your prepared bundt pan and place on a large baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. At 35 minutes, insert a toothpick to check the cake's doneness. If it is still runny, bake for another 5 minutes and check again.
5. Carefully transfer the bundt pan to a wire rack and allow to cool down for five minutes. Next, (don't forget oven mitts!) flip the bundt pan over onto the cooling rack. If you prepared your pan correctly it should release with ease and all in one piece! Allow to cool to room temperature while you prepare the ganache.
For the Ganache:
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the heavy cream. Stir frequently until simmering. Make sure not to scorch the cream!
2. In a another bowl, add your roughly chopped dark chocolate.
3. When the cream reaches a simmer, turn off the heat and pour it over the chocolate, making sure to fully cover each bit. Let it rest for 1 minute.
4. Now whisk the chocolate and cream until the mixture comes together. It will take about a minute and will look very runny at first, but keep whisking!
To Assemble the Cake:
Once your cake is completely cooled and your ganache is ready, place the cake on a flat plate or a cake stand. Transfer the ganache to a measuring cup with pour spout. Slowly drizzle the ganache over the cake, using as much or as little as you prefer. Immediately top the cake with the pistachios.
This cake is best served the day it was made but can be kept for 3-4 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.