Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

By July 12, 2018May 3rd, 2024Recipes

This post was originally published by Rural Intelligence here

This Chocolate Olive Oil cake is a staple in our community cooking classes for three reasons:  

1. It comes together very quickly with a modest ingredient list.

2. It allows us to teach about baking with olive oil, a healthier fat alternative to butter.

3. It is absolutely divine.

When we first introduce it, especially to teens, the idea of olive oil in a sweet treat does not sound like it is worth the time. The skepticism, or intrigue depending on the audience, rises further when you learn it calls for vinegar. In this case, the vinegar is not there for flavor, but to react with the baking soda so that the cake has a gentle lift. Since there are no eggs to act as a leavener, we need the vinegar. Using cider vinegar may lend a slightly sweeter cake, but for us it’s flavor is completely unnoticed.

When you eat a slice, you’ll find it is incredibly moist and dangerously decadent, giving way to that kind of content only a perfect chocolate cake can bring about. The base is dairy free and if using dairy free chocolate chips, the glaze can be too. We’ve made it with and without the glaze and can honestly say it is perfect both ways. Worthy for a celebration and humble enough to make on any old day, keep this recipe for those inevitable times you feel a chocolate craving coming on.

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 8-12

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, any variety, sifted if lumpy
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups water or coffee
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or white vinegar

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (for shine)
A pinch or two of flaky sea salt



  1. Make cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of 9-inch round cake pan with a fitted round of parchment paper and coat the bottoms and sides with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add brown sugar and olive oil, and whisk to combine. Add water and vinegar and whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is springy and a tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few sticky crumbs (but not wet or loose batter).
  4. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then cut around it with a knife to ensure it is loosened and flip it out onto a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.
  5. Make glaze: Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, olive oil, corn syrup, and salt in a medium bowl and microwave to melt, in 15 to 30 second increments, stirring between each until just melted. Whisk until smooth. Pour over completely cooled cake and use spatula to gently nudge it down the sides.