Are you searching for the perfect simple & easy dark chocolate cake? Look no further. Midnight Chocolate Olive Oil Cake is here to steal the show. This isn’t your typical chocolate cake. It is the softest, richest dessert in the simplest way!
The Secret Ingredient: Black Cocoa Powder
Ever wondered what would make the darkest, most decadent cake? Well, let me introduce you to Black cocoa. With it’s midnight-black hue and a flavor that’s strikingly reminiscent of Oreo cookies, it is a highly alkalized cocoa powder. It’s the secret ingredient that gives this Midnight Chocolate Olive Oil Cake its deep, rich color and a hint of mystery. When it comes to indulgence, adding black cocoa takes the cake, literally!
Balancing Cocoa Flavors
Though you can swap it out equally with no adjustments to the recipe, I prefer a 50/50 blend, it produces a cake that perfectly balances the bittersweet notes of black cocoa and the familiar, comforting taste of Dutch cocoa. Dutch cocoa is lighter in color and has a milder flavor because it’s been treated with alkali, while natural cocoa has a slightly acidic, fruity kick. So, when you’re looking to add some chocolatey drama to your olive oil cake, reach for a combination of these two alkalized cocoas.
Feeling adventurous? Use all black cocoa for a breathtakingly beautiful cake unlike any other without using a food coloring.
Olive Oil’s Time to Shine
While most cakes rely on butter, olive oil shows us it’s hidden versatility that takes butter’s place. Adding a velvety texture, making the cake so tender that it is almost creamy. I never would’ve imagined that such an easy change could make a big impact in the transformation of a humble single layer cake.
The combination of chocolate and olive oil creates a balance of bittersweet and richness. It’s not overly sweet, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer their desserts not be too sugary. Now that we’ve explained the idea of baking sweets with olive oil and what the cocoa powders are, let’s talk about how to bring this cake to life in your own kitchen!
What You’ll Need:
Cocoa Powders- Here is where the magic happens. Black cocoa is known for its intense, bittersweet, and almost “Oreo-like”. It provides a deep, rich chocolate taste that can be somewhat overpowering on its own. By blending it with Dutch cocoa, which is a milder, you can create a more balanced chocolate flavor and that dark “midnight” color.
Instant Coffee or Espresso- (optional) Coffee pairs well with chocolate due to their complementary flavors. The rich notes of coffee enhance the bittersweet taste of chocolate.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil- This is important. Olive oil isn’t all created equally. I encourage you to do some research and use a good oil that is real. There is a lot of fake oils out there, and in my personal experience some store brands add coloring to make it look green. Not what you want to use in this cake at all. I will link the brand I have used to create my olive oil cake recipes. It’s affordable and it seems to be a decent quality for the price.
Baking Powder- We only use baking powder here. No baking soda because both cocoa powders are alkalized and do not have the acidity level to activate it.
Various Sugars- I use brown sugar in the cake batter because it contains more moisture than granulated sugar due to its molasses content. This extra moisture helps keep the cake moist and tender, preventing it from becoming dry or crumbly. Coconut sugar can also be swapped in an equal 1-1! White sugar can be used as a “crust” by sprinkling it on the batter just before baking. See below for toppings.
Note: Making your own brown sugar is easy! Check out how here.
Large Eggs- room temperature.
Whole Milk- room temperature.
Instant Coffee- (optional) Coffee enhances the depth of flavor in chocolate cake.
Digital Gram Scale- (optional) I highly recommend weighing your ingredients when baking. Volume measurements can vary quite a bit, changing your end result. Inaccurate amounts can throw the ratio of dry vs. wet ingredients off, creating a batter that is too wet or too dry. Definitely not a necessity, but very helpful. It also uses less dishes. Win, win. (METRIC measurements are provided in the recipe card below.)
Digital Thermometer- (optional) Cooked internal temperature is 200 F.
Stand Mixer- You can also make this with a hand mixer, but using one of them is highly recommended because the mixing continues while the oil is drizzled in.
Round Baking Pan- I use a 9-inch round cake pan with 2″ sides. You can also use a 9″ springform pan.
Baker’s Joy- Use a non-stick spray that has flour such as baker’s joy. Pam also has a spray with flour for baking. You can also grease your pan with shortening or unsalted butter and dust with flour or more cocoa powder to prevent sticking.
Parchment Paper- This is added insurance to make sure the cake releases out of the pan. Since the batter can be quite liquidy, the parchment paper is useful.
Large Baking Tray- (optional) To prevent possible spills in the oven.
Cooling Rack- (optional)
Sweet Whipped Cream- (optional) See recipe card below.
Heavy Whipping Cream & Chocolate Chips- (optional) for making an Easy Chocolate Ganache Sauce. See the recipe card below.
When it comes to baking a cake without a digital gram scale, follow these simple tips for measuring by volume:
For dry ingredients like flour, cocoa powder, and sugar, use a set of dry measuring cups. To measure, lightly fluff the ingredient with a spoon to aerate it, then gently spoon the ingredient into the measuring cup, allowing it to overflow slightly. Use a straight-edged utensil to level off the excess, ensuring a more accurate measurement.
For wet ingredients like milk, oil, and vanilla extract, use liquid measuring cups. Fill the cup to the measurement line while keeping it level on a flat surface. The clear liquid measuring cup allows you to clearly see how much liquid you have.
Following these techniques for measuring dry and wet ingredients by volume ensures your cake recipe’s success, as baking is a science, and precision matters!
Dressing it up!
I haven’t had much success making “pretty” layered cakes so I have embraced other types of cakes that are easy enough to make but still offer with versatility with their minimalism. This cake can stand on its own or be dressed up with a variety of toppings such as fresh berries, a dusting of powdered sugar, or a dollop of whipped cream. The beauty here lies in it’s simplicity and versatility. Here are some of my favorite ways to dress it up:
Fresh Berries: Top with fresh berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries. Their natural sweetness and vibrant colors will complement this deep chocolate cake beautifully.
Fruit Compote: Keeping the theme of fresh fruit. Prepare a simple fruit compote using seasonal fruits like peaches, apricots, or cherries. Spoon it over individual cake slices for a burst of fruity goodness.
Sweet Whipped Cream: Serve a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream. See the recipe card below.
Easy Chocolate Ganache Sauce: Make a quick fudgy sauce to drizzle over your cake.
Toasted Nuts: Sprinkle toasted nuts like slivered almonds, chopped pistachios, pecans, or walnuts.
Powdered Sugar: Dust the cake with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar for an elegant touch. You can even use a stencil to create decorative patterns. If you are looking for an unrefined sugar substitute, you can make your own with coconut sugar!
Ice Cream: Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
So, you’ve got this fabulous olive oil cake, and you want it to stay fresh and delicious, right? Well, here’s how… olive oil cakes are pretty easy when it comes to storage. Pop it into an airtight container and keep at room temperature for up to 2-3 days, and it’ll still taste awesome. If you want to keep it longer (which I totally get because it’s so good), freeze it for up to 2-3 months. Just be sure to let it cool completely before freezing. And when you’re ready to dig in again, thaw it at room temperature for a few hours. Voila! Your olive oil cake will be good to go for another round of yumminess!
How to release the cake
- After the cake has cooled for about 20 minutes, grab an extra pan, plate or cake dish. Take a pot holder or two as needed and carefully slide a butter knife around the edge of the cake to release the sides.
2. Place the bottom of the extra cake pan, plate, or cake dish on top of the cake. Flip them both over (the cake will then be flipped upside down.)
3. The cake should release easily as you pull the pan away. The parchment paper will be left behind.
4. Peel off the parchment paper.
5. Place the cooling rack, or any dish you want to rest your cake on and place it on the bottom of the cake.
6. Flip the cake back over so it is right side up.
Love chocolate? Check out my other dessert recipes?
If you try this Midnight Chocolate Olive Oil Cake or any of my other recipes tag me on Instagram @joymakersandco, I’d love to see what you make!
Midnight Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
- 1 9" Round Cake Pan or Springform Pan with a baking tray underneath
- Baker's Joy or Pam Spray with flour
- Large Sieve, for sifting the dry ingredients
- Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer
- Digital Gram Scale optional
- Digital Thermometer optional
- Medium Mixing Bowl
- 1 Large Baking Tray, for preventing spills, optional.
Midnight Chocolate Olive Oil Cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup black cocoa, SEE NOTES BELOW
- 1/4 cup Dutch cocoa, SEE NOTES BELOW
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso, optional
- 1-1/2 cups light or dark brown sugar, packed
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or paste
- 2-3 tablespoons white sugar
Sweet Whipped Cream:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, or coconut powdered sugar (SEE ARTICLE ABOVE)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or vanilla paste
- Carefully measure and sift together the flour, cocoa powders, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with the sieve into a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the instant coffee (optional) and set aside. (SEE BELOW for how to measure)Measure out the milk (in either a small bowl or a small measuring jug), if it is cold from the fridge, microwave it for about 20-25 seconds to get the chill off. Add the vanilla extract or paste to the milk and set aside.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 F (if using a dark coated non-stick pan, lower the temperature to 325 F and adjust the baking time as needed). Grease a 9" round cake pan (you can also use a 9" springform pan and a baking sheet underneath) with a non-stick spray with flour. If you do not have this type of spray, then butter your pan well and dust it with flour or cocoa powder to prevent sticking. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Set the prepared pan aside.
- Mix the eggs and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until light and well incorporated, about 1-2 minutes.
- Switch the mixer down to low (2 on a Kitchen-Aid) and pour the olive oil in a steady stream. Do this gradually, allowing the oil to fully incorporate into the mixture. This will take a few minutes as it mixes in and slowly emulsifies.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the milk and vanilla extract.
- Add the dry ingredients, mix on low only until you can't see anymore flour.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of white sugar for a sweet crust topping or leave plain for a dusting of powdered sugar when serving.
- Bake on the middle rack for 60 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes, the cooked internal temperature is 210 F or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. (Ovens vary, use foil as needed)
- Let the cooked cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Loosen the sides with a butter knife and release the cake by inverting onto a plate or other pan (see photos above). Continue to cool completely before decorating, serving, and garnishing. Storage tips are provided in the notes below.
Sweet Whipped Cream:
- Place the cold whipped cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract into a medium mixing bowl.
- Whisk by hand or use an electric mixer until light and fluffy. When it stiffens and holds it's shape, stop whipping.
- Refrigerate for up to one week.