Olive Oil Chocolate Cake with Salted Tahini Chocolate Frosting

Olive oil chocolate cake with salted tahini chocolate frosting. 

  It’s been two months since I last sat down and wrote out a blog post. I’ve slowly been finding my way out of the dark cave that is known as creativity burnout. It always gets ahold of me for a few weeks in the winter time, but this is the first time it prolonged into months. So, I just took it easy. I stopped trying to think of something to post every week and focused on photographing other things instead of food. Then finally, I had an idea the end of December which, at that time, looked a lot different from this cake- but soon enough turned into it. 

 While my favorite aspect is the salted tahini chocolate frosting, but the cake itself is pretty good as well. It’s rich, moist, and has a strong chocolate flavor thanks to the addition of boiling hot coffee. While I love my butter cakes, a good olive oil cake is difficult to pass up. It gives the entire cake a certain smoothness. For some reason, that smoothness is a bit difficult to describe in words; you just have to taste it to find out what I mean!

Now, back to that frosting for a bit. You might be wondering why there’s maple syrup. I really wanted this thick but smooth, fudge-like consistency to the frosting and maple syrup does the job rather well. Without it, it isn’t as smooth and fudge-like. It also adds more to the sweetness, which is nice because too much powdered sugar can be overpowering in flavor sometimes, especially in chocolate frostings.

Olive Oil Chocolate Cake with Salted Tahini Chocolate Frosting


ingredients:

  cake:

210 grams ( 1. 3/4c) unbleached, all-purpose flour

288 grams (1. 1/2c) raw cane sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

60 grams (3/4c) cocoa powder{dutch-process}

1 cup strong, hot coffee

180 mL (3/4c) olive oil 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3c cashew milk

1 large egg

  frosting:

2/3 cups cocoa powder{dutch-process}

2/3 cups cashew milk

2 tablespoons tahini

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

8-ounces bittersweet chocolate{60% cacao}, melted and cooled

8-ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup, room temperature

1 teaspoon sea salt

method:

  for the olive oil chocolate cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C. Prepare two, 6-inch square cake pans with grease and line the bottom(s)with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift the cocoa powder. Pour the hot coffee into the sifted cocoa and stir until combined. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. After five minutes, add the olive oil, vanilla, and cashew milk to the cocoa mixture and stir until mostly combined. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar; whisk until fully combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, then use an electric hand mixer set to medium speed to mix the ingredients until just combined. Add the egg and beat on medium-high for 20 seconds. The mixture should be smooth with no lumps.
  4. Pour the batter equally amongst the two pans and bake for 40-43 minutes. Check for doneness at 40 minutes; a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. If not, bake for 2-3 more minutes. Remove from oven and let the cakes rest in their pans for 10 minutes, then invert them onto wire racks to cool completely. To avoid a hard top crust on this cake after it cools completely, wrap each cake layer in plastic saran wrap when they’re still just slightly warm and let them sit overnight. The warmth trapped inside will moisten the outside of the cake. 

  for the salted tahini chocolate frosting:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the cashew milk, tahini, and vanilla. Heat over low heat until very hot. Sift the cocoa powder into a small mixing bowl, then pour the hot cashew milk over it. Stir until fully combined(the mixture will be very thick before and after it cools). Cool the mixture until it’s cool to the touch.
  2. Chop the bittersweet chocolate and melt it in a bowl set over a simmering pot of water(don’t let the bowl touch the water). Remove bowl from the heat and let the chocolate cool until it is no longer warm, just don’t let it harden again! 
  3. Once the chocolate(s) have cooled, beat -with an electric hand mixer, the softened butter, powdered sugar, and sea salt until smooth. Add the cocoa powder mixture and beat until combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the bottoms and sides of the bowl, then add the cooled, melted chocolate, beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl once more, then add the maple syrup. Beat the mixture until it’s considerably paler in color and feels light, smooth, and fluffy when you run your finger through it- about 4-5 minutes of beating on high-speed.

  to assemble the cake:

  1. Using a cake leveler(if you don’t have one, use a sharp knife and be very careful!), level off any domes that may have formed on the tops of the cake during baking. Place the first layer on your cake board/stand/plate/ and add about 1 1/2 cups of frosting and spread it around the layer evenly with a frosting spatula. Add the second layer on top of the first, with the bottom facing up. Add the remaining frosting on the top and around the sides of the cake. Decorate with fresh flowers and flaked sea salt if desired.

Chocolate Cake with Plum Basil Jam and Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Chocolate Cake with Plum Basil Jam and Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

   I’ve written many chocolate cake recipes, most of which have made it here on the blog. Every time, one comes out better than the last one. I’m often tempted to go through and change all the previous chocolate cake recipes- especially my very first post(a chocolate cake), but what would be the point in doing that. Honestly, if I knew all that I know now I would’ve never posted that first cake recipe. I was just learning about ratios and recipe writing, so of course, the cake was far from being perfect. I failed so many times on it, but that last try seemed good enough to post. I made it again sometime later and let’s just say it’ll probably go down in history as the dryest chocolate cake ever made. Embarrassing as those first blog posts are, I’m leaving it up as a reminder of where I was when I started this blog, but also a reminder to myself to never again post a recipe I’m not 100% satisfied with. Good things take time, even if weeks go by without a single blog post. I’ve had to learn this lesson the hard way. I was trying to post a new recipe three times a week when I first began my blog. Some can do this, others cannot; I’m definitely the latter.  Not only was I wasting money, I was also wasting all my creative energy. 

  There’s nothing more delicious than a slice of chocolate cake that looks like it’s made entirely of fudge and tastes even better. You know what I’m talking about? Dense, rich, and ultra chocolatey. I’ve yet to accomplish this, but it’s my ultimate goal in baking to make a four-layered cake just like that. It may weigh about ten pounds afterward, but I’m sure it will taste amazing. This chocolate cake is nothing like that of course, but it’s a bit on the heavier side, with a moist, tight crumb and rich chocolatey flavor. Oh, and the plum basil jam! So good with this cake. I went a little overboard with the jam on the first bottom layer(as you can see in some of the photos), so don’t do as I did- you want some of that liquid goodness to soak into the cake, but not too much. Now, onto that chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. It’s my first time using it and I was surprised at how easy it was to make. I will admit, I thought it was a fail at first because I added too soft of butter, so the buttercream just ran off the spatula- not good. But, this problem is easily fixed, so if you happen to have this same problem, pop the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes and then whip the mixture until it’s velvety smooth.


Chocolate Cake with Basil Plum Jam and Swiss Meringue Buttercream

   ingredients for the cake:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour { 240 grams }

2 cups raw cane sugar { 380 grams } 

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cups cocoa powder { 60 grams }

3/4 cups boiling water { 6 oz }

1 cup buttermilk, room temp.  { 8 oz }

3/4 cups unsalted butter, melted { 6 oz }

2 large eggs, room temp.

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    for the swiss meringue buttercream

4-ounces egg whites (3-4 large eggs)

8-ounces raw cane sugar (1 cup)

12-ounces butter, room temp. (1 1/4 cup)

10-ounces fine dark chocolate, melted (80% cocoa)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

   for the plum basil jam:

1 pound red plums (or pluot plums)

1 1/4 cups raw cane sugar

3 medium-sized basil leaves

   Method:

   for the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C. Grease and line with parchment paper two, 6-inch cake pans.
  2. In a bowl, stir together the boiling water and cocoa powder until combined. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Sift the flour into a bowl, then whisk in the sugar, baking powder/soda, and salt- set aside. In another bowl, melt the butter, then stir in the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla until they’re mixed in well. Combine the liquid ingredients to the dry, including the cocoa. Stir with a wooden spoon until just combined and there are no more flour streaks. Pour the mixture into the prepared pans and bake for 35-43 minutes. Check for doneness at 35 minutes. It’s ready when the cake springs back quickly after lightly touching it, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.

  for the jam:

  1. Pit the plums and cut into small chunks. Add to a saucepan with 1/4 cup of the sugar. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the mixture breaks down and most of the liquids have come out of the fruit. Add the basil leaves and remaining sugar and boil on medium-low heat, stirring and mashing the fruit occasionally for 10 minutes.  It will be done when some of the jam is placed on a cool surface and becomes thick as it cools. Drain most the liquid from the jam, leaving just a few tablespoons. Pour the fruit into a rimmed pan and remove the basil. Cool the jam completely before using.

   for the swiss meringue buttercream:

  1. Chop the chocolate and heat in the microwave safe bowl until smooth and melted, set aside to cool.
  2. Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Place a heatproof bowl over the top(do not let it touch the water!); add the egg whites and sugar and whisk to combine. Place a candy thermometer in the mixture and heat, stirring often, until it reads 160°F / 70°C and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer with whisks attached. Beat on medium-high speed for 8-10 minutes until the bowl is cool to touch and the meringue is thick and glossy. Turn the mixer on low and begin to add the cubed butter, one cube at a time, making sure each cube is incorporated before adding the next. This will take a few minutes. The end result should be a thick, velvety smooth buttercream. If your buttercream didn’t whip well and is a bit runny, place the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes until somewhat firm(but not hard). Return to the mixer and beat on low until smooth and thick. Add the vanilla and cooled melted chocolate. Beat on low until combined.

 assemble the cake:

  1. Once the cakes have cooled completely, cut each one into two, even layers, giving you a total of four layers (two bottoms, two tops).  Always start a layer cake with the bottom part of the cake on the bottom, the two tops in the center, and end with the other bottom part of the cake facing up. This ensures your cake is standing upright and the top will be flat and easier to frost.
  2. Spread a bit of frosting in the center of your cake plate/cake stand. Add your bottom layer on top of this spot so it stays in place.  Spread a very thin layer of frosting on the first layer, then pipe a small wall around the edge of the cake (so the jam doesn’t ooze out if it wants to). Spread about 1/3 cup of the jam in the center, then add the second layer. This layer will have only frosting and no jam, so spread about 2/3 cups of frosting on. Place the third layer on top, and repeat step 1: spread a thin layer of frosting, pipe a wall, then slather 1/3 cup of jam in the center. Place the fourth and final layer, flat side facing up, and spread 2/3 cups of frosting on top. Use the remaining frosting on the sides of the cake. Cut and serve.