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.

Vegan Blueberry Chocolate Cashew Mousse with Ganache

Vegan Blueberry Chocolate Cashew Mousse with Ganache

 Chocolate is oftentimes my go-to when I’m short on ideas. A quick scroll through my blog and you’ll notice that it’s the most common ingredient in many of my recipes. But, can one really come up with too many chocolate things? I think not. This will make the third chocolate mousse to appear on my site. One of the goals I had for my blog this year was to be more inclusive in different ways of eating and preparing sweets.

And for those who are vegan (or have an intolerance to lactose), you’ll quickly discover traditional mousse recipes call for a lot of egg and dairy products. Although this is far from your traditional mousse, it’s still deliciously smooth, airy, and chocolatey with fresh, local blueberries speckled about giving a subtle flavor of summer with each bite. It’s then topped with chocolate ganache, made with coconut milk in place of the cream that is initially used. 

In my previous recipe, I would use a combination of egg whites and heavy cream whipped to stiff peaks in order to get a smooth, yet light and airy texture. In place of the egg whites, I used aquafaba. The thick, sticky liquid from cooked legumes such as chickpeas. To make things easier, I simply used a can of organic chickpeas. Just drain the liquid into a bowl and whip like you would egg whites until stiff peaks form.


VEGAN BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE CASHEW MOUSSE WITH GANACHE

    for the mousse:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight in water then drained

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/3 cup organic coconut milk, hot

4 tablespoons coconut palm sugar

2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

6 ounces vegan dark chocolate (80% cacao)

2 tablespoon coconut oil

15-ounce can organic chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained, but liquid reserved

  for the ganache

4-ounces vegan dark chocolate (80% cacao)

5-ounces organic coconut milk (full-fat)

 method

ganache

  1. Chop the 4-ounces of chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium-sized bowl. In a saucepan, heat the coconut milk over medium heat until it begins to simmer; remove from heat and pour the hot milk over the chopped chocolate and give it a slight stir. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then stir until smooth. Use when ready.

mousse

  1. In a bowl, heat the coconut milk until hot. Add the sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla and stir until combined; set aside until ready to use. In a separate bowl, completely melt the chocolate with the coconut oil (this can be done in the microwave).  Place the soaked cashews in a blender with the blueberries, cocoa mixture, and melted chocolate and blend until smooth and creamy; this may take a few minutes depending on your blender. To test if it’s the right consistency, rub some of it between your fingers. If it’s smooth feeling it’s good, but if it feels gritty, blend it a bit more.
  2. Drain the chickpeas in a strainer over a medium sized bowl to catch the liquid. This liquid is known as aquafaba and it’s a great substitute for egg whites. Beat the aquafaba with an electric hand mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  3. With a spatula, carefully fold the beaten aquafaba into the chocolate-cashew mixture until fully combined. Spoon the mousse into small cups(I used small, glass cups that measure to about 1/2 cup) and fill them 3/4 of the way full. 
  4. Gently pour the ganache over the tops of the mousse. Cover each cup and place in the refrigerator until firm. About 2-3 hours. Top with sea salt or fresh blueberries, then serve.

Chocolate Vanilla Sage Mousse Cake with Pistachio and Sea Salt

  Much of February was one of those months for me.  After three weeks of absence, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel when I thought of this chocolate vanilla sage mousse cake with pistachio and sea salt.

  It’s a chapter every creative person faces more often than not: the depletion of their creative energy.  It’s like sitting in a vacuum, where nothing new comes in or comes out, it’s just empty space.  The worst part is feeling as though it will never go back to normal, thankfully it always does-  in its own time.  It is both a blessing and curse, the blessing being time to collect your thoughts, your sense of self, and to better understand your surroundings.  The curse is the depressing thoughts that come with losing one of your outlets of expression.  It’s like suddenly forgetting how to swim while you’re in the deepest part of the ocean.

  The weather as of late has been but an early breath of spring, which is what helped bring a few ideas back to me.  Many trees, shrubs, and flowers began to bloom three weeks in advance due to the warm winter season.  I saw Bradford pear trees with their snow-like petals blowing in the wind, as well as cherry blossoms with their lush pink and red hues.  I envisioned something chocolate being surrounded by all these blossoms, and that’s when this chocolate vanilla sage mousse cake with pistachio and sea salt came to fruition.  It’s nothing too creative, to be honest.  I have a chocolate mousse cake recipe rather similar to this one(also one of my most popular blog posts and recipe on this site).

  By reading the title, you may be wondering, ‘why sage’?  The truth is, my motto is to always add at least one fresh ingredient for the main flavoring agent in my baked goods, it is either a fruit, herb, or a vegetable.  But it must be in season and at least somewhat local, to add to my motto.  The sage was plucked from my sage plant in the front garden, which thrived all throughout this mild winter of ours.  To my surprise, it complemented the chocolate rather well.  It’s all very rich in every possible way, with hints of vanilla bean and sage all throughout the mousse.  The brownie I would liken to fudge; it’s chewy and has a strong chocolate flavor.


CHOCOLATE VANILLA SAGE MOUSSE CAKE WITH PISTACHIO AND SEA SALT

brownie

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

seeds from (2) vanilla beans

1 cup coconut palm sugar

3/4 cups cocoa powder

2 large eggs

1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

mousse

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

7 fresh sage leaves, chopped

seeds from (2) vanilla beans

8-ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 large egg yolks

3/4 cups heavy cream

3 large egg whites

3 tablespoons sugar

roasted pistachio, for garnish

sea salt, for garnish

METHOD:

 brownie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C.  Prepare one, 8-inch cake pan by greasing the side and bottom then lining with parchment paper.
  2. Create a double boiler by filling a medium-sized pot with about two inches of water, then placing a heatproof bowl over the pot, making sure that it doesn’t touch the water.  Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Add to the bowl the butter, vanilla bean seeds, coconut sugar, and cocoa powder.  Stir occasionally with a spatula until the butter has melted completely and the sugar has somewhat dissolved as well.  Remove from heat and let the mixture sit until slightly cooled- it should remain very warm, but not burning hot.  You should be able to dip your finger in for five seconds without it burning you.  Once it reaches this stage, add one egg and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined; repeat with the second egg.  Add the flour and salt and stir until just combined and there are no flour streaks to be seen.  Pour the chocolate into the prepared pan and spread around evenly.  Bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let it rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges with a sharp knife and invert onto a wire rack(keeping the parchment on the bottom)to cool completely.   Tip: to speed up the cooling process place the brownie in the freezer until cool.

  mousse:

  1. Place a medium sized bowl in the refrigerator to chill, along with the whisk attachment to an electric hand mixer.
  2. In a small saucepan, add the butter, chopped sage leaves, and vanilla bean seeds.  Cook on medium-low until the butter is melted and the sage becomes fragrant- about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, then remove the sage pieces.  Place the butter in the refrigerator until firm again.
  3.  Create a double boiler and add the butter and chopped chocolate.  Stir occasionally until the ingredients are melted completely.  Then remove from heat.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites in a medium bowl on high with an electric mixer.  When they begin to gain volume, sprinkle in the three tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.
  5. Pour the cream into the chilled bowl and beat with the chilled whisk(s) until soft peaks form.
  6. After all this, the chocolate mixture should be warm (not hot) by now.  Add the egg yolks and stir until combined.  
  7. Gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate in two batches, making sure each batch is combined before adding another.  Once the whipped cream is combined with the chocolate, begin to fold the egg whites in three batches, making sure each batch is fully combined before adding the next.  There should be no streaks or clumps of white when finished.  
  8. Place the cooled brownie(with parchment paper still attached)in a well greased 8-inch cake pan.  Then, very gently pour the mousse over the top and spread around evenly.  Cover tightly with tin foil or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until firm, this will take up to six hours or you can leave it in overnight.  I did the latter.
  9. When the mousse is firm, heat a sharp knife in hot water until the blade is hot, then use it to loosen the mousse from around the edges of the pan.  Firmly place the tin foil back on the pan with your hand placed in the center and gently flip until the cake falls out.   Place on a flat surface and remove the parchment from the bottom of the brownie.  Flip the cake back onto a cake and gently remove the foil.  The mousse should not be messed up if this is done carefully.  
  10. Melt some chocolate and drizzle over the top of the cake, then top with chopped, roasted pistachio and sea salt.  Cut with a hot knife and enjoy.

Chocolate Banana Date Cake {Gluten and Dairy Free}

  “I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power which can move the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

  I haven’t put much thought into blogging or recipe writing during these last three weeks.  To be honest, my mind just hasn’t been thinking about what I’m going to bake next, or what to post.  But instead, what is right and what is wrong; truth, and not lies.  It’s mentally exhausting keeping an informed mind about the happenings of the world; there’s so much discourse going on all at once it can really drive you into despondency.  A little break can do one good.

  January was, undoubtedly, a troublesome month for so many.  The anger, disgust, and fear- they’re all legitimate responses to our current political situation in the United States.  I myself have been battling pessimistic thoughts regarding our country’s new leadership.  It’s quite difficult maintaining an optimistic outlook, but I am trying my best.  It’s really important that we do, even more so that we continue loving each other through it all and not turn our hearts to hate.  That we keep on doing what we can to make our world a better place for all to live in.  

  On a lighter note, I was able to contrive at least one recipe while on hiatus: this chocolate banana date cake.  Delectable and light is every bite; much like powdered sugar that melts in your mouth upon arrival on the tongue.  It is in every aspect, the perfect combination of chocolate and banana, with a hint of cinnamon.  On every slice, a sticky, sweet date to account for the lack of extreme sweetness.  It works well as a midnight snack, or breakfast when you’re feeling like cake.  It goes rather well with a hot cup of coffee, too.  I shall close in saying that it’s completely gluten-free and dairy-free, as well as being utterly delicious if I haven’t stated that enough.  


CHOCOLATE BANANA DATE CAKE

cake

2 cups brown rice flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup coconut palm sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil

2 large eggs, room temp.

2 bananas

4 dates, pitted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup almond milk

4 more dates, pitted and halved

method:

  1. Preheat oven 350°F / 177°C.  Grease and line a 9-inch cake pan.
  2. In a blender/food processor, blend together the four pitted dates and two bananas until smooth.  set aside.  Slice four more dates into halves and remove the pits.  Set aside for later use.
  3.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the rice flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.   
  4. In an electric mixer with whisks attached, beat the sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla on medium speed until fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low until each one is fully incorporated.  Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl once more.  Add the banana mixture, half of the flour, and half of the almond milk; beat on medium speed until combined, then add the remaining flour and almond milk until the flour is just combined and no white streaks can be seen.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and evenly spread around.  Place the halved dates on top of the batter, insides facing up.  Do not press them into the batter, they should only be resting on top of the cake.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, checking for doneness at 35 minutes by using a toothpick; if it comes out clean it is done, if it comes out wet, bake in three minutes segments until it does come out clean and the cake springs back up after being lightly touched.  Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.  When cool, dust with powdered sugar if desired.