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Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Buttermilk Whipped Cream

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Buttermilk Whipped Cream

Renée Robinson

Olive Oil and Chocolate? Oh, Yes.

I have a particular fondness for simple single layer cakes. For these types of cakes to be memorable, the cake itself must be good enough to eat all on its own. Any glaze or topping is literally icing on the cake. While I have several recipes I make often, I’ve never hit on a chocolate version that I really love. So, this got me to thinking about one of my favorites, an olive oil cake, and I decided to try my hand at coming up with a chocolate version.

First and foremost, I think if you’re going to use olive oil in a cake, then there should be plenty of it. Otherwise, what’s the point, right? This cake contains 1 1/3 cups of medium flavored olive oil. You don’t want a strongly flavored oil because it can be sharply flavored and would conflict with the chocolate flavor. But you do want one that has enough flavor to contribute to the overall flavor profile. I used the Kirkland organic extra virgin olive oil from Costco. California Ranch extra virgin olive oil would also be a good choice here.

The cocoa I used came from King Arthur. It’s called Bensdorp Cocoa and is a Dutch processed cocoa powder with a deep mahogany color. As for other additions, I added a little strong coffee and some Amaretto. These served to round out and enrich the overall flavor.

Slice of Chocolate Olive oil Cake

The texture is not light and fluffy. That’s not what I was going for with this cake. It is dense and moist. The large amount of olive oil gives it a mouth feel which is almost fudge like in the center, while being more cake like near the edges. I thought the deep chocolate flavor would be well served with some tangy lightly sweetened whipped cream and chose to add buttermilk to the heavy cream in order to achieve that flavor.

As to the level of difficulty? Two bowls, a whisk, measuring cups and spoons, and a cake pan are all you need to get this in the oven. But I do recommend a hand beater for whipping the cream. I don’t know about you, but it’s never made sense to me why you’d want to whisk cream by hand when a beater gets the job done so quickly and easily.

I’ve finally found a chocolate single layer cake I truly love.  As my son said, “Well, you know I’m not a particular fan of chocolate cake, but this is one I can fully support.” 

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Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Buttermilk Whipped Cream

Recipe by Renée Robinson

10 - 12


One of the best and easiest chocolate cakes you will ever taste. A lot of olive oil is key to the end result. And the
buttermilk whipped cream is the proverbial icing on this cake.

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  • 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder, sifted

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 1/3 cups medium bodied olive oil

  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature

  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

  • 1/4 cup Amaretto

  • 1 tablespoon strong coffee

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • Buttermilk Whipped Cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 1/3 cup buttermilk, full-fat if possible, otherwise use low-fat

  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

  • cocoa nibs for sprinkling on top, optional


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center. Spray a 9" x 2" round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk all dry ingredient together (cocoa through sugar). In a large bowl, whisk together remaining cake ingredients. Whisk the dry ingredients into the oil mixture until thoroughly blended. Pour into cake pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes. The only way to determine if this cake is done is to check it with a toothpick inserted in the center. it should come out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Be careful not to overbake. Start checking it at 55 minutes.
  • Cool the cake in the pan for 30 minutes before turning it out onto a rack. Cool to room temperature.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream, buttermilk, and powdered sugar until it holds soft peaks. Be careful to not over beat. Spread on top of cooled cake and sprinkle with cocoa nibs. Refrigerate cake. It keeps well for several days.

28 Responses

  1. I’d like to make this cake but need to make it dairy-free for a guest. Can I substitute almond milk or something else for the whole milk? Thank you!

    1. Hi, Karen. I’m so happy you’ll be making this cake! I would substitute oat milk instead of almond milk. Oat milk has more viscosity and isn’t as thin as almond milk. I’ve never actually used anything but whole milk, but I see no reason it shouldn’t turn out fine. Please let me know! Very welcome!

      1. Thank you so much! I’ll do that. I was also thinking about coconut milk but will use oat. I appreciate your prompt and helpful response.

      2. This worked great with oat milk! I also used the vanilla/water substitution for the liquor, and even the combined substitutions made for a fantastic cake! Will definitely make this again. Thanks for your help with this.

        1. Well, I could not be happier to hear this, Karen!!! So glad you enjoyed it. Discussing it with you has really put me in the mood to make it. I love this cake! Thanks so much for getting back to me and letting me know the substitutions worked!

    1. Hi, Valerie. I’ve always bought Disaronno brand. It’s widely available. I hope you enjoy the recipe. Please let me know. Thanks!

  2. Renee, I found this dense, single-layer cake to be flavorful, incredibly moist, and the perfect canvas for the adornment of buttermilk whipped cream and bloom of fresh strawberries. I made this cake for my family on Mother’s Day. They inhaled it!

    This recipe is like having a little black dress — or suit. You won’t need it every day, but it’s important to have when the occasion arises!

    1. And how beautiful is this?? I’m so happy you like it, Sherman! It is indeed a nice recipe to have in your back pocket, isn’t it? Everyone needs a good solid chocolate cake recipe. Thank you so much!

  3. I knew my friend was coming to visit and I wanted to bake her Renee’s special Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
    The sensational velvety texture was deeply satisfying. I used a fine Spanish olive oil, Grand Marnier liqueur and garnished it with fresh Mandarin Orange segments; using a rasp, I grated Orange Chocolate Negro Bar (82%) as the final touch. So good!

  4. I made this cake last week, and it’s definitely a keeper! Easy, moist, and delicious. It also holds really well. I’m always looking for small/manageable desserts, since there are just 2 or us. A cake like this lasts at least a week for us (portion control), and it’s still moist and delicious.

    1. Hi, Lily –

      Technically you could use another oil, but the flavor won’t be as rich and nuanced, although the texture will not be affected. If you’re dealing with an allergy then I can see doing it. Otherwise, I’d stick to the olive oil. The flavor of the olive oil isn’t discerned, but the overall flavor of the cake will be different. Please let me know how you like it if you decide to make it using a different kind of oil.

      Thank you,


  5. Did we love it? We did. Well I only got two pieces, but what I got was delicous. Obviously I’m making it again in the near future.

  6. This recipe sounds divine tho not a a fan of Amaretto taste. How would you adjust recipe w/o this ingredient? add vanilla flavoring? add more liquid?

    1. Hi, there. If you’re not a fan of Amaretto, how about trying some Grand Marnier. A good friend made it with Grand Marnier and liked it very much. But if you’d rather leave out any alcohol, I’d simply add 2 teaspoons vanilla, and substitute the amount of Amaretto for water, minus 2 teaspoons. Please let me know if you make it and how you like it. Thanks!

  7. I just made this yesterday. I think there are three (little) pieces left. Words fail me. My husband called it a chocolate bouchon on steroids. I think that describes this gorgeous cake pretty darn perfectly.

  8. I do have round cake pans. I think I even unpacked them after we moved. But I can’t find them now. So I made this cake in a 9 inch square pan and we cut it, straight from the pan, still warm. It was awesome. No topping of any kind was necessary, the cake alone was all we needed. I asked the rest of the household – husband, sister – whether I would be making this cake again. “Oh yeah – it’s a definite keeper” was my husband’s vote. My sister just smiled through a mouthful of cake. Yup. A keeper.

    1. Elizabeth, I know that chocolate cakes aren’t your favorite, so I’m really surprised you made it. I am so glad you liked it!!!! Devin feels the same about chocolate cakes and said again yesterday, “Mom, I not only support this cake, I LOVE it.” LOL! Thank you so much!! And I feel sure those round pans will show up at some point.

      1. I don’t HATE them, but will usually choose something fruity over something chocolatey. But just the other day Carl, who is the cake baker in the family, wistfully said “maybe some one will make me brownies for my birthday cake”. So subtle. His birthday is at the end of May so he is giving me plenty of notice, and he loves those tahini brownies. Anyway, your description of this cake, along with my fondness for a bit of plain snacking-type cakes, led me to go for it, and I was not disappointed. It’s a cracker of a cake (and was so lovely eaten warm – we are going to have it later with tea and coffee after doing some gardening work, so I’m interested to experience the “next day” texture).

        1. Carl is definitely subtle. Lol! I also love those tahini brownies, so I understand his feelings on this. As to the next day texture, I’m curious as to what you think. I thought it held up well for days. I had to keep mine refrigerated due to the whipped cream topping. I really want to hear what you have to say because I’m assuming yours is at room temperature. Be sure and let me know.

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