Chocolate olive oil cake

I don’t do sweet very often. I mean, I do, but mostly in the form of a piece of chocolate, or fruit, or jam, or whatever else I may be craving. But what I mean is I don’t make sweet things very often. Whether it’s a pudding or a snack (do cakes come under snack?) I tend to see them as an indulgence and dare I say it, somewhat frivolous. However, once in a while I get a craving and nothing else will do, which is what led us to the miracle that is chocolate olive oil cake. Before we get too much further I should say that real credit should go to Nigella for the original recipe that I adapted based on what I had on hand, so cheers Nigella!

If you wanted to make this flourless and gluten-free you absolutely could

You may notice that the original recipe is gluten-free, as it is made with ground almonds, which also helps to give a heavier and more decadent texture to the finished cake. Here I have used hazelnuts instead as I prefer the flavour, which I’ve combined with a little all-purpose flour. The main reason for the flour is that I didn’t quite have enough hazelnuts, but it also has the added benefit of lifting the richness slightly. However, if you wanted to make this flourless and gluten-free you absolutely could, just swap out the 40g of flour for another 50g of ground hazelnuts (making it 150g in total).

A chocolate olive oil cake is generously dusted with cocoa powder sitting on a cooling rack

Why olive oil?

You’ll notice some sort of fat in all cake recipes. This is because fat makes the cake moist, which helps to give a good texture and adds richness that makes it delicious. Olive oil may seem like an odd choice of fat to go with chocolate. It can taste green, peppery and somewhat astringent straight out of the bottle, especially when compared to the more widely used butter. However, these notes mellow in cooking and instead what you’re left with is an incredibly moist and decadent cake. This is to do with the fat content of olive oil which is around 90-95% compared with butter, which is around 80-85%. Quite simply, more fat, better flavour.

Quite simply, more fat, better flavour.

A slice of chocolate olive oil cake

Chocolate olive oil cake recipe

Makes 8-10 slices

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes


  • 50g unsweetened cocoa
  • 125ml boiling water
  • 100g ground hazelnuts
  • 40g all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 200 grams caster sugar
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  1. Line and grease a 23cm/9 inch cake tin and put the oven on to 170Β°C. Do this step first and don’t be a fool – there’s nothing worse than having your batter ready and then have to rush around lining tins and waiting for the oven to heat up.
  2. Sift the cocoa into a jug and add the boiling water. Leave to one side to cool down.
  3. In a bowl add the hazelnuts, flour, bicarb and salt and mix together. Again, put to one side.
  4. Place the remaining ingredients (olive oil, sugar and eggs) in a separate bowl and whisk vigorously together. This bowl will eventually have the final batter in it so make sure it’s big enough for everything. It’s best to use a stand or electric whisk here instead of beating everything by hand or you’ll get very tired. You’ll know you’re ready for the next step once the mixture is thickened and aerated (about 3 mins).
  5. Whilst beating the oil mixture, slow your whisk a little and gradually add in the cocoa.
  6. Once fully combined slowly add in the remaining hazelnut mixture and make sure the batter is well-mixed.
  7. Pour the cake batter into your cake tin and bake for 40-45 mins. To test if it’s done prod the centre with a skewer. It will be mainly clean, but with a few crumbs clinging to it.
  8. Place on a cooling rack. After 10 minutes the cake will have come away from the sides of the tin and is ready to be set free. At this point you have some important choices: leave to cool completely or eat while still warm with a little creme fraiche and a handful of raspberries.