When I was a kid, I couldn’t get enough chocolate. It was, easily, my favorite flavor. Death by chocolate, molten lava cakes, chocolate ice cream topped with hot fudge sauce: they were the desserts I dreamed about. In my mind chocolate plus chocolate plus chocolate could only be improved with more chocolate.
Now I tend to favor more complex flavors in my desserts. I like deep caramels and nuts and browned butter, warm fruit, tangy creme fraiche. I still love chocolate, but I want something more from it than just chocolate.
It’s been a while since I got excited about a chocolate cake. They can be too dry, too sweet, too boring. I’d often rather have a fudgy brownie or creamy mousse. I like my chocolate velvety. This cake from Dana Cree, the pastry chef at Chicago’s highly regarded Blackbird restaurant, is that and more.
There’s something about combining chocolate with olive oil that makes it feel new and exciting. It highlights rather than masks chocolate’s fruity notes, unlike butter or cream. I decided to use buckwheat flour here because I love the way it’s dusky flavor pairs with chocolate. It also, coincidentally, makes this a gluten-free and dairy-free dessert (though not vegan or sugar free or low-fat).
This is a grown up chocolate cake. It is deep and dark with a hint of grassiness and bitterness, and though it is soft and a little bit gooey, the olive oil prevents it from feeling overly rich. It is the sort of cake to have with coffee or, even better, espresso.
And it’s baked in mason jars, which is, like, totes adorbs. (Maybe some of you will find it overly twee, but I’m still smitten with just about anything in little jars.)
My only caveat on this recipe is that my yield was different from Cree’s. She says it should make six cakes, and I only got four. Perhaps my eggs were on the small side and didn’t whip up as voluminously as hers or perhaps this recipe was scaled down and something slightly wonky happened with yield in the translation? I’m not sure. I’m going to tell you this yields four, but I’ll check the next time I make these (there will be a next time, for sure) and see if it goes further.
Chocolate Olive Oil Buckwheat Cakes
Use a high quality fruity olive oil here. Anything on the fruity side of the olive oil spectrum will be lovely here. I especially like Guittard chocolate, but Valrhona, Callebaut, or Ghirardelli are other widely distributed high quality chocolate brands that would work well. I really like the buckwheat here, but you can substitute all purpose flour for the buckwheat if you prefer. (Obviously, it would no longer be gluten free.) One of the great things about these cakes is that you can make the batter ahead of time, divide it into jars, cover, refrigerate, and bake whenever you’re ready, either all together or one at a time, for up to a week.
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 64%, I used a blend of 72% and 58%)
- 1/2 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
- flaky sea salt for topping
Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Have four 8-ounce mason jars clean and ready.
- Combine the chocolate and olive oil in a metal bowl. Set over a pot of simmering water and stir until melted. Set aside.
In another medium metal bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and salt. Place over a pot of simmering water, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 100°F (or feels slightly warm to the touch). Remove from heat and pass through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
- Mix on high speed until the egg mixture is pale, fluffy, and significantly increased in volume, about 5 minutes.
- On low speed, pour in the melted chocolate, and mix until the chocolate is almost fully incorporated, about a minute.
- Sift the buckwheat flour over the batter, and using a wide rubber spatula, gently fold the flour into the egg and chocolate mixture until the batter is smooth and no dry pockets remain.
- Divide among four jars, filling about two-thirds of the way to the top. (At this point, you can cover and refrigerate all or some of the cakes to bake up to a week later.) Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is puffed and looks dry. The centers will still be soft and gooey.
- Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and serve warm.