This post was created in partnership with Colavita. All opinions are our own.
If you like chocolate, coffee, and cake, today is your lucky day. And if you’ve never baked a cake before, let this easy one-bowl recipe be your first! Ryan made a similar cake in a kids cooking class when he was just 5 years old, so if that precocious kindergartener with baby blonde curls could pull it off, then you, too, will be able to impress your friends and family this holiday season with this decadent dessert. Rich, moist, and ultra-chocolatey, please welcome your new go-to chocolate cake recipe. We know what you were thinking when you saw the word “vegan” in the title—how can you bake a cake without eggs, butter, or milk? Sit back, relax, and we’ll let you in on a few of our secrets.
We’re thrilled to be working with Colavita this year. They are a family brand with a passion for producing the highest quality olive oils and have been distributing products around the world since 1979. Today we are using their Premium Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which perfectly complements these dark chocolate and espresso flavors.
You would never guess this dessert is vegan. How can cake be so light and fluffy without eggs and milk? How can frosting be so silky without butter? We have a few tricks up our sleeves that make this recipe truly magical. First, instead of eggs and milk, we use a simple blend of olive oil, white vinegar, and water which keeps this cake extra-soft and just as delicious as any non-vegan version. The vinegar reacts with baking soda to fill the batter with tiny bubbles (remember your elementary school science project volcanos?), giving this cake a tender texture and an exceptionally soft crumb. The extra virgin olive oil also adds a slight hint of peppery flavor—a match made in heaven with dark chocolate. And for our second trick, we use vegan butter in our espresso frosting, making this dessert accessible to everyone, no matter what their dietary needs may be. No slice left behind!
This cake is a piece of cake to make! First, you sift the dry ingredients in a bowl, then mix in the wet ingredients, pour the batter into a pan, and that’s it! While it’s baking in the oven, you can quickly whip up the espresso frosting in the same bowl. Chocolate cake in less than an hour from start to finish? Yes please! Surprise your loved ones this weekend and present this beauty after a romantic dinner. Or cut it into cute squares like we did and serve them at your next socially-distanced gathering. However you decide to slice it, just try to share… it’s the holidays after all!
Vegan Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Espresso Frosting
Makes 1 single-layer, 8- or 9-inch cake
Serves 8 to 10
For the Cake:
1/2 tablespoon vegan butter, to grease the pan
1 1/2 cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (198 g) granulated sugar
5 tablespoons (27 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (see note)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (237 ml) water
6 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Frosting:
1/2 cup (113 g) vegan butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (142 g) powdered sugar
5 tablespoons (27 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (see note)
1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder (see note)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 to 10 coffee beans, coarsely ground or crushed in a mortar and pestle (optional, see note)
To Make the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F/177°C. Grease an 8-inch square pan or an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan with vegan butter. Line the bottom of the pan with a square or circle of parchment, and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, and whisk until evenly mixed. Add the water, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, and vanilla, and stir just until blended to avoid overmixing. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with a few crumbs sticking to it, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack, peel off the parchment paper, and let cool completely.
To Make the Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl, blend the vegan butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Sift the powdered sugar, cocoa, and espresso powder into the bowl using a wire-mesh strainer, then add the vanilla and blend on medium-high speed until creamy. Add the crushed coffee beans, if desired, and blend to combine.
Once the cake has cooled completely, place it on a serving plate. Frost the top (and sides, if desired) evenly with the frosting. Serve and enjoy!
— The cake will stay fresh in a covered container at room temperature for a day or up to 3 days in the fridge. If refrigerating, allow the cake to warm to room temperature before serving.
— The cake can be baked in an 8-inch square pan, or an 8- or 9-inch circle pan. An 8-inch circle cake will be slightly taller and will take up to 5 minutes longer to bake.
— To make a 6-inch cake that serves 4 to 6 people, simply halve the recipe for both the cake and frosting.
— There are two types of unsweetened cocoa powder available in stores: natural and dutch processed. Natural cocoa has a reddish-brown color and an intense bittersweet chocolate flavor. Dutch-processed cocoa is much darker in color, resulting in baked goods that appear almost black (as pictured above), with a slightly less bitter flavor, similar to an Oreo cookie. For this recipe, either type works, so use whichever you prefer.
— Espresso powder is sold in the baking aisle of many grocery stores and online. It is simply made of coffee beans that are very finely ground, allowing you to add coffee flavor to baked goods without affecting the texture.
— The crushed or ground coffee beans add a delightful subtle crunch to the frosting, but if you prefer a perfectly smooth frosting, feel free to omit them.
— To make this recipe gluten-free, simply substitute the all-purpose flour for your preferred brand of 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour, which can be found in grocery stores and online.