It’s almost Easter and this is a treat for all ages. This is not my recipe, but I have been making it for years and had to share it. The original cake recipe is called “Umbrian Chocolate Cake“, or in Italian Torta di Cioccolato di Olio di Oliva, and comes from the cookbook Ciao Italia in Umbria. The author, Mary Ann Esposito, is a well-known Italian chef and PBS television personality. I had the pleasure of meeting Esposito years ago and she is a lovely and very talented lady.
This recipe was so appealing to me because of its use of olive oil and vinegar, which help make this cake incredibly moist and fluffy, yet not too sweet. This recipe is egg and dairy free, which is a great option for so many people out there with allergies (my niece included). Esposito uses a traditional mascarpone frosting. I have changed it to a cream cheese-based one, but you can easily substitute with your favorite frosting, especially if you need to accommodate any allergies.
I make these for big gatherings and even class parties at my kids’ school. If you poke around, you will find many recipes for olive oil cakes. The concept is not new, but typically they are vanilla-based with a hint a citrus. Using rich cocoa powder gives this a different twist, and is a nice alternative to the classic chocolate cupcake.
Chocolate Olive Oil Cupcakes
- For the Cake:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 6 tablespoons cocoa
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 cups cold water
- For the Frosting:
- 1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
- Step 1 For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cupcake baking pans with 18 cupcake liners. and set aside.
- Step 2 In a large mixing bowl add the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix well to incorporate.
- Step 3 Add the olive oil, vinegar, vanilla and water and whisk well until smooth.
- Step 4 Pour the batter into the cupcake pans. Bake for about 20 minutes or till the cupcakes are firm to the tough.
- Step 5 Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.
- Step 6 For the frosting: Using a kitchen mixer, such as a KitchenAid, fitted with a paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides as you go. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla extract and mix well. Gradually add the confectioner’s sugar and mix well to incorporate.
- Step 7 Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, use an offset spatula to frost. Decorate the tops as desired. For these Easter cupcakes I used small marzipan rabbits to keep them simple yet completely edible.