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On February 14, say “Olive You!”

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02/04/2013

Instead of the usual box of chocolates and the cliché soufflés and cakes, give your heart's desire a gift that is from your heart and good for theirs.

I am talking about olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil has a long list of health benefits from reducing coronary artery disease and cholesterol regulation.

My favorite extra virgin olive oil is an unfiltered oil from Spain. It is rich, luscious and smells like artichokes and tomatoes. I recently tasted an oil from France that was rich and buttery. Olive oils like wines have a distinct taste or terroir depending upon where they are grown. I urge home cooks to shop the specialty and gourmet shops for their olive oil. The supermarket oils are often lacking in flavor and are frequently misleading in the origin of the olives. The bottle may say that the oil was bottled in Italy but not mention where the olives were grown. The olives could have come from many different countries and in different stages of ripeness which yields an off tasting oil.

Estate grown oils are picked at the perfect stage of ripeness and pressed right after harvest. This ensures a balanced oil that is luscious.

Baking with olive oil is easy and yields a moist delicious cake. This February 14, I urge you to try something different and say OLIVE YOU, your heart and your beloved's will thank you.

Super Fudgy Chocolate Cake   

This easy and delicious cake has chocolate and olive oil in it. What a great combo! The cake may be made up to 2 days ahead of serving. 

4 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup potato starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup boiling water

1. Place oven rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Oil a 9-inch spring-form pan or 2 9x5x3-inch loaf pans.

2. Place eggs, brown sugar, and white sugar into the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the whip attachment beat on medium-high until mixture is light and fluffy. Slowly drizzle in the canola oil. Continue beating until the mixture is well emulsified. Add the vanilla and mix well.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, potato starch, baking powder, and salt. Mix together with a whisk until thoroughly blended.

4. Change to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture all at once.  While blending, slowly add the boiling water. Be careful not to let any splash out. Continue mixing until the batter is smooth. Finish mixing with a rubber spatula, scraping the sides and the bottom as you mix.

5. Place prepared pan on a baking sheet. Pour batter into prepared pan. If using two loaf pans, be sure to divide batter evenly.

6. Place into preheated oven and bake until a wooden skewer comes out cleanly.  This will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes for the 9-inch spring-form pan, and 40-50 minutes for the loaf pans.

7. Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 30 minutes. For the spring-form pan, remove the collar and cool completely. For the loaf pans, after 30 minutes, carefully run a thin knife around the sides of the pans. Carefully tip the cakes out on their side and then stand them back up. Allow to cool completely. If cakes do not come out easily, allow to cool in pans for 10 more minutes and try again. As they cool, they shrink away from the sides of the pan. 

When cool, cakes can be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for 5 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.

Cakes can be served as they are, dusted with powdered sugar, or glazed with Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Icing. 

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Icing 

This versatile and rich icing is quick to put together and can be used to frost cupcakes, cakes, pound cakes or as a filling for sandwich cookies. 

1⅓ cups + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
½ teaspoon vanilla

1. Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the whip attachment beat on medium-high speed until the icing is light and fluffy. If too dry and stiff, add more water ½ teaspoon at a time until a smooth, fluffy consistency is reached. If too loose, add more powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.

Yields enough icing for the top of 1 9-inch cake or 2 loaf cakes.

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