Good extra virgin olive oil is an underrated secret ingredient, especially when it comes to desserts. It adds a nuanced flavor to sweet treats, keeps cakes moist, and adds a luscious crumbly texture to crumbles. Some dessert recipes will call specifically for extra virgin olive oil, but you can also substitute olive oil in recipes that call for butter! Aside from the flavor and texture benefits, baking with olive oil instead of butter is a good way to reduce saturated fat and increase monounsaturated fats.
A few tips for olive oil baking success:
- Use a 3:4 ratio of olive oil to butter when substituting extra virgin olive oil in a recipe that calls for butter. For example, if a baking recipe calls for a stick of butter (8 tablespoons), use 6 tablespoons of olive oil. (Here is a full conversion table.)
- If you’re substituting extra virgin olive oil for another type of oil (go for it!), simply use equal amounts.
- Only bake with an extra virgin olive oil that you actually like the flavor of! It’s true, using olive oil will impart a slight olive oil taste, so why ruin a dessert with low-quality olive oil that doesn’t even taste that good?
- That said, a delicate oil – like our the Arbequina and Mild & Buttery Everyday oil – works best. The more delicate flavor profiles, with low bitterness and pungency, will better mimic the flavor of the butter that it is replacing.
- In chocolate recipes, however, experiment with a more robust oil! High-quality chocolate can stand up to the bitterness and pungency of a medium or even a robust extra virgin olive oil, like our medium-robust Arbosana.
And now on to a few recipes! These feature summer fruits and flavors, but many can be adapted for baking throughout the year.
Lemon Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake with Warm Cherries
This is one of those cakes that has everything going for it. It’s fresh from the lemon zest, hearty from the cornmeal, and has just enough sweetness from the honey. The extra virgin olive oil makes the cake extra moist on the inside and just slightly crispy on the edges. Plus, this version has a gooey cherry topping that just screams summer decadence.
For the cake:
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup natural cane sugar
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 eggs
- 1 very ripe banana, mashed
- zest of 2 lemons (reserve 1 tsp. for cherries)
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 ½ cups almond meal
- large pinch of salt
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 lb. cherries, pitted; fresh or frozen
- 2 tbsp. orange juice
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 tbsp. natural cane sugar or honey
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- honey or maple sweetened yogurt or vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)
- chopped almonds, for serving (optional)
For the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 10-inch cake pan or pie dish with parchment paper and grease the sides with extra virgin olive oil.
- Add the extra virgin olive oil, sugar, and honey to a mixing bowl. Cream with a hand mixer for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix until fully incorporated.
- Add the mashed banana, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and mix.
- Add the cornmeal, almond meal, salt, and baking powder. Mix until just combined.
- Pour batter evenly into the cake pan and bake on the middle rack for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Once cool, gently remove from pan by turning upside down and placing on a serving dish.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice and vanilla extract.
- Put the cherries in a small skillet, add the orange juice mixture, the reserved lemon zest, and the sweetener.
- Stir over medium heat until the juices start to thicken and the fruit is warmed through, about 8 minutes.
- Serve the olive oil cake with a large spoonful of warm cherries and yogurt or vanilla ice cream, if using.
Stone Fruit Crisp
This crisp is simple and to-the-point, letting the summery stone fruits of your choice shine. We used a combination of yellow peaches, plums, and apricots here, but feel free to use your favorites or what you have on hand.
recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker
- 6-7 ripe stone fruits, such as peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots, pits removed and sliced
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, and/or pecans)
- 2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. coconut sugar (or more brown sugar)
- a pinch of sea salt
- 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating pan
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat an 8×8″ baking dish with extra virgin olive oil.
- Add sliced fruit directly to the dish and spread evenly on the bottom.
- To a mixing bowl, add crumble ingredients: oats, flour, nuts, sugars, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. Use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix well.
- Pour the crumble mixture on top of the fruit in an even layer. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the top is crisp and golden.
- Serve as is, or with ice cream! Keep leftovers for 2-3 days, covered in the refrigerator.
Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse with Macerated Berries
Using olive oil instead of butter in mousse may feel a bit odd a first, but we love the creamy texture and rich flavor a fruity, high-quality extra virgin olive oil imparts. This recipe is perfect for summer with a simple basil-berry topping and no ovens involved!
mousse recipe courtesy of Nancy Harmon Jenkins
for the mousse:
- 6 oz. high-quality bittersweet chocolate
- 2 tbsp. armagnac or cognac
- 2 tbsp. very strong brewed coffee
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp. finely grated orange zest, optional
- ½ cup California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of sea salt
- 2 tbsp. sugar
for the berries:
- 2 cups berries of choice (we used strawberries and raspberries)
- 4 tsp. maple syrup or honey
- 1 tbsp. each fresh basil and mint, thinly sliced
for the mousse:
- Chop or grate the chocolate and add along with the liqueur and coffee to the top of a double boiler. Bring the water to a simmer, not a rapid boil, and let the chocolate melt thoroughly, stirring occasionally. Once all the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Separate the eggs, setting the egg whites aside. Using a hand mixer, beat the chocolate while adding the egg yolks, one after the other, beating continuously. Still beating, pour in the extra virgin olive oil. When everything is fully combined into a dark, shiny liquid, beat in the orange zest, if using.
- Clean and dry the beaters thoroughly. Beat the egg whites, first adding a pinch of salt and later, as the whites mount and firm up, the sugar. Beat until the eggs are very stiff.
- Fold about a quarter of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture. When it is thoroughly incorporated, continue with the rest of the egg whites, about 1/4 at a time, until all the whites have been folded in and no trace of white can be seen.
- Spoon the mousse into a serving bowl (or 6 individual ramekins) and set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to become totally firm.
- To serve, top each serving with a spoonful of berries (below) and an additional drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- The mousse may be kept for several days, covered and refrigerated.
for the berries:
- Slice the strawberries. Mix all berries with sweetener and herbs in a medium bowl. Allow them to macerate for about an hour or as long as a few hours.