We knew we had a winning cake recipe from our friend Marie Simmons when she told us she’d have to send us a photo of just part of the cake. Marie’s husband had been so excited to eat it she’d been unable to take a photo of the whole thing.
“My darned camera battery needs to be charged. Will have to send photo later or tomorrow,” she wrote in an e-mail. “John couldn’t wait to taste. Now I have cake with a wedge out. But I can be creative.”
The photo, needless to say, looks great. And the recipe for the chocolate orange almond cake been an especially popular addition to our repertoire.
Marie, by the way, is an award-winning cookbook author and all around great person. She’s got an uncanny ability for whipping up amazing recipes And Marie has a hilarious sense of humor, too, as we learned from spending time with her at our recent Harvest Retreat.
Marie’s recipe combines some of our favorite ingredients: chocolate, almonds, orange zest, and extra virgin olive oil. (Click here to see the recipe.) The cake gets finished with a chocolate glaze and toasted almonds. If you want to go all the way, Marie says you can serve the cake with orange liqueur-flavored whipped cream.
Either way, it’s easy to see why Marie’s husband couldn’t wait to take a bite.
Marie adapted the recipe for us from the one that appeared in the cookbook she co-authored with the now deceased chef, Richard Sax: Lighter, Quicker, Better (William Morrow, 1995) . The book won both the Julia Child and James Beard cookbook awards, the culinary equivalent of two gold medals.
Marie says you can use walnuts or hazelnuts instead of almonds to prepare the cake. She also gave us some tips on how to remove the zest from the orange and get the most flavor from it.
“Remove the orange zest with a vegetable peeler and then coarsely chop before finely chopping with the almonds and sugar in the food processor,” she said. “The impact of the sharp steel blade releases the volatile oils in the orange zest and gives the cake bright fresh orange taste.”
The cake recipe joins our growing list of baked dishes that use olive oil instead of butter. Our December eNewsletter is devoted to desserts that use extra virgin olive oil instead of butter, particularly in baking. (Click here to see our December eNews.)
“Olive oil, used in baking throughout the Mediterranean, adds moisture and a tender crumb to cakes and cookies,” Marie told us.
Mediterranean residents should know. Given the warm climate of the Mediterranean region, where butter can spoil more easily, bakers there have long looked to olive oil to make cakes and other desserts.
Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch