chocolate olive oil cupcakes

Chocolate and olive oil. Two things that I would've guessed should not be added to a recipe together, yet I was brazen enough to give it a try a couple of months ago.

Remember I mentioned playing around with goat's milk butter to make Oliver's Buttercream Frosting? Well, I had to get creative with the cupcakes too to avoid anything derived from cow's milk. Isabella really wanted a chocolate cupcake, and frankly I'm glad she was so insistent because I would've probably shied away from using olive oil in this batter otherwise.

Using artificial substitutes was not an option. Honestly, even if it's from the healthfood store, all that stuff scares me and feels a little too frankenfood-like. Butter I know. Olive oil isn't foreign. Dairy-free soybean margarine just conjures up factory-food images I'd rather not put into anything I'm cooking for people I love.

Now, I thought I was a devoted butter girl, but as you may remember from those lemon olive oil cupcakes, I started thinking a little differently recently. Sure a fat is a fat, but olive oil is a healthier one compared to butter. That means I can eat all the cupcakes I want now, right? Please just let me enjoy this dream for a few more minutes. Another thing I love about working with olive oil in baking is there's no wait time for the butter to soften. It really helps when the spontaneous urge to bake hits you. 

I plan on making a big batch of these cupcakes to celebrate this July when Gina, Ilina and I are finally all in one place. And, don't be surprised if you hear us from every corner of the globe when it happens. Gina, author of Taste This, and resident baker and cook at Bowlicker, is my San Francisco Italian counterpart. The first time we met, it's as though we'd known each other for years.

Imagine my big personality shoved into the body of a five foot Indian gal, living in North Carolina. Well, meet Ilina, and like me, she tells it like it is in real life and over at her blog Dirt & Noise. She also posts a cocktail every Friday, so you can understand why we'd get along so well.

Unbelievably, Gina and Ilina have never met in real life. I'm the in real life connection. Until July. Then all hell breaks loose, and New York City will never know what happened when they come storming into town.

chocolate olive oil cupcakes

makes 18 cupcakes

I used almond milk in the batter, but if there are no dairy allergies, then feel free to swap in whole cow's milk. I don't stock skim or low fat milk, but sure those would work fine too. And if there's a nut allergy, then please definitely do not use the almond milk. That might sound like a no-brainer, but I felt the need to make it clear.

2 cups (8.5 ounces) flour

1/4 cup (1 ounce) 100% cocoa

1 tablespoon (11 grams) baking powder

1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) coarse sea salt

3 large eggs (200ml), at room temperature

1 (8 ounces) cup sugar

1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil or regular

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup (125ml) whole milk or almond milk

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line one 12-cup muffin tin and one 6-cup muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in a bowl; set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, sugar and olive oil, until thick and well-mixed. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Add the  flour mixture and pour in the milk, stirring well with a wooden spoon until just combine. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 of the way. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until center springs back when gently touched or a metal skewer inserted comes out clean.

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  • Mia

    I really appreciate all these recipes without milk. My best friend is lactose intolerant and I’m always looking for food that safe to feed her.

  • Katie @ cozydelicious

    What a great cupcake! My grandmother actually swore by oil instead of butter in her cupcakes, she said it made them lighter. But I’ve always been scraed of the extra fruitiness that olive oil might add… I’m going to have to give it a shot, though. Yum!

  • Sharlene

    Yum! These sound so good! I’ve tried olive oil cakes and loved them so I’m also looking to replace some butter with olive oil when possible but not all the time (love butter too much). Thanks for the recipe!

  • Jennie

    Katie, I’ve experimented with a basic olive oil and extra virgin olive oils and didn’t take any discernible difference in the chocolate cupcakes. I do, however, taste a difference when I make the lemon olive oil ones. I think the lemon really plays off the olive oil, and in that case the fruity undertone from the evoo is really lovely.
    Sharlene, I’m with you. I love butter too much to quit it all together, but it is certainly a fun and easy departure.
    Mia, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the dairy-free recipes. I know how difficult it has been for parents with small children and these allergies. At home they do fine, but at school it’s tough to see their friends enjoying all the goodies and not be able to take part. It really warms my heart when I see the smile and glow after telling them it’s okay to eat.
    Jen, I live in NYC so yes, you’ll see me at Blogher hanging in the shadows. I didn’t buy a ticket to the conference.

  • Britt

    That’s hilarious–I have two friends, Gina & Elina, who I have the same relationship with. They’ve never met, I’m the link, but we’re all the same person and even have the same birthday. Freaky that there’s another trio (with such similar names!) out there like that. If I could get Gina out here to NYC with Elina and I during the same time that your ladies are in town, I think the universe just might implode.
    The cupcakes look tasty, btw! Chocolate & olive oil–I’ll have to give that combo a try. 🙂

  • fragolina

    first time visit your blog. I like the recipes. and I like olive oil in cakes,so im gonna try this chocolate recipe and keep you posted. 🙂

  • fragolina

    I just baked these muffins, the texture is great.I could taste the olive oil more than the cocoa flavor. i did once 2 recipes, lemon poppy seed cakes and orange poppy seed cake both with olive oil,but i barely can taste it in the cakes, unlike now.I thought maybe if we reduced the olive oil and put 1/2 cup cocoa,1 3/4 flour, we could taste more the chocolatey flavor in the cakes.i’ll see tomorrow how they’re gonna taste. But i’m glad of trying new recipes & new flavors. 🙂

  • Jennie

    Fragolina — perhaps it is the type or variety of olive you used. Mine most definitely did not have a pronounced olive oil flavor, though keep in mind these are also not fudgy cupcakes, so the chocolate is very subtle too. Glad you’re experimenting. Keep in mind, thought that you need a certain amount of fat in this recipe, so if scaling back the olive oil, you will need to replace it with something.

  • fragolina

    Yes, I used extra virgin olive oil, a good quality. and the cocoa was subtle.I was searching for a chocolate recipe using only cocoa that could be a as good as if I was using plain chocolate. If I did it again with some changes,I’ll keep you posted. Thank you.

  • fragolina

    Oh, and by the way, the second day I tasted the muffins, the had a strong olive oil flavor. Wasn’t a favourite, sorry. I should have not used this kind of olive oil. Sorry for my constant complaining.Thank you.

  • gateau au chocolat

    I tried these and they were extremely delicious. The kids loved them so much, there weren’t any left after what seemed like 10 minutes. I especially liked the idea of using olive oil as an alternative to the traditional butter.

  • Yarden

    delicious!!! i made them with a few changes. adding espresso and adding bits of chopped up dark chocolates inside the batter so then every cupcake gets a bit of yummy goey melted chocolate. and substituted half the sugar with brown sugar.
    added a little toasted coconut on top!