I grew up thinking I had a sweet tooth. I’d routinely choose a cookie over chips or hot cocoa over coffee. It wasn’t until I was well into my 30s that I realized it wasn’t actually sugar I craved, it was chocolate – deep, rich, flavorful dark chocolate, to be precise.
Since then I’ve gotten my daily fix by savoring the corner of a chocolate bar or, on occasion, digging into something more special, like these Mini Chocolate Olive Oil Cakes.
A Healthier Chocolate Cake
These pint-sized cakes are undeniably decadent, so you might be surprised by the ingredients.
While they don’t exactly qualify as “health food,” they’re healthier than your standard variety confection. That’s because they’re made with almond flour instead of all-purpose flour and olive oil in place of butter.
Translation? More fiber, protein, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Plus, they bake in a cupcake tin, which means built-in portion control. Each cake clocks in at a reasonable 300 or so calories per serving.
What Kind of Chocolate to Use
The other upside to this recipe is that it calls for dark chocolate, which has quite a reputation for its antioxidant properties.
I recommend opting for a chocolate that’s somewhere between 60 and 75 percent cacao. That will give you deep flavor and just enough sweetness to make this cake shine. You can use bar chocolate or good-quality dark chocolate chips.
I’m a fan of my hometown brand, Guittard, particularly their Extra Dark Chocolate Chips (sold in a shiny red package). I also think Trader Joe’s 72 percent cacao Belgian chocolate bars are a good bet at a fair price.
A Word About the Sugar
The recipe calls for just half a cup of added sweetener in the form of honey and either coconut sugar or brown sugar.
Coconut sugar has gained interest for having a slightly lower glycemic index than standard sugar, but it is more expensive than brown sugar. Both options are perfectly acceptable, particularly since you don’t need much.
Because the cake is so moist and flavorful all on its own, no frosting is needed. As a result, this is a cake to satisfy that “chocolate tooth” without jacking up your blood sugar in the same way a more classic cake might.
What Kind of Olive Oil to Use
When it comes to choosing olive oil, I stock extra-virgin for both baking and cooking. That’s because extra-virgin oil is superior in both taste and nutrition. It’s full of antioxidants and processed without chemicals or heat.
Since I live in California, I prefer brands that are produced close to home, such as Cobram Estates.
A Gluten-Free and Grain-Free Chocolate Cake
Because the recipe uses almond flour, these cakes qualify as 100 percent gluten-free. They’re also paleo-friendly as long as you swap in an appropriate chocolate, such as Lily’s or Hu brand.
For your vegan friends, this isn’t the best bet, since the recipe calls for eggs.
Equipment Needed for Flourless Mini Chocolate Cakes
A garden-variety cupcake tin is all you need for baking. That said, the recipe also works well as a full-size cake. Just grease an eight-inch round pan and add about five minutes to the cooking time.
Unlike the mini cakes, which can be wedged whole out of the tin, you’ll want to cut the cake into slices and serve it right from the pan.
You may be wondering: Do these mini cakes rise like a layer cake? These aren’t your typical domed numbers that you might expect from a cake mix. There’s no baking soda or powder, it has very little flour, and what it does have lacks the gluten to provide much structure.
Really, it’s more akin to a flourless cake than a more conventional one. The cakes will rise and then deflate when you pull them from the oven. They may be wobbly and a little lopsided, but entirely craveable, nevertheless.
Storing and Freezing Flourless Mini Chocolate Cakes
One of the magical upsides to these cakes is that they’re delicious warm from the oven and just as good later that day or the next. If you do want to make them ahead, just wedge them from the cupcake tin and store in a covered container. Any leftovers will hold up well stored in the fridge for several days.
And yes, these mini cakes are absolutely freezer-friendly. Once completely cool, wrap a layer of plastic wrap around each cake and stow in a resealable freezer bag. To defrost, unwrap and leave at room temperature for a few hours.