Friday, February 12, 2010

Almond Olive Oil Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Olive Oil Granola

For the longest time I’ve wanted to participate in the Cupcake Hero blog event. But with every month that rolled around, I either forgot, or just didn’t feel inspired with a great idea. I’ll admit, when I heard that February’s ingredient was olive oil, my first thought was “Wha-?!”. I remember thinking the same thing when I first read a NYTimes article about olive oil granola. I adapted that recipe to make what The Boy & I consider the most addictive, amazing granola ever. We seriously love this stuff. I knew instantly I wanted to make a cupcake topped with that granola. The more I pondered it, I knew in the back of my mind I had seen a recipe for olive oil cake. So I did some digging and found this great post and recipe on Serious Eats for a Torta di Mandorla or Moist Almond Cake. The post goes on to talk about how it’s a great Valentine’s Day recipe, because the almond is a symbol of deep love and fidelity in Italy. And besides, we all know, olive oil is a heart healthy fat! So, what a better combo for this February Cupcake Hero Contest, than this Almond Olive Oil Cake, topped with Cream Cheese Frosting (so the granola has something to stick to), and Olive Oil Granola.

Not only was this cupcake a great idea in theory, it was great tasting! The cake is super moist, and really flavorful, with a hint of citrus. The olive oil is more of a slight aroma & flavor, so that you barely notice it’s presence; definitely not overpowering. The cream cheese frosting adds a bit of tang to balance out the sweetness of the cake. And the granola adds a crunch, but also a strong, rich, flavor kick. It’s hard to explain, but this really is a great combination of flavors.  I’m so glad I finally got my butt in gear to participate!


Almond Olive Oil Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Olive Oil Granola

granola recipe from ErinsFoodFiles, originally adapted from NYTimes
cake recipe from Gina DePalma via SeriousEats
frosting adapted from Martha Stewart


2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cups raw pistachios, hulled & coarsely chopped
1/2 raw sunflower seeds, hulled
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (freshly ground is amazing)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries and/or raisins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup blanched or natural almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
Grated zest of 1 medium lemon or 1/4 a medium orange
1/2 cup orange juice

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, maple syrup, honey, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.

Transfer granola to a large bowl and add dried cherries/raisins, tossing to combine.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan or springform pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder and salt to thoroughly combine them and set aside.

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk them lightly to break up the yolks. Add the sugar to the bowl and whisk it in thoroughly in both directions for about 30 seconds. Add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is a bit lighter in color and has thickened slightly, about 45 seconds. Whisk in the extracts and zest, followed by the orange juice.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined; continue whisking until you have a smooth, emulsified batter, about 30 more seconds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake the cake for 30 to 45 minutes, rotating the cake pan halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning. The cake is done when it has begun to pull away from the sides of the pan, springs back lightly when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for ten minutes in the pan, then gently remove it from the pan and allow it cool completely on a rack.

Mix cream cheese and vanilla on medium speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle until creamy and light, 2 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add butter; mix until combined.

Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in sugar until combined. If not using immediately, refrigerate, covered, up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before using.

Spread frosting on top of cupcakes, and top with granola.

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