This vegan chocolate olive oil cake is infused with fresh rosemary and filled with strawberries. Topped with vanilla buttercream and dark chocolate ganache, it’s a nontraditional cake perfect for summer. If you’re a gardener, this cake is a great way to use your fresh herbs.
I love pairing savory and sweet flavors in dessert and drinks, especially with fresh herbs. Lemon and thyme, or basil and watermelon? Delicious.
I’m especially a fan of rosemary and chocolate. The bright, woody flavor of the rosemary pairs so nicely with the rich flavor of chocolate. The rosemary sea salt caramels are my absolutely favorite chocolate from Lagusta’s Luscious. And rosemary adds an extra special something to the classic chocolate chip cookie in this recipe from The PPK. Turns out, this combo makes a fantastic cake too.
I made this cake for my dad’s birthday. He’s not a big fan of overly sweet things, or buttercream. I kept the frosting to a minimum, and the rosemary and olive oil cut any cloying sweetness.
The base is a basic chocolate cake made with olive oil instead of vegetable oil, with some rosemary mixed in the batter. Inside is a simple strawberry filling made with fresh sliced strawberries. The sweetest part of the cake is a very thin layer of vanilla buttercream, which is topped with chocolate ganache.
Can you use olive oil in cake? Absolutely! It adds a wonderful depth of flavor to chocolate cake, and makes it a bit more tender. The olive oil will give the cake a more delicate crumb, but it’ll melt in your mouth.
You can substitute olive oil for vegetable oil in cake or any other recipe too. Whether you ran out of another oil or just like the flavor. Just be aware you will be able to taste it. The flavor of the oil pairs well with lemon, orange, and almond cake. Basically any flavor that it pairs well with in savory dishes!
Fresh vs dried rosemary
You can use either fresh or dried rosemary in this cake. While fresh is usually best, the flavor of fresh rosemary doesn’t degrade much when it’s dried. Can’t say the same about other herbs, like basil or thyme.
If you use dried rosemary, make sure to grind it well with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. No one wants a big piece of dried rosemary in a bite of cake.
The strawberry filling is super simple to make. You’ll just cook some fresh sliced strawberries on the stovetop with a bit of sugar and cornstarch. The cornstarch will help the juices thicken up, and the mixture will be ready in just a few minutes. Make sure to let it cool completely before using.
If you want to add more flavor to the filling, a spoonful of balsamic vinegar would be wonderful mixed into the strawberries.
I’d recommend storing the cake in the refrigerator because of the fresh strawberry filling. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before dessert time. This will allow the frosting and ganache to soften, and the cake to get to room temperature.
If you have cake leftover, you can freeze individual slices. Wrap them tightly in two layers of plastic wrap or other reusable wrap to prevent freezer burn. Don’t leave them in there TOO long though. Freezer cake is best eaten within 6 months of freezing. Save year old cake for your wedding anniversary.
🥗 Serving suggestions
Once the ganache is poured over the cake, it’s a looker on its own. But if you’d like to add a simple decoration, a sprig of rosemary on top looks pretty.
This cake would make the perfect dessert for an Italian or Italian inspired dinner. Here’s what to serve with olive oil cake:
Kale pesto pasta, a glass of wine, and this cake for dessert? Sign me up! This vegan kale pesto is made with kale instead of basil, and gets its savory flavor from cashew and pine nuts. It’s a great alternative to traditional pesto if you’re running low on basil, or when it’s not in season.
I like pesto, okay? This vegan lasagna is filled with pesto, roasted red peppers, and artichokes, but you can add any kind of vegetables you like.
Rosemary Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cups non-dairy milk
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped dried rosemary or 1 tablespoon fresh
- 1 cup strawberries sliced
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda in a mixing bowl.
- Add the sugar and salt and mix until combined.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
- Add the olive oil, non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla extract, and rosemary. Mix all ingredients well.
- Pour batter into two prepared 9-inch cake pans.
- Bake for 28-30 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let cakes cool before proceeding.
For the filling:
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Cook until the strawberries soften and the filling thickens, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes.
For the frosting:
- Whip vegan butter and shortening with a stand mixer or hand mixer until fluffy.
- Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing after each addition.
- Add the vanilla and non-dairy milk and whip until fluffy, 4-5 minutes.
For the chocolate ganache:
- Melt the chocolate and non-dairy milk in the microwave or a double boiler, stirring frequently.
- Let cool slightly before proceeding.
- Spoon the strawberry filling on top of one cake layer, then place the other layer on top.
- Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
- Pour the ganache on top of the cake, then let drip down the sides.
- Garnish with fresh rosemary, if desired.
- You can use fresh or dried rosemary for this recipe.
- If desired, stir 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar to the strawberry filling after removing from heat.