Flourless Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Cardamom, Pears and Hazelnuts

This post is sponsored by California Olive Ranch. Seattle is a place made up of many grays. There’s the marble gray of early morning in Winter that bears down on you like a wool blanket. The blueish gray of low-lying stratus, like a sheer gauze that gives way to glimmers of sunlight as the day progresses. The chalk-gray, a white sheet that softens the edges of the city, erases shadows. The green gray of warm stormy days, accompanied by a side-kick of salt-mists that breathe down the streets. The slate gray of evening, dank charcoal clouds wrangling early sunset. There’s the rare day of sun and cumulus; puffy coifs that swim across the sky, their gray only visible at shifting seams of cream-white, and then more silver than anything.

In mid November I spent a few days there, in Seattle, with my friend Sasha of Tending the Table.  I barely got out into the city for more than a few hours. My trip was only four days. I spent most of my time living the homebody life with Sasha, making beautiful meals and doing yoga and developing a fabulous flourless chocolate cake recipe. Still, that low pressure system that lives over the city made its mark on me. I see why people bathe in coffee there. The gray is like a living thing. A force that wanders like a lonesome fisherman: silent, melancholy, constant.

I grew up around water, and my family has more than its fair share of Navy officers. I have a familial and friendly attraction to brackish places. But every watery place I’ve ever lived owned its fair portion of sunny days. Seattle by comparison seems a place where the word “gloomy” has 100 shades of its own. The perfect place to spawn grunge and American coffee culture.

Not surprisingly, Sasha and I spent most of our time together simply talking. Talking while walking along the coast line. Talking while sipping tea lattes. Talking while playing with her pups. Talking while eating tacos (Sasha makes amazing vegetarian tacos!).

It never crossed my mind when I started blogging that it would become a career. So naturally I never realized that I would end up in a career that is so isolated, even lonely. Mostly I love the pure, golden stillness that comes with working solo. It allows deep creativity to happen uninterrupted. But as an ambivert I crave connection and the joy of creating in tandem with an equal force. It’s so easy to get in a loop of my own style and approach to food and photography. I have the most fun blogging when I’m collaborating, bouncing the sparkle of two (or more!) imaginations back and forth. Working with Sasha was a much needed infusion of fresh energy.

So, what happens when you pair a whimsical fairy (me) with a natural minimalist forest elf (Sasha) and then throw in a whole lot of really good olive oil and a craving for chocolate cake? Flourless Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Cardamom, Pears and Hazelnuts! 

Our goal for this was to create a classic flourless chocolate cake (or “torte”) that was healthy and decadent. Sasha and I are both really attracted to balance and contrast in our recipes. So of course we couldn't just do a simple flourless chocolate cake. We had to do a next level version!

The cake itself is a twist on a classic recipe, wherein you melt chocolate and butter together then mix with almond meal, sugar and egg yolks, finally folding in whipped egg whites before baking.

Instead of using butter we used California Olive Ranch Arbosana Olive Oil, a buttery and nutty oil that’s ideal paired with desserts (chocolate in particular). We used coconut sugar instead of refined sugar, so it’s sweet-but-not-too-sweet (and significantly lower glycemic). We added cardamom to the batter for a slightly Scandinavian feel.

Pears get layered over top and become meltingly soft as the cake bakes, their juicy floral flavor contrasting the dark chocolate and buttery olive oil. And for crunch we sprinkled roughly chopped hazelnuts over top.

The result is a luscious, rich cake that’s totally crowd pleasing and somehow pretty dang good for you! Now that’s my kind of dessert.

On this page you'll find the cake ingredients. Print those out, then head over to Tending the Table for the directions!

This post is sponsored by California Olive Ranch. All opinions and words are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this site. 

Flourless Chocolate Olive Oil Cake with Pears, Hazelnuts, Cardamom




Yield 1 9" cake

Developed in partnership with Sasha of Tending the Table. Check out her incarnation of this recipe here!


  • ¾ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • ⅔ cup California Olive Ranch Arbosana Olive Oil
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup almond meal
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 Anjou pears, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment. Grease the pan lightly with olive oil.
  3. In a double boiler set over simmering water, melt the chocolate. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, coconut sugar, almond meal, egg yolks, vanilla, salt and cardamom. Stir well to combine. Once the chocolate is melted add it to the bowl and mix to combine.
  4. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  5. Fold the egg whites into the batter until completely incorporated and smooth.
  6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Arrange the sliced pears on top and sprinkle with the chopped hazelnuts.
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly clean.
  8. Allow to cool before serving.

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