The drier, colder weather is approaching, which means one thing for estheticians: dreaded dry skin. So what can we do about seasonal dehydration? Well, of course we can protect our skin with rich, nourishing face oils but moisturizing for the inside out is also important. Eating a more hydrating, Vata-pacifying dishes, such as warming soups and stews, help combat dry skin conditions but what about our desserts? Yes! Enter: chocolate olive oil cake. A foodie friend of mine sent me this recipe and while it looks delicious, of course the first thing I thought was “this’ll be great for skin!”.
Beautifying Olive Oil
Olive oil is loaded with omega-9, oleic acid along with a small dose of also omega 3. Oleic acid is excellent for moisturizing our skin. One reason is because our own sebum contains it. Furthermore, researchers think it provides a sterilizing effect with our own natural facial oil secretions. Oleic acid is also full of healthy cholesterol that helps lower harmful cholesterols in our blood as well as it helps to stabilize blood sugar (see my post on how healthy blood sugar combats sensitive skin!). More on the anti-inflammatory powers of oleic acid, studies suggest that one of its components, oleocanthal, has ibuprofen like ant-inflammatory activities!
But beyond oleic acid, olive oil contains a lot of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that also maintains the integrity of our cell membranes of our skin, protecting it from free radical damage.
Let Us Eat Cake!
The recipe itself is Nigella Lawson’s (and have you seen her skin?! Beautiful.) I think my pal sent it to me because it’s gluten-free and dairy-free, which is a great bonus! Being me, I couldn’t help but make a few changes: first, I ground my own cocoa from Panamanian Cacao beans instead of just using cocoa powder. I was lucky enough to have been gifted amazing cacao pods from a nutritionist friend that lives in Panama.
It gave the cake a really delicious, bold flavor – and I think also made it more healthy energetically. Call me crazy but I believe that the less processing and getting it straight-from the source increases the “vitality” of ingredients and makes a real difference. Second, I used coconut sugar instead of caster sugar so it was lower in glycemic index. We want to indulge but not that much!
So, if you want a yummy, uber nourishing sweet treat try this chocolate cake! Get ready to moisturize your skin inside out!
⅔ cup regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (sifted)…I ground my cacao beans
½ cup boiling water
2 teaspoons best vanilla extract
1 ½ cups almond meal
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch of salt
1 cup coconut sugar
3 large eggs
1. Preheat your oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/325ºF. Grease a 9inch springform tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.
2. Measure and sift the cocoa powder (I ground my cacao pods in my vitamix) into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny (but only just) paste.
3. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then set aside to cool a little.
4. In another smallish bowl, combine the ground almonds (almond meal – again, something you can do in a vitamix) with the bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt.
5. Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into the bowl of a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment (or other bowl and whisk arrangement of your choice) and beat together vigorously for about 3 minutes until you have a thickened cream.
6. Turn the speed down a little and pour in the cocoa mixture, beating as you go, and when all is scraped in you can slowly tip in the ground almond (or flour) mixture.
7. Scrape down, and stir a little with a spatula, then pour this dark, liquid batter into the prepared tin.
8. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp.
9. Leave to cool completely or eat while still warm (after letting it sit for at least 10 minutes)!