blood orange olive oil cake

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Is anyone else ready for a vacation? I want pool time and cocktails and sleeping in. All at once. Oh, the things I would do for a break right now. Even just for a weekend. I think we need to do some prioritizing around here to make this happen. I’m ready to bust out the resort wear.         

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The good news is we have cake. And this cake, my friends, is a keeper. For the past three years, I’ve been on a search for the perfect blood orange cake. I’m not even exaggerating. It has taken me years and lots of experimenting to find one I really like. Every winter, during the small window of time that is blood orange season, I try at least one blood orange cake recipe. I’ve tried at least four recipes, possibly more,  some more than once. One recipe called for orange segments, one recipe called for whole oranges, skin and all. Another was a sort of chiffon cake. A few of them were pretty good. None of them were outstanding.

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I’m happy to report that the search has finally come to an end. I’d been hoping to find a recipe that incorporated both oranges and olive oil. And out of practically nowhere, I found exactly what I had been looking for.

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Here’s what I love about this cake:

It has a pronounced orange flavor, both in the cake and the icing. The cake has the essence of blood orange from the grated zest and juice. And the icing, with it’s tart, berry-ness is perfection.  

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Thanks to the olive oil, it is incredibly moist and has a very distinct, almost savory flavor. 

It’s such a pretty thang. I’ve got a secret weakness for pink frosting, and the bold color of the blood orange juice produces an electric pink icing when added to a scoop of powdered sugar.  And it’s totally natural. AND we’re just in time for Valentine’s Day. A pink glazed cake is the perfect alternative to chocolate on V-Day. xoxo.

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blood orange olive oil cake

adapted from Leite’s Culinaria

serves 12-14

2 tablespoons unsalted butter for pan 

6-8  blood oranges

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

5 large eggs

2-3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 -1/2 cups mild extra-virgin olive oil

 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

4 tablespoons blood orange juice 

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above, and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Coat a 12-cup Bundt or tube pan with butter and dust with flour.  Set aside.

Finely grate the zest of 4 of the oranges, then squeeze 6 of them. You should have 1-1/2 cups of juice; if not, squeeze another orange. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs on medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the granulated sugar and continue beating until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. On low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and oil, starting and ending with the flour, and beat until just a few wisps of flour remain. Pour in the orange juice and zest and whirl for a few seconds to bring the batter together.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. If the top is browning too much as the cake bakes, cover lightly with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.

Turn the cake out onto the rack and cool completely. Place it in a covered cake stand and let it sit overnight.

In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons of blood orange juice. Whisk until completely smooth and has reached a thick but pourable consistency, similar to that of honey. Add more powdered sugar or juice if necessary. Pour the mixture over the cake and let set.

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chocolate ice cream with pumpkin seed brittle (and olive oil and sea salt)

I thought you all might want something sweet for Valentine’s Day. Oh, Valentine’s Day. I like Valentine’s Day because it’s a free pass to eat chocolate. I used to make truffles for Valentine’s Day. But I got a little lazy this year and thought ice cream would be better. Because you can make it in advance. And who doesn’t love ice cream?

I’ll let you in on a little secret – I very rarely crave ice cream. If ice cream is nearby, like if I happen to be in a certain neighborhood and I pass a certain ice creamery, I wont say no. But I typically don’t buy it at the market or keep it stocked in my freezer. Of course, now that I’m the proud owner of an ice cream maker, I don’t really have to. In case you were wondering, an ice cream maker is a sure way to get yourself into some dietary trouble.

So, back to chocolate ice cream. This one is great. It’s custard based so it’s rich but somehow sort of light at the same time.  And perfectly chocolatey (use the best chocolate and cocoa you can get your hands on). It’s really nice on its own. But it’s even more fantastic topped with a few hunks of pumpkin seed brittle. And a drizzle of olive oil. And a sprinkle of coarse sea salt. Get ready to fall in love. xo.

chocolate ice cream with pumpkin seed brittle (and olive oil and sea salt)

from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

makes 1 about quart

2 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

pinch of salt

5 large egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pumpkin seed brittle (see recipe below)

extra virgin olive oil, for garnish (I like Stonehouse Olive Oil)

coarse sea salt, for garnish  (I like Maldon or fleur de sel is nice, too)

In a medium saucepan, whisk the cocoa powder into 1 cup of cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

Prepare an ice bath in a bowl/basin large enough to hold your mixing bowl.

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the warmed egg yolks into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Place in the ice bath and stir until cool.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

pumpkin seed brittle

adapted from MarthaStewart.com

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup pepitas

Line an 11×17-inch rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar and honey. Bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until mixture is medium amber and a candy thermometer registers 280°F, about 6 minutes. Stir in pumpkin seeds. Cook until mixture reaches 300°F, about 2 minutes. Pour onto prepared baking sheet. Let cool completely. Break into pieces.