Blood Orange Chocolate Cake

Last week, I was invited to the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition.  This year we judged the Northern and Southern Hemispheres together.  I don’t think it works well for the Southern Hemisphere since they are about to harvest their olives at the end of this month, April and May.  So, their oils were in fact last year’s and they were competing with the Northern Hemisphere’s fresh oils.  I’m hoping that will change.  I know our chairman of the competition, Darrell Corti, will try his best to remediate the situation.

Judging in the L.A. International is such an honor.  I sat at table number six with two highly experienced and well-renowned judges, Toshi Suzuki, from Japan and Maria Lourdes Toujas, from Argentina.

We tasted about 50 oils a day from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.  We would eat lunch together and then had the afternoon free.  I would go to my room, read, do a Sudoku and sometimes nap.  At 6:00 we would gather again for dinner.  The dinners were exquisite.  Every night there was great food and wine.  I was offered a taste of a 1957 Port, a dry Vermouth that was outrageously good, a Muscat from Australia that is extremely rare, and two New Zealand wines that only grown in that country.  What an experience!

As with all wonderful meals, besides the great food and libations, it was the company of the fellow judges that made these experiences so wonderful.  I was surrounded by judges from all over the world, many who I had met last year and a few new ones this year.  We had five judges from Sacramento, whom I have been on sensory panels before.  The others were from Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia and Japan.  Conversations covered everything from olives to family and life at home.

Margaret Edwards, from New Zealand, is a producer and has been an international judge for a good number of years.  She is such a lovely person.  We got to talking about recipes and she told me about her Mandarin Chocolate Cake made with olive oil, of course.  She sent me the recipe and I wanted to try it out for this posting.  She writes on the top of the recipe that it is a very easy cake to make.  The ingredients and instructions support that claim.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have some of the ingredients, namely, mandarin infused olive oil and ground almonds.  A substitute for mandarin olive oil is the grated peel of a mandarin and plain olive oil.  So, I thought to do that.  I went to the grocery store with a list of things, I bought two mandarins but forgot the almond meal.  Margaret’s cake is gluten-free.  Do you do that, bring a list to the grocery store and still forget some items?  When I got home and I found that I didn’t have a main ingredient, I looked in the pantry and saw that I had a bit of Blood Orange-Infused Olive Oil.  I had four blood oranges left on the tree.  I decided to find a nice blood orange chocolate cake.   this recipe is a little more complicated than Margaret’s.  The candied oranges were delicious but the syrup was very sweet.  I poured the syrup over the the frosting but I think next time I would just drizzle a bit on each piece.  I got the recipe for the cake from Temecula Olive Oil.  The recipe is not well-written but not difficult to figure out.  The Blood Orange Buttercream, I figured out on my own.


2 cup Unbleached Flour

2 cups Sugar

3/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 tsp. Baking Powder

1 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Expresso Powder

1 cup Milk

1/2 cup Blood Orange Olive Oil

2 Eggs

1 Blood Orange Zest

2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 cup Boiling Water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

Add Flour, Sugar, Cocoa, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Espresso Powder in a large mixer bowl and stir with paddle attachment until well combined.

Add Milk, Olive Oil, Eggs, Zest, and Vanilla to flour mixture and mix on medium speed until well combined.


Reduce speed and add Boiling Water to the cake batter.  Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to batter.

Pour batter evenly into the two cake pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and completely cool.  Frost.


1/4 cup Softened Unsalted Butter

1 lb. Confectioner’s Sugar

Juice 1 Blood Orange (1/4 cup)

2 Tbsp. Cream

1 tsp. Salt

Zest of 1 Blood Orange (2 Tbsp.)

For Candied Oranges (optional):

2 Peeled and thinly sliced Blood Oranges

1 cup Sugar

3/4 cup Water

While cake cools, place Sugar and Water in a small pot and boil.  Add Oranges and boil on medium to low for 20 minutes.  Take Oranges out and place on a silk-at or parchment paper to cool.

For Frosting, place Butter, Confectioner’s Sugar, Orange Juice, Cream, Salt and Zest in large mixer bowl.


With whisk attachment, whisk until incorporated.  Frost cake and decorate with Candied Oranges.





Baker, not quite

I have been noticing that a lot of my friends and acquaintances have been thinking that I am a baker.  I really consider myself more of a cook than a baker.  I’m baking so much now because I discovered the joy of using olive oil in baked goods.  I’ve always cooked with olive oil but this is very new to me and I’m enjoying the exploration.

I’ve often mentioned that my mom had a wonderful hand with pastries and desserts.  Mom never slept more than three hours every night.  This would allow her to bake in the mornings while everyone else slept.  It didn’t make her happy.  She always wished she could sleep longer and this was often our morning topic of conversation.  If she wasn’t shopping in the afternoons, she would also bake then, while I was in school.  So the delicious pastries and breads showed up out of no where.  I never saw her make any.  She was also a great cook but that’s another post.

I grew up having cleaning chores but never had much to do in the kitchen besides the dishes.  I do remember going through mom’s cookbooks and ogling the pictures.  There were a few times where I did create a dish or two.  I remember making tuna sandwiches. Tuna sandwiches are a sensitive topic with me.  When I was in school, I often had them for lunch.  Mom would make my sandwiches but in Argentina, they don’t make tuna salad.  So my sandwiches consisted of bread smeared with a little mayonnaise and chunks of tuna in the middle.  I was teased every time I ate one.  The kids would say that I was eating cat food and laughed at me.  When I was 8 or 9, I had tried tuna sandwiches at friends’ houses and wanted to duplicate them but I didn’t know how.  I made lunch for my parents one day.  Tuna Salad Sandwiches were on the menu.  I tried to duplicate the crunchy and sweetness of “American” tuna sandwiches with what I could find in the pantry.  Resourcefully, the sandwich filling became tuna mixed with mayo, chopped walnuts and raisins.  It wasn’t bad.  My parents smiled as they ate them.  I ate those at home for years. That was the first recipe that I ever created.

I caught some flu bug a few weeks ago and found myself sitting on the couch watching daytime TV.  I seldom have the TV on during the day but I was not feeling well enough to even read.  You can imagine what I watched, that’s right, mostly cooking shows.  I cannot believe the garbage that they are promoting on these shows.  I wasn’t watching the food channels, not shows like the Barefoot Contessa or anything.  I was watching, well, I ‘m not going to name them, but the popular shows on the regular stations.  I was appalled at the disregard for the nutritional content in the recipes.   These weren’t desserts or treats.  They were showing main dishes. Ooey, gooey cheese, butter, tremendous amounts of carbs were everywhere.  I’m all for fats.  I love my cheese.  But these recipes had little to no value to them.  I’m sure they tasted great but …

Today, I’ve posted a coffeecake.  It’s not low in calories but I think it has many wholesome ingredients that makes having this treat on a weekend morning worth it.  The chocolate chips sink to the bottom giving almost a crust on the bottom.  I would make this for my son to entice him to get out of bed and ready for school.  It helps getting dressed quickly when the house smells yummy.  I hope you will agree.


2 Eggs

1 3/4 Unbleached Flour

1/2 cup Chocolate Chips

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1 3/4 cup Plain Yogurt

1 cup Sugar

3 Tbls. Olive Oil



1/2 cup of chopped Almonds


1/3 cup Brown Sugar

1 tsp. Cinnamon




Grease a 13 x 9 pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir Yogurt and Baking Soda in a bowl.

In another bowl beat Eggs and Sugar until light yellow and fluffy.

Sift Flour and Baking Powder into Egg mixture and blend.

Fold in Yogurt and Chocolate Chips and smooth.  Pour into pan.

Mix Almonds, Brown Sugar and Cinnamon.

Sprinkle over coffeecake.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until an inserted toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Until next time, eat well, drink well and live well.

Truffles with Olive Oil?

I made these truffles for my friends on Valentine’s Day this year.  A group of us were meeting a few days before the 14th.  Since we only meet once a month, we celebrate whatever holiday is at hand.  I thought of making three different truffles.  The first one is my Dulce de Leche Ginger Truffle.  You can search for that recipe on the blog.  That is my own concoction.  The second one is an Orange Olive Oil Recipe.  I thought of this one, after I tasted some infused olive oils and bought one.  I don’t usually have infused oils in my pantry but so many people ask me about them, which makes me realize that a lot of you have them in your pantry.  So, I thought I would give you a sweet recipe for those oils.  The last one is a Dulce de Leche Chocolate Truffle.  My cousins in Argentina taught me this one.  I just added the chocolate coating.  Speaking of the chocolate coating, I cheat with this.  I use Ghiardelli or Guittard chocolate and I don’t temper my chocolate.  I just mix it with coconut oil or dulce de leche.  If I were entering a competition, then I would go through the trouble of tempering it.  Most people can’t tell the difference.

Do you remember those days in school in when we gave each classmate a Valentine?  My family never celebrated Valentine’s Day at home.  It just isn’t in the Argentine culture.  But one year, I did make a Valentine for my mom.  I think I was probably 10 years old.  Do you remember Sucrets lozenges?  (I keep dating myself with these stories.)  They came in little tins like Altoids do now.  I took a thick piece of paper.  Then applied bright pink lipstick and kissed it.  It took awhile to get my lips to imprint something that looked like a kiss.  I wrote  “I love you, Mom” on it.  Then I wrapped the little tin in some flowery contact paper and placed the note inside.  She still kept it through the years.  I came across it while going through her things after she had passed.  I’ve done the same with some cards and notes from my kids.  I like to keep them handy for when I need an extra boost, I can read them and remember that I am surrounded by a lot of love.

I hope you will love these truffles.  They are so simple to make.  Please give them a try and let me know how it goes.  I always love seeing your pictures, so pass them along to me.

Dark Chocolate Orange Truffles


8 oz. good quality Dark Chocolate (60%+)

1/2 cup Cream

1/4 cup Orange-infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Lemon-infused or any flavor you like can be used)

Confectioner’s Sugar for rolling.

See below for Chocolate Coating.

Place Dark Chocolate with Cream in a bowl.

 Place bowl over a pot with simmering water.  Make sure the bowl does not touch the water.

 Whisk gently until Chocolate is melted.  Take bowl off the pot and whisk Olive Oil in gently.  Pour mixture into a pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Prepare a cookie sheet with wax paper or a silk pat.  When Chocolate is ready, take out and use a melon baller to scoop Chocolate.

Coat hands with confectioner’s sugar to roll truffle.  Place on cookie sheet and repeat.

Once all the truffles are made, refrigerate 1 hour.  Then coat.

Dulce de Leche Chocolate Truffles

1/2 cup Dulce de Leche

20 Chocolate Wafer Cookies

Confectioner’s Sugar for rolling

See Chocolate Coating below.

Prepare a cookie sheet with wax paper or a silk pat.  Set aside.  With a food processor or ziploc bag and roller, crumble Chocolate Wafer Cookies into fine crumbs.  Place 1 cup of Cookie Crumbles 🙂 and 1/2 cup Dulce de Leche into a bowl and combine..

Place some Confectioner’s Sugar in a bowl.  With a melon baller, scoop some of the truffle and roll in the Sugar.  Place on cookie sheet.

Refrigerate for 10 minutes and coat.


There are many ways to finish truffles.  Here are a few:

-Place 1 cup of Chocolate in a double boiler and melt.  Dip the truffle with forks and place back onto cookie sheet.  Refrigerate 10 minutes until chocolate is set.

-Place 1 cup of Chocolate with 1/2 cup of Dulce de Leche in a double boiler. Use White, Dark, or Milk Chocolate.   Whisk gently until Chocolate has melted and Dulce de Leche is incorporated.  Dip truffle with forks and place back onto cookie sheet.  Refrigerate 10 minutes until Chocolate is set.

-Place 1 cup of Chocolate with 1/4 Coconut Oil in a double boiler.  Whisk gently until Chocolate has melted and Coconut Oil is incorporated.   Dip truffle with forks and place back onto cookie sheet.  Refrigerate 10 minutes until Chocolate is set.

-You can always coat with Confectioner’s Sugar only or Cocoa.  There are many other things you can add:  Chopped Almonds, Sweetened Coconut, Sprinkles, etc.  Use your imagination.

Make sure to add 1 cup of Chocolate to your shopping list and whatever other ingredient you would like to use for your chocolate coating.

These recipes are easy and fun.  Definitely a recipe to try with a young child who doesn’t mind getting his/her hands dirty.

Until next time, eat well, drink well, live well.


Olive Oil Oatmeal Cookies

I’m really excited to share with you this Cookie recipe.  I found this Olive Oil Cookie recipe in a magazine that my local supermarket puts out monthly.  It was contributed by California Olive Ranch.  Those who have been to my Olive Oil Tasting Events, know that I often promote that EVOO when asked for a generally good and inexpensive oil.  I believe that the California Olive Ranch brand will always offer a product that can be labelled Extra Virgin and free from defects and that is reasonably priced.  Is it my favorite oil?  No, but it is a good every day olive oil and easily accessible.  Most markets carry it.  It comes in a square, green bottle.  It isn’t a very strong tasting oil and can be used for any purpose in your recipes.

Ok, well, back to the cookie recipe.  I have never heard of a cookie made with olive oil.  I haven’t really looked either.  Do you enjoy experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen?  I love to look at a recipe and try it, especially when I’m having people over.  My guests are my Guinea Pigs and they know it.  I will always make one or two dishes that I have never tried before when there is company.  It usually works out but it has failed occasionally.  What saves me is that I cook a lot of food.  I always want my guests to be able to have seconds if they like it and never run out of food.  This tradition of experimentation came out of need.  You see, my husband was pretty picky about food.  He only ate spinach, lettuce, corn and potatoes for veggies.  He wasn’t much for casseroles, neither am I.  And he didn’t like his food mixed together.  I have to admit that I had some of those issues.  I remember when I was in Catholic school.  The Eighth Graders were in charge of the First Graders in the cafeteria.  Their job was to help us eat our lunch.  I don’t think they enjoyed it that much.  I just remember them kind of barking out orders for us to finish our food.  Once we were done, they were freed of their responsibility.  So, they would tell us to eat one “compartment” of food at time.  We had those dishes that are like T.V. dinner trays.  The plan was to get us all to finish fast and be done with us.  Eat your peas, they would tell us.  Now, eat your mashed potatoes or whatever and we little ones would do as they said.  I ate like that for many years later.  Anyone else had the same experience?

Ok, well, back to the cookie recipe.  I like the taste of butter in certain baked goods.  Banana Bread is awesome made with olive oil and yet, I prefer the buttery taste of one made traditionally.  If you are looking for a good Banana Bread recipe, search for Aunt Grace’s Banana Bread on my blog.  I think it’s simple and delicious.  I generally don’t care for cookies.  I think they are a lot of trouble, especially if you have to frost or decorate them.  That’s why I’m drawn to brownies or bar cookies.  You put the batter in a pan and cut them into bars after baking.  I must say though that this Olive Oil Oatmeal Cookie is an easy recipe and you can substitute the chocolate chips for dried cherries or raisins.  I really like the white chocolate chips.  It gave the cookies a bit of a butterscotch flavor to them.  You be the judge.


1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 cup packed Brown Sugar

1 Tbsp. Vanilla Extract

2 Eggs

1 cup Unbleached Flour

1 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp. Salt

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves

4 cups Rolled Oats

1 cup White Chocolate Chips

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  (If you have never worked with parchment paper, search for the Yogurt, Olive Oil and Pistachio Cake recipe and look for the TIPS below the recipe.)  I used a Silpat.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together Flour, Cinnamon, Salt, Baking Soda and Cloves.

In a separate large bowl, whisk Olive Oil, Brown Sugar, Vanilla and Eggs until blended.

Add Flour mixture, Oats, and White Chocolate Chips to Olive Oil mixture and blend well.

Drop in balls (I used an ice cream scoop.) on the cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Let cool on pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to rack.

Makes 30 cookies.  Each having 203 Calories, 10 g. Fat, 25 g. Carbs, 2.7 g. Protein.

We’ve been having cold and rainy days around here.  I listened to Louie Armstrong while I baked these.  His music just puts a smile on my face and a jig in my step.

Eat well, drink well, live well, until next time.


Do you do anything for Super Bowl Sunday?  Around here, we celebrate it as if it were a holiday.  My husband would take the kids out to do the grocery shopping.  Have I ever told you that my husband would always do the grocery shopping?  He wasn’t always good at it. It was hard for him to remember that a soft eggplant is too ripe but a hard peach is too green.  He wasn’t much interested in fruits or vegetables but come Super Bowl Sunday he would go all out.  So the kids loved it as they would go aisle after aisle tossing in the cart whatever suited their fancy.  There were no restrictions.  All the treats that were usually not available at the house were invited to watch the football game with us.  Sometimes we would have human guests and sometimes not.  We never had a big T.V. but people would still come over to watch the game and celebrate it with us.

Now, I’m not much of a football fanatic.  In fact, I don’t follow it at all but I like having people over.  After a 40 hour work week and cleaning the house for guests, it’s always really hard for me to prepare food.  I’m usually exhausted.  That’s why I’m always looking for make ahead recipes for company.  If you have been following me for a while, I’m sure you have gathered that I like to cook from scratch.  I’m not one for processed foods.  It can be an arduous task to make everything from fresh and good ingredients.  Super Bowl Sunday is not a day for that.  The house is usually full of processed foods already.  I like to make Make-Ahead Pizza Rolls with store bought dough, which makes it so much faster and convenient.  The recipe is on the blog just search for it.  This recipe is also a roll but more like a sandwich.  It uses store bought bread dough.  You could substitute it for homemade if you have the time.  I use the traditional fillings of mozzarella, ham and salami but you could change that to suit your taste.  Make this a few days ahead, wrap it in foil and refrigerate it.  Then stick it in an 350º oven for 15-20 minutes to reheat.  Or spend 20 minutes the day of and bake for 30 minutes and serve.

It’s fun and easy.  You make 12 servings with this recipe.  All you do is roll up the ingredients in the two loaves of bread and bake.  Then it’s TA-DA!  Sandwiches for everyone.  It’s yummy and fun to eat.


2 – 1lb. loaves Frozen White Bread Dough (I used Bridgford), thaw according to directions

1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella Cheese

8 oz. thinly sliced Ham

8 oz. thinly sliced Salami

1/2 cup chopped Parsley

1 Egg for egg wash


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie or jelly roll sheet with parchment paper. If you have never worked with parchment paper, check out my tips on the Celebration Cake post.  I used a silpat.  Coat with non-stick spray.  (No need if you are using a silpat.)

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one Bread Dough Loaf into a 14 x 10 inch rectangle.

Sprinkle Dough with 1/4 cup Mozzarella, leaving 1/2 inch border all around.

Layer 1/2 of the Ham slices overlapping, still leaving the 1/2 inch border.

Top with another 1/4 cup Mozzarella.  Layer 1/2 of the Salami slices overlapping.

Press gently.  Sprinkle 1/2 of the Parsley and 1/4 cup Mozzarella.

Tightly roll up from the long side.  Pinch the seams and ends to seal.  Place on the baking sheet seam side down.  Repeat with the second loaf.  Place 4 inches apart.  Brush with egg wash consisting of 1 Egg and 1 tsp. Water slightly beaten.  Cut 3 slits on top of each loaf.

Bake for 30 minutes or until tops are brown.  Let cool. Slice and serve warm.


Each serving contains 361 Calories, 17g. Protein, 37g. Carbs, 2g. fiber, 16g. Fat.

Eat well, drink well, and live well.  Until next time.