Chocolate Olive-Oil Cake

This super-moist chocolate cake made with olive oil and frosted with a cinnamon-flavored topping makes a perfect ending to a Valentine’s Day dinner.

Be creative, and make it in a heart-shaped pan or in cupcake form.

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
6 tablespoons baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3/4 cup extra-light olive oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 cups cold water
28-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
3½cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon oil or 1 tablespoon almond extract
Crystallized white sugar for sprinkling on top

1. Lightly oil a 9-inch-by-2-inch cake pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Mix the flour, white sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. With a hand mixer on low speed, beat in the olive oil, vinegar, vanilla and water until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Do not over-bake. The cake should be firm to the touch.

4. Place the cake pan on a cooling rack, and allow it to come to room temperature before removing the cake from the pan to cool completely.

5. For the frosting, beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth; gradually add in enough of the confectioners’ sugar to make a smooth frosting that is not runny. Stir in the cinnamon oil or the almond extract.

6. When the cake is cool, frost it and sprinkle the crystallized sugar over the top. (Or if you are making cupcakes, frost them and sprinkle the tops with the crystallized sugar.) Cut the cake into wedges to serve.