Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Olive oil brownies

I stumbled upon a recent post on The Traveler's Lunchbox about a new Italian cookbook that features a recipe for brownies made with olive oil rather than butter. I was immediately intrigued – not only because the cookbook itself got a rave review, but also because one of my favorite cake recipes is Mario Batali’s zucchini olive oil cake, also made with olive oil rather than butter. The zucchini olive oil cake is light and airy, and has a subtle fruitiness that you would never imagine comes from olive oil. It is truly a secret ingredient.

The brownie recipe comes from Faith Heller Willinger’s new cookbook, Adventures of an Italian Food Lover. Olive oil and chocolate struck me as a particularly nice combination. I had to try the brownies. Luckily a family dinner presented an excuse for baking.

The recipe was quick and simple and delivered a moist batter that did not disappoint (well, I was not disappointed). I particularly loved the salt in the recipe which seemed to stand out against the chocolate much more than it would have had the brownies been laden with butter. Interestingly, half of the guests at the dinner loved the brownies for their moist non-cake-y texture and the other half lamented the richness of butter, and felt the chocolate was somehow not quite chocolate-y enough. Argh! I loved them and I’d happily make them again (skipping the nuts which I always feel are just in the way). I am also intrigued by Faith’s cookbook and have it squarely on my wish list.

Olive oil brownies (all text that follows reprinted verbatim from the Traveler's Lunchbox)

: adapted from Adventures of an Italian Food Lover by Faith Heller Willinger

4 ounces (115g) finest quality bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), chopped
1/3 cup (80ml) fruity extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (70g) all-purpose/plain flour (Faith prefers using a soft flour like Italian type 00 or White Lily; if you go this route add an extra tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) superfine/caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (70g) lightly toasted hazelnuts, chopped (Faith uses walnuts)
whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Line an 8-inch (20cm) square baking pan with a lightly oiled and floured piece of parchment paper that overhangs the pan on two sides (this aids in removal later).

Melt the chocolate over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave and whisk in the oil. Let cool.

Mix the flour and salt together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until pale, thickened and billowy, about five minutes. Fold in the vanilla and the cooled chocolate mixture, then fold in the flour and optional nuts, stirring just until everything is combined. Pour into the prepared pan and distribute evenly.

Bake for 22-26 minutes (note from the Traveler's Lunchbox: I would recommend checking earlier to avoid over-baking - mine were just on the verge after 22 minutes). The top will be dry and crackly, though a toothpick inserted in the center should emerge still a little wet. Cool completely, then cut into squares. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.


Anonymous said...

Now that's what I call a brownie! They look almost too good to eat, and since they're made with olive oil I could almost convince myself that they are. Beautiful image.

Anonymous said...

As a brownie connoisseur, I feel obligated to try them and to weigh in on the debate. They look beautiful indeed, but I am a fan of the dense brownie. I will try them and get back to you! It is a very nice twist, though, on a traditional recipe.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Yummy, yummy - great for the tummy -
Your photo is certainly one of the best,
I want to put these brownies to the test.
Your recipe sounds so easy to do
I'll have to try them - thanks to YOU!

Anonymous said...

Did you tell the dinner guests about the olive oil instead of the butter before they ate them? That might have biased the butter-lovers in the group. These look so good I will have to try them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! Martha: yes, I did tell them (proudly as I thought olive oil was an inventive ingredient!) so it could have biased them. If any of you try the recipe, let me know what you think!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those brownies look gorgeous! I bet they taste wonderful...



Helene said...

I have mad ethem so many times since I got the book. They have become a new favorites. They are fudgy and dense. Just wonderful!

Anonymous said...

We made these the other night. I really like the crackly crust and the texture is interesting. I wouldn't call it dense, I would call it light and crumbly. They were good but maybe not what you'd want in a brownie every single time. Sometimes you want dense and fudgy, no?

Sabra said...

You guys are funny! Wonder who "M" is - Martha? Mom? Mary? I agree, M, light and airy - and also agree not what you would want all the time. Although, I myself am not a huge brownie girl (more of a blondie girl), precisely because I find typical brownies so dense and heavy I OD on them quickly. Would love a good blondie recipe!

Marianna said...

wow, that is very interesting! olive oil brownies... !!

Deeba PAB said...

Made these a couple of days ago & they turned out great! Thanks for posting such a wonderful recipe! Cheers Deeba

Anonymous said...

I made these tonight and am in love! I added a bit more salt, and walnuts... delish!

Brownie Pan said...

Yes I have to agree with you the olive oil and the coca actually did represent a good combination.

Unknown said...

I found this recipe when I was out of butter but wanted to make something chocolatey. This is the only brownie recipe I use now! I LOVE the texture and appreciate how simple they are to make.

Rebecca said...

I'm commenting years after this post was originally added--that's how much I like this recipe. I used white whole wheat flour and added a tablespoon or so of molasses (that's my go-to addition when I'm using whole wheat in a recipe that calls for regular flour). These brownies are *spectacular*--easily my new favorite recipe. And I've tried an awful lot of brownie recipes =)

Post a Comment

Thank you for submitting a comment. I love, love reading your comments - they motivate and inspire me. Typically I try to come back and respond to your comment. Forgive me if occasionally I don't. Thanks for dropping by! (p.s. please don't leave marketing messages here)