chocolate cake with pomegranate molasses

chocolate cake with pomegranate seeds and cream in a bowl with flowers

A rich, moist and gently fruity chocolate cake made with extra virgin olive oil and pomegranate molasses.  It’ll have you wondering why you’ve never tried the combination before. Perhaps because the right extra virgin olive oil hadn’t come along? Or the pomegranate molasses in your kitchen cupboard was too sweet? Paired with chocolate, these two stellar ingredients create an easy to make, heavenly dessert to celebrate an evening with loved ones

With friends for dinner who were gluten and lactose intolerant, we adapted a chocolate and olive oil cake recipe by Nigella Lawson. Instead of the vanilla essence, we wanted something fruitier, so added Zejd’s pomegranate molasses and sumac. We’ve been inspired by The Chocolate Tart, who has lead the way in pairing this tangy molasses with dark chocolate. As the recipe uses cocoa powder and hot water, this mixture blends easily with the tart molasses. Zejd’s EVOO isn’t as assertive as some Greek EVOOs, so the mixture is pleasantly fruity rather than raspingly so. Made with ground almonds, the resulting cake is moist with plenty of texture. Not a sweet cake, nor is it as rich as it looks. Just delicious in a very unassuming way.  

In April, we served the cake with a bowl of crisp, jewel-like pomegranate seeds. Not only do they go perfectly with the dense chocolate cake, but they are a reminder of the story of Persephone. The three pomegranate seeds she ate while in the underworld, result in months where little grows, according to the Greek myth. Once summer is underway, and Demeter, Goddess of agriculture, has waved her wand, raspberries or Japanese wineberries (if you grow them) would be wonderful alongside. 


50g good quality cocoa powder, Dutch processed if you can find it, sifted
120ml boiling water
2 tbsp Zejd pomegranate molasses
1 tsp Zejd sumac
150g ground almonds
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
200g unrefined caster sugar
3 eggs
150ml Zejd extra virgin olive oil

23/24 cm springform cake tin


  1. Grease a springform tin with a little olive oil (or an old butter wrapper if you’re not vegan) and line the base with grease proof paper.
  2. Sift the cocoa powder into a bowl and whisk as you add the boiling water until you have a smooth runny mixture. 
  3. Add the pomegranate molasses and sumac into the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. 
  4. In another bowl combine the ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda and salt mixing well. 
  5. Turn the oven on to 170 degrees/150 degrees fan/ gas mark 3. 
  6. Put the eggs, sugar and extra virgin olive oil into the bowl of a free standing mixer. Using a paddle attachment, beat on high speed for 3 minutes until the mixture has become a pale yellow colour and is the thickness of double cream.
  7. With the mixer on a lower speed add in the cocoa mixture. Then add the almonds in 2 parts.
  8. Pour the chocolatey batter into the prepared tin and place in the oven for 40-45 minutes. The cake is ready when the edges come away from the sides and the centre in still dark and soft looking. If you use a skewer or thin knife to test in the centre, there should be a few crumbs attached, and not completely clean. 
  9. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out. 

Crème fraîche, double cream, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, obviously not lactose friendly, are not obligatory but perfect companions to this glorious chocolate cake. 

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