My mother speaks the language of flowers. Put a few fresh stems in her hands, and her eyes will light up behind her lashes like the morning sun – warm and sparkling between tall slender blades of grass. “Orchids like to talk to one another, so you have to listen to their conversation and find out who’s speaking to who”, she once told me.

I don’t speak flowers, ___ I don’t need to in order to see their beauty.

I speak Mandarin, French, and English, ___ Canada is home. My grandmother says girls should not be muscular, ___ I run marathons. I’m an actuarial analyst, ___ art comes naturally. My mother allows the men in our family to speak over her, ___ I scrutinize every word. I love Christ, ___ my best friends do not.

If I asked you if I am an artist, could you answer? Sure you could. Whether you chose to insert “and” or “but” into the above statements doesn’t change who I am or what I do. Your choice reflects you and only you. How would you rather choose?

If one gives an answer

before he hears,

it is his folly and shame.

Proverbs 18:13

Espresso Olive Oil Chocolate Cake with 70% Ganache, Pinot Noir Salt, and Honeycomb
Espresso Olive Oil Chocolate Cake with 70% Ganache, Merlot Salt, and Honeycomb

Espresso Olive Oil Chocolate Cake with 70% Ganache, Merlot Salt, and Honeycomb

Espresso Olive Oil Sponge – Serves 12

  • 1 c sugar
  • 7/8 c AP flour
  • 1/2 c Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 1/2 c espresso or strong coffee
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with the rack in the bottom third of the oven. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Repeat this step.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, espresso, oil, and vanilla until homogeneous.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until smooth – the batter will be quite thin.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Cool completely then chill in in the fridge.

70% Ganache Glaze

  • 150 g dark eating chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids, finely chopped
  • 125 g heavy cream (at least 34% milk fat)
  • 1/2 tbsp glucose, optional but makes the ganache shinier
  1. Place the chocolate and glucose in a large bowl.
  2. Heat the cream in the microwave until just starting to foam on the surface.
  3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 3-4 minutes, to allow the chocolate to heat through.
  4. Stir the mixture until completely smooth.


To Assemble

  • 1 Espresso Olive Oil Chocolate Sponge, chilled
  • 1 recipe 70% Ganache Glaze, still warm
  • finishing salt, such as fleur de sel or flaked sea salt (I used 424’s Merlot Salt), as needed
  • honeycomb, as needed
  1. Run a thin knive along the side of the cake pan to loosen the cake. Invert onto a thin-meshed wire rack or small up-side-down plate.
  2. Pour the ganache over the cake and use a large offset spatula to smooth out the top and push ganache to edges that need a bit of help.
  3. Allow the ganache to start setting on the cold cake, then scrape off any drippy bits before transfering to a serving platter.
  4. Chill until the ganache has completely set. At this point you can easily keep the cake in the fridge for up to 5 days because the layer of ganache essentially seals in the cake’s moist interior.
  5. Just before serving, sprinkle generously with whichever finishing salt you’re using and garnish with chunks of honeycomb.

Enjoy with a cup of espresso.

In the comments below, tell me: would you describe this cake as “bittersweet but savoury” or “bittersweet and savoury”?


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