Pistachio Olive Oil Cake with Olive Oil Frosting featuring Colive Oil

Colive Oil – the olive oil with a mission – is the star ingredient in this incredible easy and tasty pistachio cake.


Several years ago, I took my first tour of olive tree groves in Northern California and learned how good quality olive oil is supposed to smell and taste. I realized then that I’d gotten so used to the taste of the big-name imported olive oils that I had no clue what I was missing out on.

Good quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) – oil that is alive with antioxidants – should be cold-pressed as close to harvest as possible to retain all its healthful benefits. Fresh EVOO should smell of freshly cut grass. It should be fruit-forward with a peppery finish, and when you swallow, the back of your throat should tingle. That sharp taste and tingling sensation are indicators that the EVOO is filled with all those healthful antioxidants. If you’re EVOO doesn’t tingle the back of your throat when you taste it, buy a fresh bottle. It’s either old, too highly processed, or most likely already rancid.

My primary cooking oil is EVOO. I’m regularly doing quick sautés or low and slow poaching with it, but even when I’m cooking at a higher heat, I still pull out the EVOO. Good quality EVOO is a mostly monounsaturated fat that can withstand higher heat, unlike vegetable oils that quickly reach their smoke point and can release toxins into the air. I also love to finish a lot of dishes with a generous drizzle straight from the bottle.


After my first olive grove tour (pictured above, Capay Valley Ranch’s olive tree grove), I started reading olive oil labels as I did for any other food I carefully selected. If a bottle didn’t have a harvest date on it, it went back on the shelf. If it had multi-country sourced olives, it went back on the shelf (too much traveling involved, so how can you ensure that the olives where milled quickly after harvesting? How long did the pressed oil travel to get to it’s bottling facility? How was it stored in transport? Just too many questions!). I started buying only California certified EVOO with olives grown, pressed, and bottled at their source. This meant that the bottles I bought at the grocery store spent the least amount of time in travel and was the freshest I could get my hands on.

So when Colive Oil reached out to introduce me to their oil, I was intrigued but hesitant. I’d pretty much sworn off European imported oil because I found a lot of them rancid by the time I reached for them to cook with. I looked Colive up and discovered that they are a small operation with an olive oil sommelier that oversees the entire process from tree to table. Their oil is available online and shipped directly to customers. After spending some time on the website, I was on board.

A few weeks later, a couple of beautifully packaged bottles of olive oil arrived.

“Do you want to hear my story?,” starts the card inserted into the beautifully packaged bottle of Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil that the Cyprus-based company, Colive Oil, sent to me to taste.


It continues:
“This is a story of two best friends.
They eat and play together with their families under olive trees.
Then, something bad happens, and the families get separated.

When the girls go back to the place they always meet,
They find a fence in between.

They look around and see the same olive trees.
They start picking the olives, passing them through the fence.
And, the fence starts to crumble.”

After removing the card and the protective foam, a paper-sleeved clear bottle filled with 200 ml of liquid gold is uncovered.

On the sleeve is a sweet watercolor illustration of two young girls. Dividing them is a green fence.

“Your mission: Pull for peace,” continues the card. “It’s time to pull down the fence to bring our friends together. Are you ready? Please pull to remove the sleeve.”


Revealed on the bottle facing me, was an illustration of the two girls sitting with their families at a table sharing a bottle of olive oil. It’s an exquisite product with a social mission that feels vital and of the present, even amid a global pandemic.

“The design is a cornerstone of Colive as a company and a team,” Hasan Siber told me in a recent email exchange. Siber, along with Alex Philippides, founded Colive Oil. “The design stems from the political story of Cyprus, a beautiful multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic island for centuries, now divided along ethnic lines into two main parts,” continued Siber. “There is a fence between these two main ethnic groups (Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots).”

Cyprus is, indeed, an island divided. To the south, taking up 70 percent of the island, the majority of the population is Greek. The north is Turkish. And since 1974, separating the two groups is a 112-mile Buffer Zone – also called the ‘Green Line” – controlled by the United Nations.

“As founders, Alex and myself, (and all the other Cypriot members of the Colive team) are affected by this conflict,” said Siber. “The story of two girls we include in every limited signature bottle comes from my mom being internally displaced because of the wars in the 70s and Alex’s mom who was alive in the same conflict period. But, those two girls could be any Cypriot our mom’s age.”

Siber, CEO of Colive Oil, met Philippides, Colive’s CFO while attending college in the UK and discovered that they were both Cypriots but from different sides of the island – Siber from the north and Philippides from the south. They remained in contact after graduating and even worked on projects before Siber had the idea for starting Colive Oil.

The name “Colive,” as in “co-living,” comes from the company’s desire “to exist together where we all cooperate for peace,” according to Colive’s website. To that end, the company works directly with 20 family farms on each side of the island. Each pressing uses a 50-50 mix of olives from each side. They believe reunification is possible through the production of their olive oil. “Because healthy and bonded people do not war against each other,” as noted in the company’s vision statement.

Siber is an olive oil sommelier who trained in Spain and Italy. “All the harvesting, milling and bottling are currently done in Cyprus,” Siber explained to me. Curious, I asked how much time passed between the harvesting of the olives to their pressing. “Our record is 20 minutes,” Siber proudly reported. “We aim to bring olives to the mill within an hour from end of the harvesting.”

Those numbers are especially impressive considering that transporting the olives means traveling through the Buffer Zone. That feat itself required months of lobbying to get special permission from both governments, a first since the conflict began. “In crossing the demilitarised zone dividing Cyprus, these olives create a truly and wholly Cypriot, globally unique olive oil with the social mission of bringing people together despite conflicts,” states the company’s website.

The company donates 10% of profits to organizations and programs that align with its mission to create more sustainable livelihoods and contribute to positive social change, beginning in its own backyard.


Great backstory, but how does it taste?

Colive lived up to my expectations. The first night I used it as a finishing oil on a quick Caprese salad with luscious tomatoes from my dad’s garden and fresh basil from mine. It tasted fresh and peppery, adding the perfect finishing touch to the salad. I also used some of the oil to braise collard greens for dinner a few nights later. Besides the greens becoming incredibly melt-in-your-mouth tender, the braising technique really highlighted the clean, bright taste of the oil. 


I knew that there was still more I wanted to do to test the oil. I’d tried it straight from the bottle and cooked. Then remembering back to my second olive oil grove tour where a chef had prepared dinner for our group, the evening’s dessert popped into my mind. It was a tasty carrot cupcake with an olive oil frosting that was sublime. So I decided that my next use of the Colive oil would be in a baked treat.


If you’ve never used olive oil in your baking, you’re missing out. Baked goods come out incredibly moist, tender, and lighter than their butter counterparts. Unlike my experience using coconut oil, olive oil never overtakes but instead adds another layer of flavor and savoriness. It’s especially perfect in baked goods that are not heavily sweetened.

That’s where today’s cake comes in.



An homage to that cupcake I had all those years ago, this Pistachio Olive Oil Cake with Olive Oil Frosting is a wonderfully nutty cake with just a hint of sweetness that gets even better with age. Seriously. This cake was delicious the day it was baked. But every day after, as Auntie and I took our daily slice, the cake literally got more tender and flavorful, with the more delicate notes of the olive oil bursting through while the pistachio flavor became a little more pronounced. By day four, the two of us had polished it off and were left wanting more.

Oh, and this frosting? It’s precisely what I remembered. I’d asked the chef that day how he had made the frosting, and he said “EVOO and confectioner’s sugar. That’s it!” I did add a bit of almond extract to it, which in hindsight, was a subtle but unnecessary addition, so if you don’t have it, you won’t miss it.



I shelled roasted pistachios (with help from Auntie), but you can save yourself some time by buying shelled. To make flour from nuts and grains, I used the milling blade attachment and the small cup for my NutriBullet, which made making this fine flour super fast. To make, fill the cup halfway with the nuts, run the NutriBullet for 20-30 seconds, and then pass the flour through a strainer. Put the bits that didn’t pass through back into the milling cup and add more whole nuts. Repeat the process until you have 1 ½ cups of flour. Save any of the large nut meal that didn’t pass through the strainer for garnishing.

If you don’t have a grain mill blade for your NutriBullet, regular grain mill, or a milling attachment for your KitchenAid, pulse the nuts in a food processor using the “S” blade. Just be careful not to over-process, or you will wind up with pistachio butter. 




Pistachio Olive Oil Cake with Olive Oil Frosting

This cake is even better the next day, making this a great make-ahead dessert. To grind your own nuts, use the milling blade accessory for a NutriBullet, a grain mill accessory for a KitchenAid Stand Mixer, or use a food processor with the “S” blade. To bake, you’ll need an 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pan and parchment paper to line the bottom. If you've never used baking spray, it really is a timesaver and much less messy. The spray has the flour incorporated into the oil, so you don’t have the additional step of flouring the pan. I prefer Professional Bak-Klene ZT, but Baker’s Joy is another choice. Because I’m not a fan of lots of frosting, the recipe makes just enough frosting to cover the top of the cake with a thin layer. This frosting has just a kiss of sweetness as the olive oil adds savoriness to balance the flavor. 

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups whole shelled pistachios
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from approximately one large lemon)
4 large eggs
½ cup Colive Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup organic honey
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
¼ cup milk (whole or 2 percent)
Baking spray

For the frosting:

⅓ cup Colive Extra Virgin Olive Oil
⅔ cup powdered sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided 
½ teaspoon almond extract, optional

For the garnish

¼ cup leftover pistachio nut meal and/or roughly chopped pistachios 

Directions

Add the nuts to your grain mill or food processor with the “S” blade attached. Run the mill or process for 20 seconds, being careful not to over-process, or you’ll wind up with nut butter. Pass the flour through a strainer. Place any nut meal still in the strainer back into the mill or processor, add more nuts and repeat the process until you have 1 ½ cups of pistachio flour. Reserve the chunkier pieces of nut that didn’t get make it through the strainer for garnishing. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper. Spray pan generously with baking spray; set aside.

Whisk together the two flours, baking soda and salt in a large bowl until well combined then whisk in the zest; set aside.

Beat the eggs on high until light and frothy, about 2 minutes. Add the olive, honey, vanilla paste, and milk. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and using a rubber spatula, gently fold to incorporate until there is no dry flour. Pour batter into the cake pan and bake for 20-22 minutes or until just golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean with just a few tender crumbs. Place on a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Carefully turn out from the pan and set right side up on the cooling rack. Cool completely.

In the meantime, make the frosting by beating together the olive oil, ⅔ cup of powdered sugar and the almond extract until light and fluffy. If the frosting is too thin, add the reserved powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time to reach a fluffy consistency. 

When the cake is thoroughly cooled, transfer to a cake pedestal or serving plate and frost the top of the cake. Garnish with the nut meal. 

The cake will keep at room temperature, covered, for up to four days. If storing longer, place covered cake in the refrigerator. Allow the chilled cake to come up to room temperature before serving.

The recipe in pictures

Prep the cake pans.


Make the pistachio flour.


Whisk the dry ingredients. 


Beat the eggs.


Add the Colive Extra Virgin Olive Oil, honey, vanilla bean paste, and the milk. 


Add the egg mixture to the flour and mix to combine well. Pour into the prepared cake pan.


Bake for 20-22 minutes until just golden and a toothpick comes out with just a few tender crumbs.


Add the sugar, Colive oil, and almond extract to a bowl.


Beat on high until light and fluffy.


Once cake is completely cooled, frost.


Garnish the cake with the leftover pistachio nut meal and some roughly chopped pistachios.


Serve.

More about Colive Oil

Purchase Colive Oil on their website.

Please note: They are currently sold out of the Essential Luxury Edition (what was sent to me in the video above) and the Limited Signature Edition (which includes a bowl for dipping). These are the bottles packaged with the illustrated sleeve in the luxury boxes.

Sign up for a monthly subscription: The Saver Duo option is packaged without the illustrations and comes in standard boxes. It’s the same ultra-premium extra virgin olive oil as the Luxury and Signature editions. When I asked about availability, Siber told me that the oils will be in a Colive Oil warehouse in the US by November, which should help with even faster delivery times and shipping costs.

You can also connect with Colive: 

Comments

  1. Cannot wait to make this cake! The pistachio "dust" looks amazing against that blue background :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Heidi! It's soooo good! We're making another as soon as the temps come down a tad. :)

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