I’ve been trying to come up with words for a Valentine’s post, and while I believe in the goodness of candied hearts and long-stemmed roses, I don’t feel that my experience of life and love can be wrapped up in a roses-are-red monologue of sorts. Bittersweet is my word of choice these last few years: watching the day and night work things out together. They are fierce companions.
But I do celebrate. I am loved, and loved well. This heart has some broken and torn pieces, but we have learned to mend, and protect the delicate. We have watched the sun cast shadows, and we have walked through them, hand in hand.
‘In this terrible ocean, in this terrible sea, we are pearls.’
– Lee Bozeman
Chocolate Olive Oil Cupcakes with Goat Cheese Frosting and Pistachios


This recipe is adapted from Orangette, who adapted from Epicurious. The batter does need to be chilled for 30 minutes, so plan accordingly. This makes a lot of cupcakes – almost 32.

3 oz fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 ½ cups hot brewed coffee [or cold press, heated] 1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder [not Dutch process] 3 cups sugar
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
1 ¼ tsp salt
3 large eggs
¾ cup olive oil
1 ½ cups well-shaken buttermilk
¾ tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line pans with paper liners.

Finely chop chocolate and place in a bowl with the cocoa powder. Pour the hot coffee over the chocolate and cover. Let sit for five minutes, and then whisk until smooth.
Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer until thickened slightly and lemon-colored [about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer]. Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed, until just combined. Chill batter for 30 minutes.*
Divide batter between pans, filling about 3/4 full. Bake 10 to 14 minutes, until a tester inserted in center comes out with the tiniest bit of crumbs.
Cool cupcakes completely in pans on racks. Remove and frost.


goat cheese frosting with vanilla bean and pistachios
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

This frosting only has a tiny bit of goat cheese in it, but the flavor goes a long way. I found it to even out the sweetness and add just the right amount of tang. It can be omitted. If you decide to add more, be careful! If it’s too soft it can mess with the texture of the frosting.

3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
2 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar
pistachios, chopped

Beat the butter, goat cheese, milk, vanilla, vanilla bean seeds, and salt together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.

Reduce the speed to medium low, slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until incorporated and smooth, 4-6 minutes.  Increase the mixer speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 5-10 minutes. Frost cupcakes and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.

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35 Responses to chocolate olive oil cupcakes with goat cheese frosting and pistachios

  1. Oh how wonderful! I love the presentation! And the colors. And, well, everything. I am a big fan of sweet and savory, and I think goat cheese frosting is an excellent way to achieve this. Will try!

  2. london bakes says:

    I just love your styling in these pictures, so beautiful. Not to mention the fact that the cupcakes themselves sound so wonderfully delicious!

  3. Julia says:

    These cupcakes are incredible!!! Great recipe and pictures!

  4. Very lovely words for Valentine’s Day! Cuuuute little cupcakes, sounds like a wonderful recipe. And the photos are adorable, just lov’em!

  5. I LOVE the bozeman quote. It’s fantastic. And I love how refined and elegant this recipe is. Yet it looks so approachable and insanely decadent. I must try these sometime. Must.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Awesome…will have to try, I love your addition of pitaschios!

  7. These are so pretty!

    And I just had to let you know how much I’m enjoying your blog! I feel as if I could pin everything, there’s just no stop. Keep up the great cooking, writing, photography! =)

  8. Your photography- impeccable. Your interpretation of bittersweet – gives me something to ponder. Your recipe – outstanding.

  9. Love the colors of these cupcakes! And the honesty about love. Hope you feel extra loved today!

  10. You get me all jealous with the goats cheese frosting! gotta try that out! I love how you wrote. “I am loved and loved well” 🙂 Bittersweet indeed.

  11. What gorgeous photos and styling – I’m in love with your pictures 🙂 Hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

  12. Wow. Wow. Wow. I am speechless. These are stunning.
    I have just discovered your blog – it’s stunning – and can’t wait to red more of your posts x

  13. This blog is definitely a “pearl”.. I’ve just stumbled across this post and love everything about it, the photography, the cupcakes, the poignant thoughts.. very pretty!

  14. parky says:

    This looks delightful! I’m trying to make these for Easter.

    Can you halve the recipe??

    • Sarah says:

      I haven’t ever halved the recipe, so I’m not sure. There are 3 eggs in it, which can make it difficult to cut in half. Also, I don’t know if you peeked at the notes for the goat cheese frosting, but I’ve had mixed results with it. The first few times it turned out amazing, and then about every other it would be way too runny. I’m not sure if it was the goat cheese I was using, but I mostly buy the same brand.It’s on my to-do list of recipes to perfect. 🙂 Anyway, I just wanted to warn you! I did see this recipe for almost the same thing, but it made less cupcakes, if you want to try: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Chocolate-Cupcakes-with-Goat-Cheese-Frosting I hope that helps!

  15. Julie says:

    I made theirs as cake last year and loved it! Soon I will make it into cupcakes. Should I prepare the liners at all? I don’t make cupcakes very often… Thanks!

    • Sarah says:

      I would suggest liners with these cupcakes – they are tender, and the liner will help them bake nicely. So glad you liked the cake!

  16. Melinda says:

    I made these today for a work function and wanted to comment on how wonderful they were. I am not experienced with cupcakes, but followed the recipe exactly. The cupcakes were moist and the goat cheese frosting paired excellently with the salty pistachios. I was able to make 31 cupcakes and the amount of frosting was just right. I did need to add about twice as much powdered sugar as the recipe called for to get the frosting to firm up. This recipe has been saved in my recipe box. Thanks for sharing, Sarah!

  17. amy says:

    I love the Luxury quote as well. You know there is a new record??

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