Finding Order in Disorder & Chocolate Olive Oil Passover Cake

Chocolate Olive Oil Passover Cake

I’m still the same as when I last wrote-focused on COVID19 most of the day and trying, like everyone else, to function as best possible. Beyond the obvious irony of living in a pandemic during Passover, how I will celebrate it this year has been hard (beyond simply finding holiday foods).

I know that many of you, like me, struggle to find grounding and order in this surreal moment. For me, the idea of the order of a seder and all of the holiday’s beautiful rituals that take us out of our normal daily routines is confounding and challenging now. If Passover already turns my regular routine upside down by changing what I eat, and completely transforms my kitchen, already creating a disruption, how do I create a semblance of the “normalcy” of the holiday routine when nothing is normal now? And, how to celebrate the idea of freedom and liberation when there’s so much sadness, stress, and darkness in our lives? How are we not consumed by these emotions and recognize the potential to survive and embrace the beautiful things in the world?

Rock Creek National Park, DC

My daily morning walks through Rock Creek National Park with a friend has set an order and helps to keep my perspective in check as I watch spring unfold around me. It reminds me that of the beauty that continues around us even when we struggle or can’t always see it.



One of my rabbis, Joseph Berman, wrote the following, “We often sing as our prayer for healing at Shabbat services the words of the Three Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra: ‘when the world is sick/can’t no one be well.’ How acutely we know this to be true. But then we sing another line: ‘but I dreamt we were all beautiful and strong.’ These last words capture for me both the yearning for a world of wholeness, healing, and liberation along with the truth that we are in fact beautiful and strong, even if we might not feel that way.”

Within hours of reading the op-ed, I found inspiration in a guided meditation by Rabbi Shuli Passow, who extrapolated on a teaching by the Hasidic Rabbi Yaakov Leiner. She explained, “chametz [leavened food] serves as an impediment for the light to shine forth in our lives. Cleaning out the chametz allows the light of blessing to shine in. This holiday, we should focus on what is a blessing right now. How can we shine more light on our blessings in our lives right now?”

Having access to healthy food and being able to cook during COVID19 is truly a blessing. Across the country, there are contrasting competing lines at supermarkets and food pantries as this pandemic exacerbates our society’s inequalities. I have found my dormant baking practice sparked as I have tried over the past few weeks to create some new baked goods, with varying success. I created for Passover a chocolate olive oil cake that is a hybrid of a few recipes, including one from the matzah cake meal box, this chocolate olive oil cake from Smitten Kitchen, and topped with this chocolate olive oil spread from Adeena Sussman.

Wishing you a safe, healthy and meaningful holiday in whatever way you celebrate this year. Chag Sameach!

PS:  Click here for my other Passover recipes,  including stuffed dates, turron, and quinoa with roasted fruits.

Chocolate Olive Oil Passover Cake

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake



1 1/2 cups cake matzah meal
3/4 cup sugar
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup carbonated water
1 tbsp white vinegar
optional: 4 tbsp fresh orange juice (if you like a bit of an orange flavor with chocolate. I didn’t even taste it in the finished cake)


⅔ cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) chopped semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
optional: 1 tsp flaky sea salt or orange zest


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry cake ingredients.
  3. Add the liquids and mix well.  I found the cake matzah mix quite dry, so you might have to add a bit of extra liquid.
  4. Pour into a 9×9 pan lined in parchment paper with olive oil along the sides. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  5. While it is baking, you can prepare the icing (which Adeena Sussman created as a spread to put on matzah).
  6. Bring ⅓ cup water, the sugar, cocoa, and salt to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, mixing until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture thickens.
  7. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, olive oil, and vanilla until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  8. Refrigerate icing until thick but spreadable, about 90 minutes. Spread on the top of the fully cooled cake. The icing will harden when left in the fridge or overnight on a counter (covered lightly with a dish towel)
  9. Optional: sprinkle with flaky sea salt on top or orange zest.
  10. PS: I didn’t use all of the icing so I recommend you also spread it on matzah, as Adeena Sussman created it for originally.




10 thoughts on “Finding Order in Disorder & Chocolate Olive Oil Passover Cake

    • Great question and I assume it would work. I would just adjust those flours with the amount of liquid they require for baking (ie they might need slightly more or less than what I used). Matzah cake flour is already a bit tricky and the cake is not as dense as a regular cake but still comes together and tastes good 🙂


  1. Very creative, looks delicious and perhaps an entry on The Great British Bakeoff. Appreciated the comments of Rabbi Berman and others. Something sweet always brings us together.



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