I was very saddened by the sudden death, from a massive heart attack, of a colleague who was also a friend.
That led me to start thinking about “healthier desserts” – or at least, desserts with heart-healthy fats. Of course, one could argue that it’s not healthy to consume a lot of sugar, but for now I’m focusing on fats.
I started wondering why olive oil, the oil with the highest percentage of healthy monounsaturated fat, wasn’t the “fat ingredient” in more desserts. After reviewing dessert cookbooks, I identified these reasons – there may be more.
- Unlike butter, olive oil does not aerate when mixed together with sugar so baked goods with olive oil (or any oil) as the only fat, will have an uneven, coarse texture
- As olive oil has a pronounced flavor, it may overpower desserts with milder flavors
But can’t olive oil still be used? What if you don’t mind a dessert with a coarser texture? What if you either love the taste of olive oil (as I do) or are combining olive oil with strongly flavored ingredients, such as citrus?
Olive oil companies certainly tout the health benefits of their oils. Could they be doing more by promoting their products as a way of making desserts healthier? I looked at the web sites of six olive oil producers, and this is what I found:Sample recipes were included on all the sites
- Two sites did not include any desserts in their recipe offerings: http://www.villabertolli.com/ and http://www.lucini.com/
- One site offered one recipe for dessert and one site offered two dessert recipes: http://www.delpapafamily.com/ and http://www.monini.us/
- One site contained 14 dessert recipes and one site contained 56 recipes for desserts: http://www.filippoberio.com/ and http://www.californiaoliveranch.com/
If olive oil companies wanted to capitalize more on the market for dessert, would they encourage their loyal customers to start baking or would they encourage bakers to switch to olive oil? While it’s often more difficult to obtain new customers (as opposed to selling more to your existing customers), it might be harder to encourage non-bakers to start baking.
Interestingly, there are at least two olive oil baking cookbooks on the market. I own one – Olive Oil Baking by Lisa A. Sheldon. I’ve made the Apricot Bars recipe numerous times. While the bars might be a bit heavier than those made with butter, they’re delicious and always a big hit.