Best Ever Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

This Best Ever Chocolate Zucchini Cake post is from 2011, but the sentiment still stands, so I am not updating it. (8/19/18)

For the first time I understand why zucchinis are the butt of gardeners’ jokes. When I left town for my brother’s wedding in July, the zucchini plants were a spindly, weak vine with dozens of tender blossoms.  Two weeks later I returned home to find it had turned into a savage beast that took over precious real estate in the garden. My neighbor had kindly taken care of my urban farm while I was away and now my kitchen counter was also filled with zucchinis. The excitement of seeing the fruits of my labor laying there ripe and ready to eat, quickly turned to shock and concern.  I have never seen a vegetable, organic mind you, which grew to this size. It was larger than my children at birth; actually neither of the boys was this big until they were walking.  I opened the refrigerator and she had stuffed more in there. I panicked and did what every zucchini grower does; I tried to give them away. My neighbor explained that she had already taken all that she wanted for herself and I was not welcome near her home with even a single baby squash.

That is when I realized I had to disguise the vegetable and get rid of it in the form of tasty baked goods. This chocolate zucchini cake was inspired by one I ate while in college in Burlington, Vermont. I worked as a photo assistant, after classes at UVM and before my shifts at Ben & Jerry’s. One day we were shooting a spread for a magazine about using up the plethora of zucchinis from your garden. (The foreshadowing is not lost on me today.) A chocolate cake sat on pedestal and became the centerpiece of the shot. After our work was done we ate the spread of food and that cake blew my mind.  Not in a million years would you guess there was zucchini in it, and the result was moist, sweet, but not overly so, and intensely chocolate. I was a starving student and the generous baker wrapped the rest of the cake for me to take back to my dorm, along with the recipe. During one of my several moves that recipe was lost and this is the closest I have come to recreating it from distant memories.

You can watch me make and decorate this cake in my instagram video. Recipe below.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Best Ever Chocolate Zucchini Cake:

2 cups (10 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour, scoop and sweep

½ cup (55g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup (225g) brown sugar, well packed

¾ cup (170g) sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (homemade vanilla recipe)

½ cup (120g) plain yogurt or sour cream

2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini, tightly packed

4 ounces (112g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature

Ganache for top of cake

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

8 ounces heavy whipping cream

To prepare the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Grease and dust a 10-inch Bundt Pan with cocoa powder, set aside. (the pan in these pictures is actually a Kugelhopf Pan and will bake faster than the traditional bundt).

Cut the tops and bottoms of the zucchini off, and then cut into quarters. Remove the seeds if they are large and at all tough. This was only necessary for the child-sized squash, when I picked them early and they were a reasonable size I didn’t have to remove the seeds.

Use a Box Grater or the grater attachment for a Food Processor.

Sift together the flour, soda, salt and cocoa powder, set aside.

In a stand mixer cream together the butter, brown sugar and sugar using the paddle attachment, until it is light and fluffy. Slowly add the oil, until it is evenly distributed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients alternately with the yogurt in 3 additions each.

Remove from the mixer and stir in the grated zucchini until it is evenly distributed.

Stir in the melted and cooled chocolate.

Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 45-60 minutes (the wide time difference is due to different shaped pans) or until a tester comes out with moist crumb, DO NOT OVER BAKE. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip it and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

To make ganache:

Bring heavy whipping cream to a simmer, add chopped chocolate and swirl the pan to submerge. Let sit for 3 minutes. Gently whisk until smooth. Pour over the cooled cake.

Serve with fresh whipped cream or ice cream. This cake is even better the next day for breakfast.

51 thoughts to “Best Ever Chocolate Zucchini Cake”

  1. What a hilarious description of home-grown zucchini! I laughed out loud. As funny as they look, be glad the grow at all! We’ve had miserable luck with ours this year, and didn’t get a single one.

  2. Really amusing description, but also so true. A friend of mine has zucchini in her garden and she always tries to give them away – and she has no success with giving them away either. As long as they are small or tiny I’m happy to take them, because you don’t even need to remove the seeds and they just taste great with some thyme. But bigger ones, hmm, well they really have to end up in a cake, because they don’t have to much flavor. Unfortunately zucchini is growing really fast, you have to pick them when small, otherwise you’ll run into these giant problems you described.

  3. So funny Zoe! Last year my son asked if next year we could only plant half a zucchini seed. He thought that might be manageable. So this year we planted two seeds and right now I have 9 on my kitchen counter and some still in the garden. I have a zucchini crisp recipe that uses 8 cups of cubed and tastes like apples. I’m making your chocolate cake now – my birthday cake.

    1. I would love your recipie. My grandkids love zucchini and apples. We always have alot of zucchini in our garden every year.

  4. I’m pretty much crazy for chocolate zucchini cakes. Every time I see a different variant on the theme, I have to stop and gawk. There is synergy when zucchini and chocolate collide; love the bundt pan delivery!

    My obsession began because I grew up with my Grandma always making this particular rendition every summer, and I still repeat it a few times every season just to satisfy myself. Always a great excuse to let your zucchini get out of hand! =)

  5. Looks delicious! I love desserts like this that aren’t too sweet but still have a lot of flavor. I live in the city and don’t yet have my own garden, but someday I look forward to overflowing, pain-in-the-butt zucchini! 🙂

  6. That is a beautiful zucchini bundt cake. I could just see myself with so much zucchini…feeling like my brown thumb had finally turned super green…and then panicking. I love the photo of the powdered sugar dusting the top of the cake.

  7. I used to grow zucchini – but found it was not necessary. Someone will give it to you. When I was in your shoes I did lots of zucchini choc cake and even did zucchini marmalade which sent the neighbors into guffaws and stunned silence.

  8. Hasnt it been weird this year??? We have had more critters then ever… slugs, bugs and the sort. Thank goodness there is a plethora so losing 25% hasnt been the worst thing to happen. 🙂

    Happy baking!
    Amanda

    Oh! And beautiful cake. 🙂

  9. Had two zucchini in my refrigerator and needed to make a brunch bread for a tea meeting this am. Made Zoe’s recipe last evening…it was amazing. Thank you for a GREAT recipe. It was a huge hit!

  10. One in the oven (zucchini cake that is), Two zucchini’s over to Sherri to bake one cake for herself and one for Paige. Now what to do with the rest of the zucchini’s…

  11. Found your website while searching for a chocolate zucchini cake recipe since I lost mine in our move last year. This is very similar to mine only I sprinkle the chocolate chips on top and use a 9×13. The bundt is beautiful, I may have to try this!

    Thanks!
    Nancy

  12. The cake looks yummy! Do you need to squeeze out the water from the zucchini before adding it to the batter?
    Thanks.

  13. Oh my!! I discovered your blog today, and I have been reading and reading and reading… I have already listed it as a favourite on my computer, so I am hereby a follower of your blog.
    Have a nice day,
    Line from Norway.

  14. Hi Zoe,
    Have you seen Gina DePalma’s recipe for zucchini cake with a crunchy lemon glaze? It is made with olive oil, which sounds odd but is so amazingly good. David Lebovitz posted a variation on his blog last year which is how I found it. If I had zucchini this year I’d definitely be making that cake again. It’s the best zucchini cake I’ve ever had.

  15. Er-r-r-r, Z, you get rid of those zucchini by painting cute faces on them, wrapping them in baby blankets and setting them carefully on the steps of the Zen Center in SW Mpls — in the middle of the night. They are one with zucchini I am told. (*^;^*)

  16. OMG I am completely mortified … I merged your recipes and made this cake in a round tin …. split into three layers and filled with your coconut custard cream filling and covered with chocolate butter icing … and even “dressed” it up by sprinkling fine cake crumbs as inspired by your blackout chocolate cake … BUT NO COMPLIMENTS ! Yikes – bad for the ego! I tasted each part individually and it seemed nice but I couldn’t access a proper ‘slice’ … was it a dumb idea for a combination?!

    1. Hi Deflated,

      All of those recipes are very dense and heavy, it is often best to combine heavy with light textures. A lighter cake would have made the others shine, the Devil’s Food would be a good base. Maybe just a scoop of ice cream for the zucchini cake next time.

      Thanks for trying all those recipes! Zoë

  17. I LOVED this recipe! The cake was absolutely delicious, and as far as my little brothers know it was just a yummy chocolate cake(have to keep the zucchini a secret). 😉 I think I am going to attempt your banana pudding recipe next. Can’t wait.

  18. I think I’ll try this one with the zucchini from my latest CSA box. I developed a cayenne chocolate zucchini cake a few years back that I really like, but it gets mixed reviews because of the spice. Ah well, more for me. 🙂

  19. My favorite chocolate cake recipe was a zucchini chocolate cake. I lost the recipe years ago but never forgot the dense crumb. It was delicious! Your recipe looks amazing and I am sure is MUCH better than the one I lost! Thanks so much for doing this!!

  20. Oh send me some please! for some reason my mom’s zucchini did not do well this year. She usually has a few bushels-ful to give away, but not this year. I am missing my zucchini. 🙁 … but I have eggplant! and cucumbers galore. Gargantuan cucumbers almost as big as zucchini. Whatever do you do with THOSE? Do you suppose you could make a cucumber cake? LOL

  21. Hi Zoe! You are a hilarious storyteller! But you are a magnificent baker too. I love vegetables in disguise. I doubt if there’d be leftover of this stuff the next day for breakfast as what you’ve said…

  22. …it helped a lot when I learned you can eat zucchini raw in a salad. they have been my “starving student” food for months, ’cause they are so cheap. then I couldn’t even think of the taste anymore! 🙂 now I hide them gradually in some dishes (grated. with loads of spices.) and maybe one day…

    baking with them is new to me, but I’m really looking forward to trying your recipe!

  23. Hi Zoe!
    I’ve noticed that your Bundt Cakes always come out perfectly flat while mines are always domed and with a deep crack. I’ve tried many different recipes and oven temperatures. Can you give some advice?

    Thanks.

  24. I make regular zuchinni cake but this chocolate one sounds yummy. I grate the zuchini and freeze it. put 4 cups of grated squash in a bag.when you are ready to use it squeeze most of the water out and it is like fresh.

  25. How do I print only a recipe, I don’t want all these comments, they are of no interest to me and a terrible waste of time and paper.
    Joanna

  26. Zoe:
    The only cakes I make on a regular basis involve the bundt pan…love the touch of crispness that the bundt pan lends to a dense cake…I discovered your Chocolate Zucchini last year and have made it many times including cakes to give as gifts. The recipe was again on my top zucchini “to do” list this summer and your recipe never fails me. Thanks for sharing. This is an excellent cake…particuarly with fresh whipped cream and fresh raspberries!
    Ronda

  27. What a tantalizing looking cake. I just had to try it.
    Next time I make it I was thinking about just adding semi-sweet choc. chip straight into batter. Decadent!

  28. Hi, this cake sounds delicious. Would it work as cupcakes? I find when I serve a cake people only want a “little” slice. But if I serve cupcakes they always take a whole cupcake. How long would you suggest to bake them? TIA

  29. This just made me laugh! Saw you making this on Instagram and will definiely give it a try. If only I had a neighbor with zucchinis – I’m afraid I’ll have to buy mine in the store.

  30. This cake is fabulous! It was easy to make and very moist. Everyone enjoyed it! I have had chocolate zucchini cake in the past and never enjoyed it. This was wonderful.

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