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 until nearly room temperature, you should be able to comfortably handle it.

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.