This Best Ever Chocolate Zucchini Cake post is from 2011, but the sentiment still stands. The updated recipe is from my book, Zoë Bakes Cakes.
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.
- 2/3 cup (50g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
- 2 1/4 cups (270g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (110g) unsold butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) lightly packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (120ml) mild-flavored oil (such as vegetable oil)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120g) plain full-fat yogurt or sour cream
- 2 cups (315g) packed grated unpeeled zucchini (see note)
- 4 oz (115g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F / 165 degrees C. Generously grease a 12-cup / 2.8L Bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and 2/3 cup / 50g cocoa powder. Sift to remove any lumps.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute.
- Turn the mixer speed to low, add both sugars to the butter, and mix until incorporated. Drizzle in the oil and vanilla, turn the speed to medium-high, and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl often for even incorporation.
- Turn the speed to medium-low and add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined. Scrape the bowl after each addition.
- Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed, just until combined. Add half the yogurt, mixing until incorporated. Repeat with another one-third flour, then the remaining yogurt, and finish with the final one-third flour, scraping the bowl and paddle after each addition.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the zucchini until it is evenly distributed. Then add the chocolate and stir until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter several times to make sure the batter has fully settled into the nooks of the Bundt.
- Bake until a tester comes out with moist crumbs, about 1 hour. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip it out onto a serving plate and dust the top with cocoa before serving.
The pan in these pictures is actually a Kugelhopf Pan and will bake faster than the traditional bundt.
To easily grate zucchini, cut off both ends and then cutinto quarters. If the zucchini are large and at all tough, remove the seeds. Then use a box grater or the grater attachment on a food processor to shred the zucchini.