An American friend once explained to me that nobody ever locks their car in her small town… except when it’s zucchini season. Leave your door unlocked then, and you risk coming back to find a crate of zucchini left on your passenger seat.
You see, zucchini plants grow with supernatural vigor, and when harvest season comes around, gardeners are overloaded with their crop, so they’re desperately seeking ways to use it productively.
Chocolate & Zucchini Cake To The Rescue!
And one of the popular uses of a zucchini glut — aside from abandoning it on the steps of the church — is baking quick breads and cakes, including chocolate and zucchini cake, because everything tastes better with chocolate, even zucchini.
I myself did not pick the name of my blog in reference to this cake: I chose it to illustrate the two sides of my culinary personality, my love of fresh, seasonal produce as well as my appreciation for desserts. But knowing about this zucchini baking tradition, I couldn’t not have a Chocolate & Zucchini Cake in my repertoire.
I am not a gardener myself, so I just get my zucchini from the greenmarket, and over the years and the batches, I have tweaked my Chocolate & Zucchini Cake recipe to get it just right for my taste.
It produces a delightfully fluffy cake with a crisp outer crust. The advantage of using grated zucchini in the batter is that it provides extra moisture, allowing you to reduce the overall amount of butter — not that there’s anything wrong with butter, but this cake feels less heavy than most. And there is no way anyone can taste the zucchini in there, as the strands meld with the batter and disappear.
In addition to being a deep and beautiful shade of brown, this chocolate zucchini cake has a voluptuous chocolate flavor. We can thank the cocoa powder and chocolate chunks for that, and also the dash of coffee. This is a trick that my grandmother taught me, and it’s a good one to keep in mind for any chocolate cake; you can’t identify the coffee as such, but it makes the flavor of the chocolate that much more vivid.
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- 115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, or 1/2 cup olive oil, plus a pat butter or teaspoon oil for the pan
- 240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 60 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 150 grams (3/4 cup) unrefined blond cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons strong cooled coffee (optional)
- 3 large eggs
- 350 grams (2 cups) unpeeled grated zucchini, from about 1 1/2 medium zucchini
- 160 grams (5 2/3 oz) good-quality bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- Confectioner's sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 25-cm (10-inch) round springform pan or a 22-cm (8 1/2-inch) square pan.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand in a large mixing bowl), beat the sugar and butter until fluffy.
- Add the vanilla, coffee, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much.
- Add the rest of the flour mixture into the egg batter. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.
- Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without overmixing.
- Pour into the prepared cake pan, and level the surface.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen, and unclasp the sides of the pan.
- Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar or a chocolate glaze if desired.
This post was first published in April 2004 and updated in August 2017.