One of the very first food blogs to gain popularity was started by a French woman, Clothilde Dusoulier, and is titled Chocolate and Zucchini (she also has a cookbook of the same title). This might come across as a peculiar title and ingredient combination to some people, or perhaps only people who have not had the chance to try this cake. If your grandmother made great zucchini bread, if you've tasted certain carrot cake or morning glory muffin recipes, or if you have tried my Sweet Potato Zucchini Bread recipe, then you will know that the additional of shredded zucchini to a batter makes the finished product incredibly moist without adding one iota of zucchini flavor.
Zucchini serves a triple purpose in this chocolate cake recipe. In addition to ensuring a moist texture, the shredded zucchini absorbs all of the cocoa and distributes it evenly throughout the batter and, as a result, delivers a deeper chocolate taste without the denseness of many other chocolate cakes. Then of course there is the nutritional value that it brings to the table as an ingredient, rich in vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Other than the few tiny green specks that dot the finished cake, the zucchini is barely noticeable. What a great way to trick, er, I mean serve your family a few extra nutrients for dessert! Here are some tips for this chocolaty cake:
- This cake will keep, tightly covered, at room temperature for 3-4 days. In my opinion, the flavor actually improves on the second day, so make it ahead of time if you can (and if you have the will power not to eat it!!)
- Instead of making this cake in the one large pan you can make it into two 9X5 loaf pans, a bundt pan, or you can even make it into cupcakes using regular or oversized muffin tins.
- The chocolate chips and walnuts can be mixed into the batter as opposed to sprinkling them on top. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar before serving.
- Before adding the zucchini to the batter, squeeze any excess moisture from it if the vegetable was very juicy.
- If you would like to make this cake lower in fat or calories, then substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil. For added nutritional benefits, substitute 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour for 1 cup of the regular flour.
- Because the cake is light in texture, it can be a challenge to slice neatly. To help with cleaner slices, refrigerate the cake, covered, for a few hours.
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake
2 ¼ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups sugar
½ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup canola or safflower oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 325F degrees. Line a 13X9X2-inch baking pan with foil so that there is a 1-inch overhang on all sides and spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray. Sift the flour cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar, butter, and oil at medium speed until creamy, 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract. On low speed, mix in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk in 2 additions each. Mix in the grated zucchini and then pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and the walnuts evenly over the top.
Bake the cake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center emerges clean. Cool the cake completely in the pan and then use the foil to help you lift it out of the pan for cutting and serving.