Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Also try this double chocolate zucchini bread!

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

We haven’t had a double dose of chocolate in awhile. Two weeks is long enough, right? Actually, I stand corrected. Today we experience a triple dose of chocolate:

√ super chocolate cake

√ with chocolate chips

√ and milk chocolate fudgy frosting

Ok… quadruple…

√ with chocolate goodies on top (choc chips and ch0c sprinkles!)

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Can you just look at how rich and moist this cake is? It tastes even better than it looks, I swear. The real secret behind it are the hidden vegetables inside. If you’re one who believes veggies should have nothing to do with dessert, keep an open mind. Carrot cake, anyone?!

(Seriously veggies and fruits (apple!) produce the moistest cakes on the planet. I love it!)

I will say this: the thought of a dessert like black bean brownies has me running for the hills. But chocolate zucchini cake? Now that’s something worth sticking around for. And hey. Maybe you can change my mind about the bean brownie thing. Is it really that good?

The best part about this chocolate zucchini cake? You don’t even realize there’s zucchini inside of it. When in reality– there’s 3 cups of it!! THREE!! The chocolate completely masks any and all signs of vegetables. This is totally the way to get your greens.

Let’s discuss a few things before we begin.

If you’re looking for a mellow dessert, this isn’t it. For mega chocolate flavor, use both natural unsweetened cocoa and chocolate chips inside the batter. Cocoa powder takes place of some of the flour– and make sure you’re using natural unsweetened cocoa powder, not dutched cocoa. Remember why? And I know I linked to this article recently as well: the reason why I use both baking soda and baking powder in baked goods. The two are related as most of the leavening occurs with the natural cocoa powder (acid) and baking soda (base). Ok enough about that!

Chocolate chips are key to those melty pockets of chocolate in each slice. Because melty pockets of chocolate are always the right choice.

To accentuate the chocolate flavor, add a dash of espresso powder. This ingredient is totally optional, but I highly recommend its addition. The chocolate zucchini cake won’t taste like coffee. Rather, the espresso powder helps bring out the intense chocolate flavor.

Cocoa powder can dry out baked goods– much more than flour. Did you know that? To compensate for it, let’s ensure there is plenty of moisture in the cake batter.

  1. Eggs. 4 of them. Remember room temperature is important.
  2. Sour cream or plain yogurt– the real moist-makers!
  3. Brown sugar instead of all white sugar. Brown sugar not only provides moisture, but flavor as well. Fave ingredient in the kitchen!
  4. 3 cups of shredded zucchini. Testing how much we can get away with… without actually tasting it! 3 cups is perfect. Zucchini is pure magic in cakes. Nothing but flavorless moisture.
  5. 1 cup of oil. Now you can try replacing *some* of the oil with unsweetened applesauce. I’ve done this with chocolate cakes and muffins and the result is wonderful, but I do not recommend replacing all of it. Regardless of the zucchini inside, this isn’t health food. It’s dessert! Don’t make it something it’s not! 🙂

Make sure you’re using 9×2 inch cake pans– at least 2 inches high is the minimum because these cakes can rise up quite tall. Just bought these cake pans and I’m obsessed with them (not sponsored, I’m recently addicted to USA Pan!). High quality, sturdy, and all-around even baking on my cakes.

As an alternative, you can make this into a sheet cake or even a big batch of cupcakes. See my recipe notes.

For frosting, let’s go with a smooth, silky, and creamy milk chocolate fudge frosting. OR you can totally do a creamy vanilla buttercream instead. There was just enough frosting to frost the entire layer cake AND a little leftover for some fun piping on top! Totally optional; decorate however you’d like!

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

I used Ateco #30 tip for the piping.

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Deep, dark, luxuriously rich, crazy moist, and weirdly loaded with vegetables that you absolutely can’t taste. Is this cool or what?! Start collecting your 3 zucchinis NOW.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

Box Grater | Glass Mixing Bowls | KitchenAid Stand Mixer | KitchenAid Hand Mixer | Round Cake Pan | Cupcake Liners | Cupcake Pan | #30 Ateco Closed Star Tip | Disposable Icing Bags

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (63g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80g) sour cream or plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini (about 3 medium)*
  • 1 cup (180g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • chocolate fudge frosting or vanilla frosting

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease two 9x2 inch cake pans. (Make sure they're at least 2 inches high, deep dish style.) Set aside.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder (if using), and salt together in a large bowl. In another large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and zucchini together until combined. Pour into dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until completely combined. Beat in the chocolate chips. Batter will be slightly thick.
  3. Pour batter evenly into cake pans. Bake for around 25-32 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  4. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Pipe any leftover frosting on top. (I used Ateco #30 tip.) Decorate with chocolate sprinkles or mini chocolate chips if desired. Slice and serve.
  5. Cover any leftover cake and store at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Make ahead tip: Prepare cakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cakes at room temperature, covered tightly. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container, then bring to room temperature when ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cakes may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, if desired, before serving.

Recipe Notes:

*Give the shredded zucchini a very light blotting with a towel. Don't squeeze too much moisture out, just a little blot before adding to the wet ingredients. I own and love this box grater-- works quickly!

9x13 cake: Interested in making a sheet cake instead? This batter will fit into a 9x13 pan. The bake time is long-- at least 45 minutes to ensure the thick cake is baked through. Same oven temperature.

Cupcakes: This recipe yields 24-30 cupcakes. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out *mostly* clean with no wet batter. Same oven temperature.

Did you make a recipe?

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Also try these as cupcakes! Directions in the recipe notes.

Chocolate zucchini cupcakes! So moist, rich, and easy! Topped with milk chocolate frosting. Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Super rich and fudgy chocolate cake with chocolate chip and chocolate fudge frosting! The best zucchini cake! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
Super moist and rich chocolate zucchini cupcakes with chocolate frosting! You won't taste the zucchini and everyone FLIPPED for these cupcakes! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

106 comments

  1. Something else I can make with the boatload of zucchini we have now sitting in the kitchen! Thanks, appreciate the idea. I also love double chocolate zucchini muffins.

  2. That looks so decadent that it’s hard to believe there is zucchini in it!
    Kari
    http://sweetteasweetie.com/beeritas-estrella-jalisco/

  3. Yummy  

  4. I make a delicious, chocolate zucchini quick bread. This cake looks phenomenal, can’t wait to try it out!

  5. It’s funny how my first two thoughts were: “I am SO not telling my kids there’s zucchini in here.. muahaha” and “I’m just gonna keep telling myself there’s zucchini in here… then I can eat as much as I want, right!?” LOL. No matter what I tell who, this looks absolutely divine.

  6. This is beautiful Sally, thanks so much. Can’t wait to make this cake. We have tons of fresh raspberries in the garden, and I think I’ll serve this cake with a little whipped cream and a ton of raspberries. I made your oatmeal raisin cookies for the 334th time this weekend. Usually I am very open for kitchen experiments, I tried Ambitious Kitchen’s black bean avocado brownies and can’t say I care much for the earthy aftertaste. A great veg to add however is chickpeas, or at least in my experience! Chocolate-covered Katie has a chickpea chocolate chip cookie recipe, you should give it a look! Have a lovely week. 

    • Good to know about chickpeas!! And you can’t beat a batch of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. 🙂 Let me know when you try this cake, I’d love to hear how it is with the whipped cream and raspberries!

      • Sally, I made it yesterday for our Sunday afternoon coffee hour. I reduced the sugar to half a cup of brown sugar and 2/3 cups of granulated sugar, because we Frenchies like it less sweet 🙂 I also subbed half the oil for applesauce. Topped it with your ganache from the Party Angel Food Cake, tons of fresh raspberries and a generous dollop of whipped cream from our neighbour’s cows. It was a huge success with everyone! Thank you so much! Next week, I will be making your peach Bundt cake. Can’t wait!

      • I bet it was DIVINE with the chocolate ganache!!

  7. Sally I made this yesterday and it is the most decadent cake I have made so far! Absolutely fabulous. So soft that I could turn a huge piece in a ball and pop it into my mouth. Lush!! I used a frosting made of dark and white chocolate and some creamy peanut butter and that took this cake to another level. Thanks for this recipe!

  8. This looks delish! Definitely want to try!!

  9. hey girl- this cake looks so yummy!

  10. Made this yesterday as a 9×13 cake with your chocolate frosting you suggested. Phenomenal! I had to use avocado oil because I was out of canola and mini chips for the chocolate chips. This is an insanely good recipe, even using the avocado oil which probably alters the taste slightly. And the chocolate frosting is amazing. I always make your vanilla one so I can’t believe I’ve never tried this one. Thanks for a great recipe.

  11. This looks beyond heavenly!!!

    Also, I love the link to the cocoa powder baking basics post! Super helpful in understanding how the two are different.

  12. We moved into our house two years ago and decided this year to clean up the former owners’ garden and plant our own. Our zucchini is going crazy, so I am super excited to make this.   As mentioned when you first spoke of this cake, I dream about your chocolate zucchini bread, so I am getting on this over the weekend!! 

    I hope you’re feeling well. I was VERY pregnant with my oldest during the Summer.  I spent many days soaking my swollen ankles in cool water!  

    • I’ve been dipping my feet into the kiddie pool I bought my dogs most afternoons HAHA! So I get it!

    • My daughters & I baked this cake today and frosted it with the chocolate fudge frosting. The cake stuck to my pans (I think it was the chocolate chips), but once I assembled & frosted it, I didn’t mind! It didn’t look the prettiest, but we didn’t care. This cake is wonderful!  My chocoholic husband had no idea there was zucchini in it…and I’m keeping it our little secret.  Make this cake-you will love it!
      Thanks for another great recipe, Sally.

  13. YES GREENS IN CAKE! love love love! And UGH…. no black bean brownies for me… I’d rather have this any and every day! 

  14. YUMMMY you can’t even see the zucchini! sometimes my hubby finds a piece of veggie in a baked good of mine and immediately rejects it ha ha

  15. Best line ever: “…this isn’t health food. It’s dessert! Don’t make it something it’s not!” I’m constantly trying to sneak in veggies but honestly at the end of the day – it IS the sugar and chocolate and more chocolate that we want to taste. 

  16. Looks yummy. If only my zucchini were ready. Delayed gratification is better than none. I’ll bookmark it. 

  17. Sally, I watched you make this as cupcakes on Instagram live the other day. Are you following a pregnancy diet/workout routine? I’d love to know. You look amazing!

    • Thank you! I’m just trying to stay as active as possible and eat as nutritious as I can for the baby. 🙂

  18. This cake looks so delicious, Sally! And I love all that hidden zucchini! 

  19. hello Sally from the philippines!! made this and it was the moistest and most delicious chocolate cake to date 🙂 though i don’t have enough zucchini since its a bit pricey here in PH but i increase the sour cream to a cup..this is my first time to comment here but had made some of your recipes already and always turn out great 🙂 thank you soo much and congratulation on your pregnancy been working on my 2nd but hasnt formed yet huh:( well in Gods perfect time it will 🙂 by the way wanted to ask if what to replace opting not to use the zucchini, planning to make cupcakes ? thank you and goodluck 🙂

    • Best of luck to you!
      And, also, about the cupcakes: I would just make these chocolate cupcakes instead of messing around with this chocolate zucchini cake and leaving out the zucchini.
      Thanks for taking the time to say hi!

  20. Since the cakes can be frozen frosted I’m guessing the cupcakes can also be frozen the same way?  Love freezing cupcakes so that I can take them out for the kids as a special treat whenever needed!  Same with so many of your other desserts!  I also find it keeps me from overindulging by having too many desserts out on the counter at once

  21. Dear Sally, I will be forever grateful to you for this recipe. I’m 67 and never baked with zucchini! 🙂 You made this recipe sound sooo delicious I just had to try it! WE LOVE IT!!! I think it was July 10th when you posted; my dear hubby needed some cupcakes for a morning meeting and I made this recipe! Yesterday I made them, the second time, for a niece who was packing for camping, was so busy, and appreciated the offer to take these along. (I saved a few for us!) It is so very moist and full of chocolate flavor. Sometimes my husband and I say, “If we had our eyes shut, we wouldn’t know this cake is chocolate!” Not this cake. So grateful you shared this with all of us! Thank You! (And, God’s blessings on your last 10 weeks as you wait for precious Baby to arrive.)

    • Thanks for the well wishes during this exciting time for us, Cordelia!

      Also, thank you for writing to tell me how much this chocolate zucchini cake was loved! It’s absolutely my new favorite way to make chocolate cake because it’s so rich and divine, but there’s hidden veggies 🙂

  22. People, you need to bake this cake. YOU NEED TO BAKE THIS CALE!! I brought it to a dinner last night and at first just called it a chocolate cake. I received glowing reviews like “This is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had”, “You should enter it at the state fair”, “What a unique chocolate cake!” One lady told me literally four times how good it was. And then I dropped the bombshell that it had zucchini in it. People were just blown away at how rich and yummy it was. Sally, you outdid yourself on this one! By the way, I made the milk chocolate frosting with half butter and half shortening, and it was just right.

    • HAHAHA!!! I love this comment it made me laugh. I brought these cupcakes to our friends the other night and received the same absolute SHOCK that there’s zucchini inside!

  23. I can’t wait to make this recipe, it looks delectable!!! Where can I find the sprinkle cake plate?

  24. I made it with a chocolate cream cheese icing instead but used the cake recipe exactly as written for a 9 x 13 pan since my layer cake skills are non-existent. The cake was amazing! Loved the chocolate chips for a little surprise. So glad you included the option for a 9 x 13 pan because I would have missed trying this otherwise. Thanks!

  25. Great recipe. Made it for a friend’s birthday this weekend and was really pleased with it. Probably one of the most chocolately chocolate cakes I have made.

  26. I made this the other day for my husband’s birthday. He requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and I thought this would be perfect. The zucchini definitely makes us feel less guilty about eating it. 🙂 The cake is moist and beyond delicious! Thanks for yet another great recipe!

  27. Hi Sally!
    My, what a delicious cake recipe!! I did change the pan it baked in and instead baked it in a bundt pan while increasing the time by almost triple at 350 in the oven. It came out amazing and talk about ooey gooey! I would related this cake more so to a brownie’s sibling because of how moist and tight crumbed it is. Thank you so much!!

  28. Yes, I made this. Great cake but cut back the sugar to 3/4 cup white and 3/4 c coconut sugar. I used 1 Cup of white flower and 1 Cup of sprouted grain flour. It was still plenty sweet and will cut back the sugar further next time. I also wanted it thinner so divided into two 9X 13 pans. It was perfect. Great chocolate flavor and would never know it contained zucchini.

  29. Good god this is a good cake. It is probably the moistest chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted. The only thing I found is a lot of the chocolate chips sunk to the bottom of the pan, and when the cakes were turned out, they stuck in the pan. I used your chocolate fudge frosting recipe, delicious. Now I can’t stop eating it!

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