Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

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.

What you saw in that recipe video was:

√ 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

159 comments

  1. Hi Sally, My 75 year old dad just loves your site! On this recent visit we made your chocolates zucchini cake, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, chewy chocolate chip cookies, and your deep dish apple pie. All are amazing! We love all your pictures and your detailed recipes.
    We are excited for you about the new addition to your family and wish you all the best!
    Christine and Smoke

    • Thank you so much for reporting back about all the recipes! I appreciate it so much. Thank you for the congrats, too!

  2. Can you use instant coffee powder instead of espresso powder like in the double chocolate zucchini bread? It called for 2x as much instant coffee powder as espresso powder in the bread, and I was curious if it would be the same ratio in the cake??
    PS: I have made 4 batches of double chocolate zucchini bread and 4 batches of your award winning zucchini bread, and we can’t stay out of them! I had to stick half of the loaves in the freezer to keep us from eating them

  3. In this double chocolate zucchini cake… is the chocolate that is piped on top the same as the ftosting? In the picture it looks a different color (darker).

  4. I am wondering if this fluffy brown sugar icing would be good on this cake instead of chocolate frosting. My husband loves fluffy brown sugar icing and I want to make this cake for his birthday.
    http://www.iwashyoudry.com/fluffy-brown-sugar-icing/?m

  5. any idea as to the calories etc./nutrition info for the double chocolate zucchini bread? I substituted sugar free chocolate chips and egg beaters and Splenda and it is still delicious!

    • Hi Shelley! Calorie counting calculators online can often be inaccurate (different brands/products/etc) and I would hate to publish wrong information on my website. Sometimes I share an estimate, but that’s rare– feel free to calculate at your own discretion for the chocolate zucchini bread.

  6. Hi Sally, do you know how many slices I can get from this cake? (How many people should this serve?) Would it work if I made 50 percent extra amount of everything and make 3 layers? Thanks!

    • Hi Zuzana! Cake serves 10-12. You can try to 1.5x the recipe. I don’t see an issue from that, though I’ve never tried it before.

  7. Sally, I made this cake and oh my gosh it is amazing. I froze part of it with icing on it and it did great. I took it to my Sissy and first bite her eyes rolled back in her head. Her son is getting married next year and she told me THIS IS IT! We are on the search for cakes to make for the rehearsal dinner and she wants me to make them for her. She said This is the one for the Grooms Cake! If her son falls for it the way she did. But she has to stay out of the rest of it for him to try it. haha. I have a feeling I will be making at least one or two more of your cakes for the rest of the dinner but we are still in the deciding fase. You have made me such a Hero! I have found the extra ingredient in everything is The Love! Or least she says so. Oh i made your double choc zucchini bread and regular zucchini bread in one day (double batches) also. Oh my goodness they are so amazing. She says the double choc. is Nervana! They freeze well so that makes it even better. Thanks! I didnt use coffee in mine as we hate coffee and it was still great.

  8. I am now making another batch. Second one in 2 weeks. Really great cake! Everyone I have a piece to loved it!  

  9. Hi,this cake seems delicious.love the pics.I had a few doubts,it would be great if you could help…please….really want to eat this cake

    1.Will this cake taste yummy and chocolaty without the icing?
    2.Can we reduce the sugar in the cake,as my family do not like very sweet cakes?
    3.Can this recipe be halved?
    4.Can I use 4 medium eggs instead of 4 large ones or do I use 5 medium eggs?

    Thanks a lot in advance for your help.

    • Here to help! 1) I’m sure it would, yes. 2) You can try, though the texture may be compromised. 3) I can’t see why not! 4) I’d use 5 medium eggs.

  10. Hi There, cannot wait to make this cake. I have a question, should I express the moisture out of the zucchini? , Or leave it as is shredded. Thanks in advance.

  11. I was in a baking mood this weekend and saw this on my facebook feed and thought I had to try it. Since there is only two of us I halved the recioe and cooked in two 6 inch tins. I used a sour cream chocolate crosting with melted milk and dark chocolate. The cake was very moist and my husband loved it. You can’t taste the zucchini! Thanks Sally again for a great recipe. Good luck with your new addition.

  12. I just baked this cake for my 25th Wedding Anniversary, tomorrow. Is it absolutely necessary to let the layers cool completely in the pans? This is a first for me. Thanks!

  13. We have an overload of zucchini in our garden this year and it just so happened to be my dad’s birthday yesterday. He’s a huge chocolate fan so it only seemed right to make a chocolate zucchini cake with chocolate icing. And boy! Are we ever glad we chose your recipe! It was a huge success in our family and everyone went crazy for the moist chocolate cake… Let’s just say there is no more cake left today. Next up, we’re going to try your double chocolate zucchini bread.
    Thanks for the wonderful recipe! It’s a keeper for sure 🙂

  14. LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe!❤️❤️❤️

  15. Can i subtitute natural cocoa with dutch cocoa and remove the baking soda and replace them with twice amount baking powder? 

  16. I found this recipe/site while looking for something to do with the zucchini from the garden. This sounds and look delicious. I was wondering if this would bake correctly in loaf pans–maybe 2 or 3.

  17. Hi! I want to bake a chocolate cake this weekend, but can’t decide between this chocolate zucchini recipe or your triple chocolate layer cake recipe. Could you tell me how the results of each one will differ in terms of taste/texture etc? Thanks!

    • They are both rich and moist and you can’t go wrong either way!! The chocolate zucchini cake has chocolate chips inside the batter so if you want more texture try this one.

  18. I made this for my brother in laws birthday last week but didn’t tell anyone there was zucchini in it. I received so many compliments, including one from my dad saying I’d “outdone myself this time, best cake ever”. He absolutely detests zucchini with a passion! His face when I told him was priceless! 🙂

  19. Could this be baked in a bundt pan? If so, what temperature and time do you suggest?

  20. OMG! i have watched the video of the chocolate zucchini cake like 50 time and i keep watching. Almost eating the cake as i am watching…actually drooling right now. I am in the office and can’t wait to go home and try it out. Its absolutely gorgeous….

  21. Hi….I want to make the Chocolate Zucchini Cake & I want to use espresso powder…. I have looked in the grocery stores in the coffee area but I don’t see it.
    What kind of a container does it come in?

    Also you suggest chocolate fudge frosting or vanilla frosting…so I clicked on it and it brought me to a page that had Milk chocolate frosting….where do I find the chocolate fudge frosting recipe?

    Please reply. Thanks.

    • Hi Patricia, The espresso powder usually comes in a can or jar and in my local stores is on the shelf next to the instant coffees. The chocolate fudge frosting IS the milk chocolate frosting – they are one in the same! 🙂

  22. I was ecstatic finding your recipe. I searched all over for my late Mum’s recipe but couldn’the find it. It is cooling on the counter and I am anxious to see how close it is to Mum’s!!

  23. So this cake is amazing! All I had was Hershey’s dark cocoa powder so I used that in the cake and frosting and it was amazing. So moist and rich. Thank you for the recipe! This is the exact kind of texture and moistness I want in my chocolate cake and sometimes a homemade chocolate cake doesn’t always result in it… at least for me. But this one does not disappoint!

  24. Hey Sally. Made your Chocolate Courgette Cake yesterday and it was amazing! Probably the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted. Thank you so much. I love your recipes & website. Lots of love from the UK. x

  25. I’ve tried a lot of zucchini chocolate cakes over the years, but this one is my favourite by far…just awesome! I made it in a 9×13 pan, and the only change I made was to use 1/2 cup milk choc chips and 1/2 cup semi.

  26. Hi Sally  
    Would you recommend the chocolate zucchini or the super moist chocolate cupcakes for a chocolate lovers birthday ? 
    I’m torn between the two brand new chocolate recipes! 
    Thanks! 

  27. Just made this cake with the chocolate frosting. I made it exactly as shown but did not add the espresso. It is absolutely amazing and super moist.

  28. This was a really great, moist cake with a great texture. I followed the recipe but omitted the chocolate chips and the espresso powder and also baked it in a half sheet pan (18×13) for 25 min and it came out great–similar to a Texas sheet cake and perfect for a large gathering! Thanks for the recipe…next time I think I will add a t. of cinnamon to the mix:)

  29. Hi Sally!
    So I made this cake last week (frosting & all) for my sister’s birthday & just had to let you know how incredible it was.  So so so so so goooooood!!!  The espresso powder is EVERYTHING!  It was super moist fluffy cake & such amazing chocolate flavor without being super sweet.  I even got yelled at by my brother in law for (& I quote) “making such delicious cake”. 🙂
    Thank You!!

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