Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Also try this double chocolate zucchini bread!
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
√ with chocolate goodies on top (choc chips and ch0c sprinkles!)
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.
- Eggs. 4 of them. Remember room temperature is important.
- Sour cream or plain yogurt– the real moist-makers!
- Brown sugar instead of all white sugar. Brown sugar not only provides moisture, but flavor as well. Fave ingredient in the kitchen!
- 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.
- 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!
I used Ateco #30 tip for the piping.
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.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
*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.
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Also try these as cupcakes! Directions in the recipe notes.
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