Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Sometimes, I admit, I buy things out of convenience, especially if it means stopping at one less store on a busy day. A giant package of zucchini from Trader Joes is one such recent purchase. I really only need two of the seven zucchini taking up space in the refrigerator, but buying the big pack saved me a few minutes. I vowed to use it up, however, so I started thumbing through my binder of recipes looking for inspiration. I thought of zucchini bread but one of my daughters doesn’t care for it, so I had to dig deeper into my recipe files. Zucchini fritters? Sounds delicious, though I’m guessing that wouldn’t be appreciated by the youngest eaters.

I came across a recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cake from Bon Appétit. It’s been several years since I’ve made it, but I remember liking it. My marked up recipe had some notes on it from other users’ reviews including things like using whole wheat flour for part of the flour, reducing the sugar, and substituting applesauce for the butter. One user even used plain yogurt instead of buttermilk, which worked for me as I didn’t have any buttermilk on hand. I combined these changes and substitutions in my version of Chocolate Zucchini Cake this week. And because I’m just that way, I threw in some ground flax seeds. I must say it was delicious and the kids agree, and they’re pretty picky about their cake. They tend to favor ones that aren’t too sweet and this seems to fit the bill. It’s mildly sweet, but yet has characteristics of cake-like brownies with moist little pockets of melty chocolate chips.

And yes, it’s still a treat, but as a mom, I kind of like that it’s got the healthier elements of zucchini, whole grains, and flax in it. So should you ever have a bumper crop of zucchini at your house, you might want to check this treat out!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake (inspired by a recipe from Bon Appétit) — print the recipe

Makes a 9×13 cake, so depending on how your cut it, 18-24 pieces

  • 2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour (or 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour + 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2 1/2 medium)
  • 1 6-ounce package (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a 9×13 baking pan.

Combine flour(s), cocoa powder, flax seed (if using), soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set that bowl aside.

In another larger bowl combine sugar, applesauce and oil. Stir until these ingredients are well incorporated. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and combine well.

Alternate adding flour and yogurt in three portions to the egg mixture. Stir until the flour is well incorporated. Add zucchini, chocolate chips, and nuts if using. The mixture will be very thick. Spread it into prepared baking pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

Let it cool 20-3o minutes before cutting. But I won’t blame you if you can’t wait that long!

To Freeze: After slicing, put individual pieces on a parchment lined cookie sheet and then into the freezer for a few hours before putting into freezer containers/bags.

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2 comments on “Chocolate Zucchini Cake

  1. Jae says:

    Mmm… chocolate and zucchini… two delicious things that seem made for each other!

  2. Lorna says:

    Yes, it’s a nice pairing! 🙂

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