Zucchini season has arrived in a big, bad way. In the little 4×8 plot the boy and I care for (okay, he might care for it more than me), we had big plans for beans, squash, herbs, garlic, onions…the works. What do we have? A zucchini plant that’s basically grown over all the other plants, and conspired with the tomato plants to become the king and queen of the garden plot. I love tomatoes, but I’m kind of “meh” about zucchini…what the heck do we do with all of it?
After picking a particularly huge zucchini this weekend, I mentioned to the boy that I wanted to try my hand at zucchini bread. His eyes immediately lit up. “Are you making chocolate zucchini bread?” No, I wasn’t planning on that…”Well, will it have chocolate chips or frosting?” No, I’m making bread, not cake…”Oh, well Terese’s mom used to make this really great chocolate zucchini bread with chocolate chips, and it’s really amazing…” he trailed off, disappointed.
The boy’s uncharacteristically strong reaction told me that this zucchini “bread” (let’s just call it what it is…it’s cake) must be something very special. Since I’m not one to turn away from a good dessert, or really anything involving chocolate, we called the recipe holder to get the scoop.
Best. Decision. Ever.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Courtesy of Diane (Terese’s mom)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups grated zucchini
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350.
To grate the zucchini, I simply peeled off the skin and then grated from the outside in, stopping when I hit the seeds. If you have a normal-size zucchini, you may need two or three. Since I was dealing with a monster zucchini, I easily got two cups from just a single one. I mean seriously, this thing was big. For reference, here it is laying next to a 9×13 pan.
Zucchini holds a ton of water, so I put my grated zucchini in a mesh strainer while I got the other ingredients together. It doesn’t take all of the moisture out…it just makes it less heavy with liquid.
Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Use a whisk or fork to fluff all the elements together. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter with the oil and sugar. Mix in the eggs, and then beat in the buttermilk. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Once the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, add the grated zucchini.
Toss the chocolate chunks in 2 teaspoons of cornstarch. This will keep the chunks from sinking to the bottom of the cake. Fold the chocolate chunks into the batter, and then pour into a 9×13 pan.
For the topping, stir together the chocolate chips, sugar, and walnuts, then pour the mixture on top of the cake.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. It’s ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Try to resist cutting into it for about 10 minutes while it cools. I dare you.
To anyone who thinks “Zucchini in CAKE? That’s disgusting…zucchini is a vegetable. Vegetables don’t go in cake.” (ahem, mother), you need to know something about this cake: It’s heaven. Heaven in sheet cake form.
By the time the cake cooled it was just about time for us to leave for dinner. I wanted to quickly make sure it tasted as good as it looked, so we cut into an inch-size piece. After the first bite the boy started laughing joyously, while I sat silent with happiness and a mouthful of cake. Five minutes later we had nearly taken out an entire row. By the next morning, almost half of the pan had disappeared.
First you get the crunch of the sugar and walnuts on top mixed with the bittersweet chocolate pieces, then you sink into the moist, sweet cake studded with chunks of chocolate.
I mean really. It’s ridiculous.
Sure, you could take your overflow of zucchini and add it to pastas, or throw it in sandwiches, or use it as a pizza topping…but why? Why even think about doing that, when you could make something as magical as this zucchini cake?
In fact, I think someone should talk to Webster’s Dictionary about changing the definition of “insanity” to include verbiage about NOT making zucchini cake when you could easily make zucchini cake.
To answer my question from earlier, what should you do with all that zucchini? Pick the overgrown zucchini from your garden, grate it up, make this cake and avoid insanity. Easy as that.