It’s a stealth cake! No one will guess there is an entire quart of shredded zucchini in this moist, deep chocolate dessert.
This is the time of year when you can find some remarkable bargains at the farm stands and markets. Zucchini now appears only as very small fruit, or a baseball-bat sized overgrown creature at almost give-away prices. There is an old joke that Vermonters only lock their doors during zucchini season to avoid and accidental drop-offs, and there certainly is some truth to this.
When I had my large kitchen garden, my sister always asked me to save her an overgrown zucchini; she knew there would be at least one forgotten under the leaves. She would shred it and tuck it in the freezer to make zucchini breads at holiday time.
More vegetable than anything else
A few years back my friend Catherine gave me a lovely recipe for a chocolate cake that uses a whopping quart of shredded zucchini. Deeply chocolate and extremely moist, it fast became a family favorite, and no one would guess it was mostly vegetable. If you have been the victim of a dry-by zucchini drop, this is a sweet way to make use of your unexpected bounty.
Decades of Delicious
Catherine does not remember where she got the recipe, but it was sometime in the late 1960s when they lived in North Troy, VT, with Jay Peak visible from their front lawn and Canada in their back yard. It’s been a regular with her family ever since, and is now for my family as well!
“I just made it for church coffee hour last Sunday when our adorable church musician was being feted as he was heading to Columbia U in NYC,” she said. “Fresh home-grown zukes are best but they’re all good!”
In this recipe, Catherine used King Arthur’s unbleached white and whole wheat flours, with some oat flour and coconut flour to make up total amount needed, so be creative! I made completely gluten- and dairy-free recently, and it came out lovely.
Use shortening, coconut oil, or butter, and any milk you like. This is all about the zucchini, even though it totally disappears into the cake. No one will know unless you tell them.
A pinch of this, and that
I added a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of espresso powder simply because I do this with all chocolate cakes. Both enhance the chocolate flavor.
Catherine’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Have ingredients at room temperature, grease and flour a Bundt pan, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- ½ cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Droste)
- 1 tsp. espresso powder or instant coffee (my addition)
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ cup shortening, coconut oil, or butter
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 4 cups grated zucchini with their liquid
- 1/2 cup milk of choice
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the shortening and sugar until the fat is crumbly.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat them until fluffy and well mixed.
Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl. It will be too thick for the mixer, so stir it in by hand with a wooden spoon.
Once thoroughly mixed, add the zucchini and mix it all in. It will be very thick, but yes, it will mix.
Add the milk and vanilla and blend.
Pour it into the prepared pan, and let it stand for ten minutes before baking.
Bake for 50-60 min. Test for doneness at 50 min.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a pretty plate.
Optional glaze: To 1/3 cup powdered sugar, add milk or lemon juice to desired consistency, one tablespoon at a time. Drizzle over the top of warm cake, letting it run down the sides.
I used confectioners and dark rum, and it was really, really good.
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