Many posts ago, I droned on and on about my list of Spring cleaning things that I needed to do. I’m sure no one lost any sleep wondering if I have tackled all of the items on that list. I got everything done except for organizing my closet. But of all the tasks, the one that is the most rewarding to me right now is the little, and I mean little, garden I planted in an area of my back yard that has previously been plagued by heavy soil and drainage issues. Some of those issues continue despite my attempts to change them, but I’ve learned that tomatoes, cucumber and zucchini thrive in this faulty yet somewhat improved soil.
I recently returned from a week of vacation to find that my zucchini had grown into gargantuan-sized clubs reminiscent of some medieval battle. A week with a heat wave and no one tending to my garden was destined to produce these results.
Now I’m left to consider the myriad of possible ways to use up these monsters. By the time I split the smallest one (which was smaller than the smallest one in this photo) down the middle and scraped out the bitter, large seeds, I was left with almost three cups of shredded zucchini, a now manageable amount. And in a home with various food preferences (read intermittently fussy kids), zucchini is one vegetable that everyone seems to enjoy. Even more so when it’s mixed into chocolate cake batter. And even more so when chocolate and orange, a pairing I can never resist, screams out to me from the list of ingredients.
This cake is delicious and green-phobics and chocoholics alike will never know there’s any zucchini in it. I have yet to see anything green appear in the crumb fallout. But what’s even better is the way all of the flavors effortlessly dance around the palate without the two-left-footed, cloying dance partner ruining your rhythm.
I started with butter and sugar into the bowl of my stand mixer with the paddle attachment and let it whip for about 4 to 5 minutes until it was light and fluffy.
After adding the eggs one by one and beating well after each, I added the coarsely shredded zucchini, orange zest and vanilla. I mixed them together with a spatula.
The mixture will take on a curdled-like appearance which is normal.
After adding in the dry ingredients alternating with milk, I stirred in the chopped walnuts and spooned the thick batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. The batter was mousse-like and found its way into my mouth often.
Once the cake cooled, I deviated from the original recipe and used my favorite powdered sugar and citrus glaze because I had to kick up the chocolate and orange combo. If that’s not your thing, I’ve linked the original recipe below.
I think next time I will try dusting the pan with cocoa. Despite my attempts to brush it off, I was not able to get the white residue of Wondra Flour* to disappear.
Since this cake was going no further than my own kitchen, I wasn’t too worried about it’s exterior. But I should be worried about my exterior with this cake hanging around. It is very hard to resist!
– * I use Wondra Flour when I grease and flour my cake pans. It is easily found on the baking isle at most grocery stores.
– The zucchini does not need to be drained or squeezed prior to incorporating into the batter. I actually think it absorbed the dry ingredients very well, but I can see how this cake could quickly become over-cooked and dry if left in the oven for the full 50 minutes. I set my timer for 43 minutes because it runs hot. I was pulling it out of the oven right at 45 minutes and think I would have been better off pulling it out a bit sooner than that.
– I used American (Hershey’s) not Dutch-processed cocoa.
– 8/2/10 update: I made this cake again yesterday and made a couple of substitutions that worked very well toward the overall moistness of this cake, something I thought was slightly lacking the first time around. I added 2 tablespoons of canola oil and substituted mini chocolate chips for the walnuts (my daughter’s request). I didn’t mind the walnuts before, but the chocolate chips made the cake more dessert-like.
– 8/15-10 update: One of my followers pointed out that I didn’t include the milk in the list of ingredients. My apologies!
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup cocoa
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup soft butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
For my own glaze, mix:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.
With a mixer, beat together the butter and the sugar until the are smoothly blended. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. With a spoon, stir in the vanilla, orange peel and zucchini.
Alternately stir the dry ingredients and the milk into the zucchini mixture, including the nuts with the last addition.
Pour the batter into a greased and flour-dusted 10-inch tube pan or bundt pan. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes (test at 45 minutes!) or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes; turn out on wire rack to cool thoroughly.
Drizzle glaze over cake.
Cut in slices to serve. Makes 10-12 slices, but then again that really depends on the size of your slices.