I waffled on calling this a zucchini bread which would be the norm when a vegetable, sugar and loaf pan are involved but I’ve never quite understood why delicious cakes are relegated to bread status (Not bread-hating! Time and place, people. Time and place). Is it the pan? The idea that if you stuff a vegetable in it and call it bread, it’s not just for dessert? It’s so much more “good mother” to offer your kids a slice of bread for breakfast than cake, no?
Not being on the slate for Mother of the Year, I call it cake but make sure the Locusts see me stuff all the zucchini into it, hoping they’ll lose interest. Doesn’t work. Somewhere between the mixing in of the mountain of shredded vegetables and cutting that first barely cooled slice, there is no identifiable evidence left to turn off even the most hard-core veggie hater, just the moistness the zucchini provides. Even if you’re not feeding suspect vegetable haters in need of subterfuge, consider this a useful addition to your repertoire. It is a great way to use up all the August zucchini pouring in.
Onto the recipe…
Shred enough zucchini (in this case one very large), peel and all, on the large holes of a grater to pack 2 cups. Don’t be timid. I’ve actually gone over by 1/2 a cup just to finish off an entire veg. If I’m in the zone and go way overboard with the shredding, I put the extra zucchini into whatever else I’m making: tuna salad? yup. Scrambled eggs? sure. Rice for tadhig? mmm hmm. The stuff melts into oblivion if cooked and really is neutral enough to blend into the background; hence this cake.
Caveat and odd tidbit about my life: When I was a kid my mother (who is otherwise undisputed queen of the salad bowl) would occasionally swap in a zucchini for the cucumber in our dinner salad. Now THAT is unacceptable. Texture’s wrong. Flavor’s wrong. Bletch. Don’t do that. I have no idea if she still does that; I hope not but will have to ask. Also, no raw sliced button mushrooms in salad. It just ruins the whole thing. I digress, sorry. I have many food rules … in case you were curious.
The cocoa and chocolate chips make this cake … whelp, chocolate. The espresso powder – thank you Ina Garten for this hint!! – deepens the chocolate flavor and the cinnamon – thank you wild hair that worked out!! – adds a nice, almost savory, warmth that balances the sweetness of the chocolate.
Everyone into the pool! You might see this and think I’ve lost my mind. You may be correct on that point but this recipe wouldn’t be the proof you need. Stir it in, grasshopper. You will see.
Not helping my case here, eh? Yes, this looks like a gawd-awful mess that has wasted your last half-cup of fantastic Bensdorp cocoa powder (or Hershey’s if that’s your druther). Again, grasshopper, patience. Schploop it into the baking pan and cross your fingers… kidding. Schploop it into the baking pan and sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate chips and prepare to be amazed.
I’m a 2/3 chocolate chips in and 1/3 on top kind of gal. You do you, including and up to all chips in and none on top. It’s all delicious. And while we’re here, please note the parchment sling. I’ve sprayed non-stick spray into the pan and then placed the sling before adding the cake batter. After cooling in the pan 15 minutes, you just grab the sling at either end and pull the cake out without disturbing melted chocolate chips with your thumbs which, if you’re at all wackadoodle about thumb-smashes, will have you then take a knife to spread the other chips to even things out by attempting a frosting look but won’t like it because it’s not enough for a frosting but then again not free-form-drippy enough for a drizzle. Use the parchment and avoid it all! That being said, if you don’t have parchment – NO! DON’T use waxed paper – you’ll need to run a thin knife around the four sides and, as carefully as possible, tip the pan to one side and kind of shimmy the cake out before upturning it to keep the chocolate chips undisturbed.
Up close and personal. See any zucchini, grasshopper?
The glass of milk is for Locust the Younger’s enjoyment. Me? I like a nice strong coffee, espresso if you’re pouring, alongside this most delicious cake. If you’re serving it for breakfast, feel free to revert back to its default name and tell folks it’s bread. As always, please let me know if you bake it; constructive criticism – and notes to let me know my recipe is missing something (thanks TF!) – always appreciated. I love to learn.
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE (recipe inspired by Two Peas & Their Pod)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp (to 1 TBS if mild) instant espresso powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt, I use Diamond Crystal
1/4 cup unsalted butter melted and slightly cooled
1/4 cup canola or other neutral oil
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp real vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups packed shredded zucchini (including skin)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips divided
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Grease a 9×5” loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray, add a parchment sling if you have it, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter (I generally melt the butter right in my large glass bowl), canola oil, vanilla, brown sugar, and eggs until smooth.
Switch to a large spoon and stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined. Add the shredded zucchini until evenly distributed; it will look more zucchini than chocolate batter; this is right.
Stir 2/3 to 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips into the batter (depends on how many you’d like on top – I do 2/3 in). Scoop the batter into the loaf pan and even out. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips evenly over the top of the batter. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a skewer poked into the center of the loaf comes out without wet batter. You might see melted chocolate chips which is fine.
Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire cooling rack in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edges of the loaf and carefully remove from the pan (this is where the sling comes in handy since you can just pull it out) and let cool chocolate-chip side up on the cooling rack until room temperature or as long as you can wait. The longer it cools, the less likely it is to crumble. [Ask me how I know.] Slice and enjoy!