I was incredulous the first time I heard the words “Zucchini Bread” at my adopted Jewish grandmother’s apartment some 15 years ago. Her name is Sophie and she was my mother’s confidant, advisor, protector and friend for many years. She taught her the value of saving. She raised two children during the Depression. She told my mother, every week she set aside $0.50. She grew such a small sum into stake in a multi-million dollar company and a condo in a luxury apartment building in downtown Manhattan. So when she talked, we listened:
- “Eat Romaine lettuce, not iceberg. It’s all water.”
- “Ya ever tried zucchini bread? It’s delicious.”
- “Take care of ya mother. She works hard.”
Right on all counts. Take it one step further with chocolate zucchini cake. I was skeptical when a mom brought zucchini brownies to a play date. But it had such deep chocolate flavor! And it was moist! And magical! I realize that zucchini’s blandness kind of works in its favor in baked goods. Between that and the water content, it’s the perfect vessel for delivering a rich, moist, chocolate crumb. I was nervous as I folded the 3 cups into the batter, that those eating the cake would see slivers of green running throughout, but it melted right into the cake. And with that much veg content, you don’t feel like the world’s worst parent when your kid (and husband) reaches for it throughout the day.
Adapted barely from King Arthur Flour.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick) at room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt (next time I would try increasing this to 1 tsp!)
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt (I used buttermilk)
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa*
- 3 cups shredded zucchini
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9″x13″ baking pan.
- Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir gently to combine.
- In a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat butter at medium high speed until light and airy – about 1 minute. Lower the speed to medium low and gradually add half the sugar, then oil, then remaining sugar. Add vanilla, then eggs, one at a time, until incorporated fully. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Turn on the mixer briefly once more to incorporate everything.
- At low speed, add half of the flour/cocoa mixture. Then slowly pour in the buttermilk (or sour cream or yogurt). Add the rest of the dry ingredients.
- Remove bowl from stand mixer and fold in the zucchini with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. When fully incorporated, pour into greased pan and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool.
- Heat heavy cream in a saucepan until scalding hot (bubbles appear around the perimeter). Pour over the chocolate chips and stir until it becomes a spreadable ganache. Pour and spread evenly over cooled cake.
*Dutch process cocoa, though harder to find, is essential for that deep chocolate flavor. When you use a quality cocoa powder, it makes all the difference between a standard chocolate cake and a gourmet one. Can be purchased online.