A Squared: Mocha Zucchini Cake

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mocha Zucchini Cake

When I was kid my mom planted fruit and vegetable gardens in our backyard every summer. After a few trial runs, one summer she built the biggest one ever and planted a ton of veggies-- including like 6 zucchini plants. Have you ever grown zucchini? One plant produces a lot of zucchini. Do you know how many zucchini several plants produce? Too many.


My brother and I joke about that summer and how everything we ate somehow had zucchini hidden in it. It was in our bread, our pasta sauce, our soup, and our cake. Yes, one night my mom presented us with a chocolate cake for dessert that was chock full of zucchini. And it was really good.


Whenever summer rolls around and I see the zucchini at the farmer's market I think about my mom's misadventures in gardening and our Summer of Zucchini. So, when we were moving out of our old apartment and I found several zucchini when attempting to empty the fridge, I thought it was time for me to take the chocolate zucchini cake recipe for a test drive. I know that this cake sounds a little bizarre, but so does carrot cake if you really think about it. The shredded zucchini that gets folded into this batter really changes the texture of this cake. It's very dense, but the zucchini keeps the cake soft and moist.


Since I was making this cake for girls night (to serve after Mere's healthy salmon entree) I wanted to up the health factor in this recipe a bit. This cake is by no means healthy, but it is definitely healthier than it could be. Reduced fat cream cheese and nonfat Greek yogurt keep this cake batter moist, but eliminate some of the saturated fat of going with straight butter or oil. Whole wheat flour is subbed in for part of the dry ingredients and of course, this cake is filled with antioxident-rich dark chocolate.

Also with girls night in mind, I wanted this cake to be a little more special and decided to add some coffee and dark chocolate flavors, which was perfect. Instant espresso granules are a great way to add coffee flavor to baked goods, though many cooks will use cold brewed coffee which works just as well. I also chopped up these amazing Sharfen Berger mocha dark chocolate bars, which added another layer of coffee-chocolate goodness to the cake. The cake wasn't super sweet, but the flavors were rich and deep. Paired with a little fresh sweetened whipped cream, it was a great dessert!


Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek or sour cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. instant espresso granules
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini *from about 2 large or 3 small zucchini 
  • 8-9 oz. dark chocolate or mocha candy bars, broken into large chunks *I used 3 Scharffen Berger 62% Cacaio Mocha Dark Chocolate bars. You could also use 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • Cocoa powder, powdered sugar, chocolate frosting, or melted chocolate drizzle for topping

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Grease and flour 2 round cake pans or one 12-cup bundt pan.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until combined and fluffy. Beat the eggs into the mixture and follow by adding the yogurt/sour cream and oil. Beat until all ingredients are incorporated.

In a separate medium bowl, stir together baking soda, baking powder, salt, flours, cocoa powder, and espresso until combined. Pour into the liquid mixture and stir well to combine.

Fold the zucchini and chocolate chunks into the batter.

Pour the batter into your baking pans and bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes (or 55-60  minutes for a bundt cake). The cake should be ready when you press on the top and the cake springs back.

You could top with chocolate frosting, ganache, or drizzle. Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour 



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