Because my garden is still growing prolific quantities of (delicious) zucchinis, I’m going to assume that yours are doing the same (or that you can buy some equally delicious zucchinis at your local farmer’s market), and therefore, that you are probably tiring of stuffed zucchini, sauteed zucchini, etc. So, here I am, bringing you a new and hopefully unheard of recipe: chocolate zucchini cake. This is an old family recipe (so old, in fact, that I’m not sure whose handwriting it is on the recipe card – my grandmother’s, maybe?) and while my mom hadn’t made it in quite awhile (probably I would have rejected this as an option when I was a child, so I rather doubt she made it then), last summer she used one of the baseball bats from our yard to make a delicious cake before I went to school. This year, we kept up our new tradition, although I made it for my mom’s birthday instead.
This cake is completely delicious: few cakes that use cocoa seem to be as moist as this cake (which I think can largely be attributed to the moisture in the zucchinis). When preparing this cake, it’s easy to be a little bit leery of the stringy zucchini in your batter; however, as soon as this cake is out of the oven, you’d be hard-pressed to say that there was an unusual ingredient in the cake. For those of you who are trying to get your kids to eat their vegetables, I would tell you that, while this isn’t exactly a serving of vegetables, it’s pretty close (especially if your kids are as picky as I was about vegetables – yikes. I can only hope my own kids are more flexible about what they’ll eat).
The only other thing I’ll caution you about with this cake is that it has had a tendency to overflow its pan. As in, I’ve now made this cake twice this summer, and maybe I have bad luck it has overflowed twice. I tried a ten inch spring-form pan (which caused the greatest cake overflow I’ve ever seen, and the ensuing awful burning smell made me so worried that my smoke alarm was going to go off that I shut my cat up in my room just in case she panicked), and then later tried what I thought were two ten-inch pans (unfortunately, I am pretty sure they were nine-inch pans…so more overflowing ensued). The point that I’m trying to make here is that you should watch this cake like a hawk just in case things go terribly wrong. Be prepared to shut away children/animals in case of smoke alarms, and be ready to open all of your windows when it’s 95 degrees outside, because the only challenging thing about this cake is that it seems to be resistant to staying in its pan (this also creates some problems when you go to putting the layers on top of each other…and when you go to frost. Sheesh).
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
1/2 cup of butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups grated zucchini
Grease two 10-inch cake pans and coat liberally with cocoa powder. In the bowl of a mixer, cream butter and sugar until well combined. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients, sifting by hand. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the egg mixture and mix well. Stir in the zucchini until well combined. Pour into the two cake pans. Bake at 350 for 40-60 minutes (having not had great success keeping the cakes in the oven for the full time [due to the overflowing incidents] I can’t tell you exactly how long to back this in the two cake pans, so I recommend watching it very carefully and testing frequently)
Chocolate Ganache Frosting (From Bon Appetit)
2 cups whipping cream
1 lb 60% + dark chocolate, chopped (I’ve been cheating lately by buying the chocolate discs that Whole Foods carries…but I’ve also chopped down the whole pound of chocolate. It depends on what’s available to you, and how much time you have [however, if you choose to chop the chocolate, my dad found it very useful to use a chisel and a hammer…he’s a geologist, though, so that’s sort of how he rolls).
Place the dark chocolate in a large, microwaveable bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the whipping cream over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until it simmers. Pour the simmering cream over the top of the chocolate and allow to sit for a minute. Stir the two ingredients together until they are fully combined. Refrigerate for one and a half hours, stirring approximately every fifteen minutes. If, when you go to frost the cake, the frosting is too fudgy, put it in the microwave for about fifteen seconds, stir, and repeat as needed.