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Moist Chocolate Zucchini Cake

October 19, 2010

Here’s a sentiment you’re not apt to come across very often: no more chocolate cake.

A warning to my loyal readers (all 8 of you): The Chocolate Cake Project I didn’t know I signed up for has reached an end. So if you come here just to ogle pictures of naked or scantily clad chocolate cake, first: you should be ashamed of yourself, and second: you may want to direct your browsers elsewhere for the near future. There will be no more chocolate cake at The Shortlists for an as of yet undetermined amount of time. Possibly until February when Francesco’s birthday rolls around and I succumb to the yearly torture known as Sacher Torte. But that’s a story for another day. A day far, far away when I once again feel a sense of novelty, of treat, of occasion associated with chocolate cake.

Let’s recap, shall we?

There was the simple one with vanilla frosting and the pruney birthday one with chocolate ganache. Now the final installation of The Chocolate Cake Project comes in the form of an extremely moist zucchini one with orange glaze. And this, believe it or not, may be the best of the lot.

Unnecessarily titled Fudgy Orange-Zucchini Cake with Orange Glaze by its creator, the P-Patch Cookbook Committee, the real flavor of this cake is chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. But wait! What was that about zucchini?

Yes, zucchini. And not just a dapple of zucchini. THREE CUPS of the stuff. But get this: the zucchini – which makes up the bulk of the batter – is barely noticeable. So barely that it took my friend John the gourmand about 7 guesses to guess right (other guesses: liquor, yogurt, mashed pear). So barely that I assure you that, upon tasting it, no child will hurl the cake across the room running in circles screaming “ZUCCHINI!!!!!!!!” before collapsing in a heap on the floor.

Why ruin a good thing with zucchini, you ask? Why try to healthifize the epitome of get-near-me-when-I’m-eating-this-and-risk-incurring-fork-puncture-wounds? Why mess with chocolate cake?!

To be honest, I didn’t want to make another chocolate cake. I had a ton of zucchini in the fridge and after endless trolling around for reliable zucchini cake recipes, I kept coming back to this. 56 positive reviewers can’t be wrong! I thought. After running my options by him, even Francesco, taste puritan though he is, preferred this one over the other options (he is usually rendered helpless by the word “fudgy”). If you’re still not convinced, think of the zucchini as a true secret ingredient. No one needs to know what you put in your chocolate cake it make it so moist and delightful and chances are no one will guess.

And there you have it, ending The Chocolate Cake Project on a high note: a recipe that seemingly turns chocolate cake on its head (zucchini!) while actually elevating it to previously unknown heights.

I hope this doesn’t mean you’ll stop reading the blog. I promise we’ll eventually make more chocolate cake. In the meantime, and in the spirit of fairness, we will be giving lots more variety of cake their time to shine, crumble, ooze and surprise .

(printable recipe here)


One batch made enough for a shallow bundt pan and two small loaf pans. I served it for dessert with whipped cream and strawberries and have been having it for breakfast and afternoon snack ever since. The recipe calls for an orange glaze which I made but have since decided is unnecessary. I’ll include it, but rest assured that the cake is plenty moist on its own.

Recipe from P-Patch Cookbook Committee, found in The City Gardener’s Cook Book, courtesy of Epicurious


2 1/2 cups flour
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 (170 grams) butter
2 cups sugar (I used 1 3/4 cups)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup milk
3 cups grated zucchini
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (I also added 1 tsp nutmeg)
1 cup chopped nuts (I excluded this altogether [I hate nuts] but feel free to switch in chocolate chips instead)


Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together and set aside. In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla and milk to the butter mixture. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Fold in the zucchini, orange zest and nuts. Pour into a greased and floured bundt cake pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes (or less if you’re using a smaller pan). Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes before turning out onto a rack.
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioner’ sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
To make the glaze, in a bowl mix together the sugar, orange juice and vanilla. While the cake is still warm, drizzle with the glaze. Garnish with flowers or mint sprigs.
6 Comments leave one →
  1. Tricia permalink
    October 19, 2010 8:48 am

    Can’t wait to try this! I had a great recipe for choc. zucchini cake when we lived in Venezuela and have since lost it. I think about it every summer when there is a large number of green squash in everyone’s garden. Love your blog by the way ~ you’re amazing! LOL

  2. Carol permalink
    October 19, 2010 9:49 am

    This cake looks amazing!! But you forgot to make the recipe printable!! It sure makes life easier. Otherwise, another outstanding post – I want some.

    • October 19, 2010 10:16 am

      Hi Carol! This cake is amazing…and the printable recipe can be found at Epicurious, the link’s there now! Let me know how it turns out if you make it!


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