Chocolate Cake Day is January 27th, so…celebrate! The secret ingredient that makes this cake so utterly moist and delicious is a secret no longer: yes, the ever-abundant zucchini makes this single-layer cake a real standout. Your friends and family will never know they’re getting a healthy serving of veggies with their dessert; they’ll be too busy experiencing chocolate ecstasy. So if you have an extra zucchini or two hanging around (don’t we all?), this is a wonderfully subversive use for it!
3 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, softened
3/4 cup organic sugar, or less, according to taste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini or summer squash
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan and dust with some unsweetened cocoa powder.
2. Melt the chocolate along with the oil in a double boiler or in a saucepan over low heat, taking care not to scorch.
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium mixing bowl.
4. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk, beating until combined, then fold in the chocolate and oil mixture, and the zucchini.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes on a wire rack, then invert it on the rack, remove the pan, and cool completely.
5. May be served plain, iced with your favorite icing, dusted with organic confectioners’ sugar, or with fresh raspberries nestled around it.
Serves 8 to 10.
Inspired by The Classic Zucchini Cookbook, by Nancy C. Ralston, Marynor Jordan, and Andrea Chesman (Storey Books, 2002).