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The wonderfully unfussy, absurdly delicious chocolate zucchini cake adapted from the Volante Farms cookbook is the best way we know to use up an abundance of zucchini and eat chocolate cake at the same time. No mixer needed.
Why we love this recipe
Chocolate zucchini cake (or chocolate courgette cake) has that low-key summery vibe that I'm always craving. It uses up a lot of zucchini without really making a big deal out of it, which is ideal as the summer months wane on.
This cake is:
- Moist and tender, due to both the zucchini and the use of oil in the recipe
- Deep and chocolatey. It's made with cocoa powder and studded with bittersweet chips.
- Make-ahead friendly
- Easy to make in one bowl. You don't need a mixer — just a fork.
- Big but not huge, which makes me happy
- Great for dessert of course, but also an amenable breakfast. It has a sneaky coffeecake vibe somehow.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make chocolate courgette cake.
- You can shred the zucchini on the big holes of a box grater or in a food processor with the shredding disk. Either way, it goes pretty quickly. I often just use the box grater because cleanup is easier.
- For the oil, I prefer safflower, but any neutral-tasting vegetable oil is fine. Peanut, canola, sunflower, or a vegetable blend would work.
- Use regular unsweetened cocoa powder, not Dutch process.
- For the chocolate chips, I like to use Ghirardelli or Guittard large bittersweet ones. You ca use your favorite.
How to make it
This cake couldn't be easier to put together. It happens in one bowl, and you don't need a mixer. I usually beat everything together with a fork! Here's what you'll do. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post.
- Mixing the shredded zucchini with some sugar and letting it sit in a strainer for 10 minutes draws out a surprising amount of moisture. This is a critical, but super-easy, step.
- Mix the wet ingredients and stir in the zucchini.
- Add the dry ingredients to the bowl. I like to stir them together at the top of the bowl first before mixing with the wet ingredients.
- Scrape the batter into a prepared cake pan. (You'll spray the pan, line it with a parchment round, and spray the parchment. That way the cake comes out of the pan very easily!)
Expert tips and FAQs
Like applesauce and bananas, zucchini contributes moistness and a great texture to a wide variety of baked goods while packing a nutritional punch.
Yup, you really do. Zucchini contains a ton of moisture, and you don’t want that in your cake batter.
You sure can! It stays nice and moist thanks to the zucchini and the oil. You can easily bake it up to 24 hours in advance. Wait until just before serving to top with powdered sugar.
You can keep this cake covered on the counter for several days. Psst...leftovers make a great breakfast!
The Volante Farms Cookbook
Volante Farms is a beautiful, storied market that's right around the corner from my sister's house in Needham, Massachusetts. We never miss a chance to visit.
In 2017, they published the Volante Farms Cookbook, which is organized by season and contains many of the recipes sold at the market's prepared foods counter. It's a lovely book, and I'd recommend buying it if you love cooking with produce.
Volante Farms also inspired these Pumpkin Whoopie Pies I made last fall and will definitely make again
More favorite zucchini recipes
Hi, name is Carolyn, and I eat a LOT of zucchini. Here are some of our family's other favorite ways to do it.
- Savory fritters with corn and feta
- A creamy, dreamy spread
- Spiralized noodles with: turkey meat sauce // lemon caper butter // summer vegetables
- Camille Kingsolver’s orzo
- Savory quick bread with cheddar
- Sheet pan pizza with pesto
- Quick curry with chickpeas
- Thai red curry with vegetables
More favorite chocolate cakes
Just looking for chocolate cake, hold the veggies? Here are our other favorites.
- 3 cups (400 grams) grated zucchini
- 2 ⅔ cups (526 grams) sugar, divided
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup (237 ml) safflower or other neutral-tasting vegetable oil
- 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- ¾ cup (60 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, spooned and leveled
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking soda
- 1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¾ cup (135 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
- Preheat oven to 325°F with a rack in the center. Butter or spray a 9-inch round cake pan (I have one like this, or try one of these) with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper and butter or spray that too.
- In a strainer, toss zucchini with 1 cup of the sugar and let sit for 10 minutes to drain. Use your hands to squeeze out all the liquid you can.
- In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with a fork, then beat in zucchini and oil.
- Sprinkle in the flour, remaining 1 ⅔ cups sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Use the fork to stir the dry ingredients together a bit and then incorporate into the wet ingredients, mixing gently until well combined.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Scrape batter into pan and spread evenly.
- Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the center doesn't jiggle and a tester comes out clean unless you hit a chocolate chip.
- Cool in pan on a rack for at least 40 minutes before removing from pan to cool completely.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve at room temperature.
- Adapted from the Volante Farms Cookbook.
- Some of the sugar from the cup that you mix with the zucchini will inevitably fall through the strainer. Don't worry about it.
- Occasionally, when removed from the oven after 50 minutes, this cake falls a bit in the middle. It's meant to be rustic and still looks beautiful, so I don't mind it. You can bake it longer to ensure that won't happen.
- Make this cake up to 24 hours in advance.
- Keep any leftovers covered on the counter for several days.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 519Total Fat: 24.8gCarbohydrates: 73.7gFiber: 3.6gProtein: 6.6g