Chocolate zucchini cake is rich, ultra-moist and the perfect cake for the chocolate lover in your life.
Although it’s only mid-August, my social feeds are full of pumpkin and apple recipes already and I’m over here like, can we just enjoy the last couple of weeks of summer?
While I can’t get behind the pumpkin recipes just yet (gimme two weeks), I can totally get behind the zucchini recipes, especially when my neighbors passed along two of them straight from their garden last week.
This chocolate zucchini cake is rich and delicious and I promise you, even my zucchini-hating husband had no idea it was packed with over 2 cups of freshly grated zucchini!
ULTRA-RICH CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE
I’m the only one in my household who likes zucchini in its natural state.
This means that when I end up with extra zucchini, I’m better off hiding it in baked goods like zucchini banana bread, chocolate zucchini muffins, and this chocolate zucchini cake.
Nothing like sneaking a little zucchini into a chocolate cake, right? I guess cake kind of defeats the purpose of eating a vegetable, but we can overlook that fact.
If you have a chocolate lover in your life, this is a must-make even if that chocolate lover happens to be a zucchini hater. I promise, they won’t be able to detect the zucchini – especially if you shred it super fine.
This chocolate zucchini cake is rich, ultra-moist, and fudgy. I’ve served the cake up with just a simple dusting of powdered sugar, but it really reaches its full potential with a layer of silky ganache.
I mean, more is always more, right?
HOW TO MAKE THIS CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE
If you love the best chocolate cake and black magic cake, you have to give this recipe a try. Let’s talk through how to make it!
Ingredients you’ll need
There are a few key ingredients in this recipe that help to make it super moist and fudgy:
Vegetable oil: This recipe uses a bit of butter for flavor combined with vegetable oil for texture. Because cocoa powder can often dry out cakes, using vegetable oil helps combat that and keep the cake moist.
Sour cream: Remember how in my post on how to make buttermilk we talked about using sour cream as a substitute for buttermilk? Sour cream also keeps the cake moist and adds a lovely tangy flavor.
Shredded zucchini: Zucchini has a good amount of water in it, so it always lends a nice rich texture to any baked good you put it in!
Chocolate chips: To make this cake extra chocolatey and fudgy, we’ll add chocolate chips in addition to the cocoa powder. You’ll love those little pockets of chocolate throughout the cake!
Other ingredients you’ll need for this cake include:
- Granulated sugar
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- All-purpose flour
- Dutch-process cocoa
Make sure you know how to measure flour properly so you always have success with this recipe!
What is dutch-process cocoa powder?
There are two main kinds of cocoa powder: natural cocoa and dutch-process cocoa.
Dutch-process cocoa has been treated to reduce the acidity of the cocoa powder, which gives it a darker color and less bitter flavor than natural cocoa.
Using dutch-process cocoa in this recipe will help give it that deep, rich color and help avoid any bitter flavor. It will be pure, sweet, chocolate goodness!
If you don’t have dutch-process cocoa on hand, simply use your favorite unsweetened cocoa powder and add in an extra ½ teaspoon of baking soda to the dry ingredients. Easy-peasy and no need to make a special run to the store.
Making this recipe
In a bowl, cream together the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
I know that this order of operations is a bit different than what we’re used to with most cake recipes, but trust me – it works.
Add in the eggs, then alternate stirring in the sour cream with the flour. Finally, add the cocoa powder and mix until well combined and the batter is smooth.
Fold in the shredded zucchini and the chocolate chips. The batter will be quite thick!
Spread the batter in a greased 13×9-inch pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. The top of the cake should spring back lightly when touched.
Let the cake cool in the pan completely before topping with the ganache.
When you’re ready to add the ganache frosting, heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering.
Remove the cream from the heat and pour it over the chocolate chips, then whisk to combine. Be patient – it might take a few minutes for the ganache to start to come together.
The ganache will seem quite runny at first, but it will thicken as it cools. I like to let it cool until it’s just slightly warm and still pourable, then I pour it over the cake and smooth it over the top.
Let the frosting set for about 30 minutes before cutting and serving.
Because the cake is very moist and topped with a ganache, make sure to store any leftovers in the refrigerator. The cake will keep, covered in the fridge, for up to 3 days.
If you’d like to freeze the whole cake, I recommend doing so before adding the ganache. Then you can top it with the ganache after thawing and before serving.
If you want to freeze leftover slices of cake, you can wrap them tightly and freeze them for up to 1 month. Just know that the ganache frosting won’t look very pretty after it thaws, but it will still taste delicious.
Give this chocolate zucchini cake a try – it’s sure to impress any chocolate lover!
Monday 19th of September 2022
Hi there! This recipe is just beyond delicious! It is the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten! I sent this recipe to my Mom first because I knew she had zucchini in her garden to cook with. I hadn't tried it myself as of yet. She made it shortly after I sent the recipe to her and shared some with me. So kind. It was heavenly! I now have one in my oven baking and will bless her and Dad with some tonight. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe with us. I will post it to my instagram this evening too!
Thursday 22nd of September 2022
I’m so glad you love the cake, Deborah! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your feedback! Happy baking – Jamie
Thursday 18th of August 2022
Looks delicious! Can’t wait to make it. Is there a brand of dutch-process cocoa powder you recommend? I have several recipes that call for it but not sure which brand is best to order. Thanks!
Tuesday 23rd of August 2022
Hi Patricia – I don't have a particular brand I use, but you can never go wrong with King Arthur products! Hope this helps. Happy baking! Jamie
Wednesday 17th of August 2022
Looks fantastic! Would a little instant espresso powder work in this recipe?
Thursday 18th of August 2022
Hi Alicia – I haven't tried this recipe with instant espresso powder, so I'm not 100% sure of the result. If you give it a try, I'd love to know how it turns out! Happy baking! Jamie
Sunday 7th of June 2020
Is there a vegan option? Please email me the recipe. Thanks in advanced.
Wednesday 10th of June 2020
Hello! I haven't attempted this recipe as a vegan cake, so I am not sure of the best method. If you happen to give it a try, I'd love to know how it turned out. Thanks so much for stopping by. -Jamie
Tuesday 20th of August 2019
Could this be made gluten and dairy free? Thanks
Tuesday 20th of August 2019
I haven't attempted to make this recipe gluten or dairy free so I'm afraid I'm not much of a help with that. Maybe someone will chime in to assist.