Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Zucchini is cheap and plentiful at the farmer's market and lucky there is a plethora of recipes to go with the bumper crop of summer squash available. Zucchini bread is a good place to start, but there are many more sweet and savory zucchini recipes out there just begging to be tried this summer.

I would happily have dessert every day if I wasn't thinking of my health. I really enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, but they are no substitute for ice cream or cake. I eat pretty healthy most of the time, always allowing myself some indulgences, and when it comes to desserts I don't swap out butter, cream, or sugar for "healthier" options if they reduce the quality of the desserts. As with alcohol, I'd rather have a small amount of something really good than more of something mediocre. That being said, I love it when a dessert is both delicious and has some healthy components. While I wouldn't call chocolate zucchini cake healthy, it does have zucchini and heart-healthy walnuts. I also swapped out one cup of the all-purpose flour for one cup of white whole wheat flour, so it contains some whole grains, and swapped out vegetable for more healthy canola oil. And let's not forget all the antioxidants and mood-boosting chemicals in cocoa and dark chocolate! If I can enjoy a rich, chocolaty, almost brownie-like cake while sneaking in some vegetables, all the better.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
adapted from Epicurious, who got it from Bon Appetit

1.25 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 c. white whole wheat flour (use more all-purpose if you don't have any)
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1.75 c. sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c. canola oil
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. buttermilk or sour milk
2 c. grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2.5 medium)
6 oz. (about 1 cup) bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli 60% cacao chocolate chips)
3/4 c. chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. 

2. Beat sugar, butter and oil in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions each. Mix in grated zucchini. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over.

3. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan.

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