We have entered into the time of the summer where zucchini is plentiful. And by plentiful, I mean like a crazy band of procreating feral cats. The first two or three kittens are so damn cute — but then they just become a nuisance that not even your neighbors or co-workers want. You know the scene in the office kitchen … right next to the tupperware container that has random packets of soy sauce, non-dairy creamer, and ketchup in it, there is a nice big basket of zucchini free for the taking. If you cook at all, you might take one or two because they are free. But after you’ve sauteed a few and made some zucchini bread, you pretty much walk by that nice basket wishing that someone had planted way too much corn.
And if you are the person who actually has the zucchini surplus, you basically turn into a mildly insane person willing to try anything to use up the four or five you are plucking from the garden everyday. Mock crabcakes? Sure. Mock apple pie? Hell yes. Zucchini pickles? Absolutely. It’s just too bad that someone hasn’t figured out how to distill vodka from zucchini. I am sure it’s not from a lack of trying.
I know this all because I have been receiving somewhat crazed emails from people asking for zucchini recipes. And the first one that came to mind was a chocolate zucchini cake that I made a few years ago from our CSA recipe files. I decided to pull it back out and modify it so that it was actually healthy — beyond just the hidden veggies. So, my version is made with whole wheat pastry flour and has much less sugar. The original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups — I have cut it back to 1/2 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of sugar. I also used half butter and half coconut oil.
Shredding the zucchini is quick work in the food processor, but it can certainly be done by hand too. I don’t even bother peeling them. And if you have any shredded zucchini left over (and I know you will), freeze it in containers — I mix it into soups and chilis all year long and it is a veggie booster that you hardly know is there.
The resulting cake is really great though — very moist and delicate. It reminds you a bit of the old Texas Sheet Cake or a chocolate snack cake. And given the modifications, it can actually be a decent snack for the kids that they will like way more than mock crabcakes.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Makes one 9×13 cake
1/2 cup of butter, softened
1/2 cup of coconut oil (brought to liquid state, can also use canola oil in place of it)
1/2 cup of honey
1/4 cup of sugar
1 t vanilla
1/2 cup of milk (at least 2%)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
5 T cocoa
2 t baking soda
2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (unpeeled, tightly packed)
6-8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter a 9×13 inch glass pan and set aside.
2. Prepare wet and dry ingredients: In a small bowl, combine milk and lemon juice. Whisk in egg and vanilla. In another separate small bowl, combine whole wheat pastry flour, cocoa, and baking soda.
3. In a large bowl, cream together butter, coconut oil, honey, and sugar with an electric mixer. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk mixture in about three separate additions. Mix until just combined and then switch to a wooden spoon or spatula.
4. Stir in shredded zucchini and pour into prepared pan. Bake at 325 F for about 40 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chopped chocolate over surface of hot cake. As the chocolate melts, spread evenly and let cool completely before slicing. (You may want to throw it in the fridge for a bit to harden the chocolate.)
(Possible variations: add some espresso powder, replace vanilla extract with almond extract, or stir some extra chocolate chunks/chips or nuts into batter.)