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Remember that old commercial for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? Two people—one eating chocolate, the other eating peanut butter—bump into each other. The chocolate gets knocked into the peanut butter, yielding a joyous discovery: the marriage of two perfect flavors. Well, whoever it was who decided that a marriage of chocolate to zucchini would be a wondrous thing had an equally excellent idea (although the creative soul probably didn’t earn a similar windfall).

It’s not that zucchini has much flavor to add to a chocolate cake. No, its contribution derives from the moistness it imparts, along with an intriguing hint of texture. I’m sure there are health benefits, too. At least, that’s how I justify a second helping. I’ve had this recipe in my collection since the 1970s. I know because it’s typed (TYPED!) on an index card yellowed with age and splattered with a dash of calcified chocolate batter. I most likely clipped the original recipe from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

I share this with you now because summer is the perfect time to bake this cake, when farmers’ markets are brimming with fresh zucchini.  Enjoy!

ChocZukeCakemiseenplacecrp1Chocolate Zucchini Cake

—Serves 12

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick)
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 tablespoons cocoa*
3 zucchini, approximately six-inches long
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces*

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugars, butter, and oil.

Add the eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk, and stir well to mix. Sift together all the dry ingredients and then sift them into the mixing bowl. Grate the zucchini, skin and all, into the bowl and stir until blended.

GratedZucchiniPour into a greased and floured 13- x 9-inch pan. Sprinkle the top with chocolate pieces and bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 45 minutes or until cake tests done. Serve the cake plain, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

* My baking chocolate of choice is Ghirardelli Chocolate.