Rich and indulgent, Chocolate Zucchini Cake is made with a bold, espresso-enriched chocolate batter and bursting with sweet chocolate chips in every bite. Topped with a silky chocolate frosting, it’s a chocolate lover’s dream. Extra fluffy and moist, it’s made with not one but two zucchini, which we’re pretty sure means it’s healthy. Right?
Why You’ll Love Chocolate Zucchini Cake
If you’ve never had chocolate zucchini cake, it might sound a bit strange. After all, isn’t zucchini meant for savory recipes like zucchini soup and spaghetti zoodles?
That’s definitely what we thought until we tried this recipe! Turns out, zucchini makes a fabulous addition to baked goods, lending an extra moist texture and decadent taste. In addition, this zucchini cake recipe:
- Uses simple ingredients.
- Bakes in under an hour.
- Features 3 layers of chocolatey goodness.
- Keeps well, meaning it’s great to prepare in advance.
- Packs in 2 full cups of veggies for the best way to eat your greens!
Ingredients You Need
Apart from the fresh veggies, this chocolate zucchini cake doesn’t require anything fancy, making it the best kind of recipe! Here’s what you need:
For the Zucchini Cake:
- Flour – Regular, all-purpose flour forms the base of the chocolate zucchini cake. If needed, a 1:1 all-purpose gluten-free flour can be used in its place.
- Cocoa Powder – Unsweetened cocoa powder transforms the batter from being boring and bland to rich and decadent.
- Butter – Unsalted butter creates a light, tender texture and rich taste.
- Vegetable Oil – This is used in place of water to combine the ingredients, making your cake extra tender and delicious.
- Sour Cream – Contributes to the moist texture and adds just a slight hint of tang that brings out the flavor of the chocolate.
- Eggs – These are crucial to providing structure to the cake, helping it hold its shape.
- Zucchini – The not-so-secret ingredient that makes this chocolate zucchini cake great.
- Espresso – It might sound weird, but this is what takes your cake to the next level! Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t make your cake taste like coffee. Instead, it helps enhance the flavor of the cocoa, making it extra chocolatey. If needed, you can use strong brewed coffee (regular or decaf) instead to achieve the same effect.
- Chocolate Chips – Semi-sweet chocolate chips are folded into the batter for little pockets of gooey sweetness in every bite.
- Baking Staples – You’ll also need baking necessities including baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and salt. You can’t make a cake without them! Or, at least not a very good one.
For the Chocolate Frosting:
- Chocolate Chips – Semi-sweet chocolate chips are melted down to add flavor to the frosting.
- Heavy Cream – This creates a fluffy texture and smooth, spreadable consistency.
- Vanilla Extract – Don’t omit this! It enhances the sweetness of the ingredients, mitigating some of the bitterness of the chocolate chips.
- Instant Espresso Powder – Just as in the cake, this helps make the frosting extra chocolatey. Just make sure you use powder and not brewed espresso or coffee! Otherwise, your frosting will be too runny.
How to Make the Best Chocolate Zucchini Cake
This chocolate zucchini cake comes together just as easily as any boxed recipe, and it tastes way better, too! Trust us, you’re going to be licking the spoon.
- Mix the Dry Ingredients. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Then, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, mix the ingredients together on low speed.
- Whisk the Wet Ingredients. In a separate large bowl, combine the butter, oil, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla until smooth.
- Combine the Wet and Dry Ingredients. Keeping the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients. Once smooth, add in the espresso, mixing just until the batter is smooth. Next, use a rubber spatula to fold in the chocolate chips and zucchini.
- Bake. Pour the cake batter into a
parchment paper-lined baking dish, and bake until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and comes out clean.
- Make the Frosting. In a microwave-safe bowl, add the heavy cream, and microwave until hot. Then, add in the chocolate chips, and let the mixture stand for 1-2 minutes. Whisk the ingredients until the chocolate is melted and well combined. Set the frosting aside to cool.
- Serve. Use a frosting spatula to spread the frosting evenly over the cake. Then, slice, serve, and enjoy!
Tips for Baking with Zucchini
If you’ve never baked with zucchini before, it might feel a little intimidating, but don’t worry! Follow the tips below, and it will be a breeze.
- Use a box grater to shred the zucchini into super fine strips. You don’t have to peel the zucchini for this recipe. However, you can if you want a slightly smoother texture!
- Gently pat the excess moisture. Don’t squeeze the zucchini shreds in a cheesecloth or towel! Instead, gently pat them with a dry paper towel to remove excess moisture and prevent your cake from becoming water.
- Make Cupcakes! Divide the batter into a muffin pan greased with cooking oil or filled with muffin liners. Then, bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted in the center and comes out mostly clean with nothing but a few crumbs.
- Use a Loaf Pan. Somewhere between a sheet cake and zucchini bread, this recipe also works well divided into two loaf pans. Just be sure to keep an eye on them in the oven, and adjust the baking time as needed!
- Add Nuts. Want even more texture? Follow in a sprinkling of chopped nuts like almonds, walnut, or pecans for a little extra crunch.
- Swap Out the Frosting. Use a vanilla frosting instead of chocolate. Or, omit it completely, and add a dusting of powdered sugar, a dollop of Cool Whip or whipped cream, or a drizzle of chocolate or peanut butter instead.
Make Ahead and Storage Options
To be honest, we’ve never had the problem of too many leftovers with this chocolate zucchini cake. However, if you want to prepare it in advance, it stores super well!
To Make Ahead: Prepare the cake batter up to 1-2 days in advance, and store it covered in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Then, pop it in the oven, prepare your frosting, and enjoy!
To Store: Once baked, leftover cake can be covered with plastic wrap or transferred to an airtight container. It will stay fresh at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To Freeze: Let your chocolate zucchini cake cool completely. Then, wrap it tightly with plastic wrap, and transfer it to a freezer-safe container. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. Then, thaw it in the freezer and set it out to come to room temperature before serving. It will taste good as new!
Chocolate Zucchini Cake Common Questions
Zucchini is not often used to replace ingredients in baked goods. Instead, it is included for a boost of moistness, extra volume, and added nutrients!
The most common reason for a sinking zucchini cake is that the batter was mixed too quickly. Make sure to keep your mixer on a low setting, and add the ingredients slowly. Rushing will create too many air bubbles causing the cake to deflate as it cools.
This chocolate zucchini cake can be stored at room temperature for 2-3 days. However, if it goes any longer than that, you definitely want to refrigerate it to keep it from spoiling.
More Indulgent Chocolate Cake Recipes
Looking for more chocolate cake recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth? We’ve got you covered with the options below!
- Double Chocolate Bundt Cake
- S’mores Chocolate Cake
- Chocolate Coffee Mug Cake
- Hazelnut Chocolate Lava Cake
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
For the Chocolate Zucchini Cake:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1/2 cup sour cream (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup espresso or strong coffee (freshly brewed*)
- 2 medium zucchini (grated (~2 heaping cups))
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
For the Chocolate Frosting:
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish, and set aside.
- Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined.
- In a separate large bowl, combine the butter, oil, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With the mixer still on low, add the coffee, and mix until just combined.
- Turn off the mixer, and use a spatula to fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted into the center and comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
- In the meantime, prepare the frosting by adding the heavy cream to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until hot. Add the chocolate chips, and let stand for 1-2 minutes.
- Whisk the mixture together until the chocolate is completely melted and the ingredients are well combined. Stir in the vanilla and espresso. Set aside to chill for 20 minutes.
- Spread the frosting evenly over the cake. Slice, and serve.
- Store covered at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days.