We’re about to head into the height of zucchini season which I’m so excited about!
I love getting fresh zucchini from the farmer’s market all summer long. It’s one of those veggies that’s so easy to cook and bake with. You can find a million ways to get creative whether you’re going savory or sweet. And it doesn’t take nearly an hour to cook like root veggies.
Adding zucchini into cake happens to be one of my favorite ways to use the stuff.
I love snack cakes like this recipe because’ they’re just one layer and there’s no assembly or decorating required. They’re also super easy to transport. You don’t even need an electric mixer for the batter or the icing here.
That makes this recipe perfect for bringing to a summer potluck or BBQ. Especially if you have an abundance of zucchini to use up!
I find many chocolate zucchini cakes to be kind of bland and a little dry. Read my tips below for getting a super rich and fudgy cake with tons of chocolate flavor.
How to Make Moist Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Cocoa Powder in Chocolate Cake
Cocoa powder lends more chocolate flavor than melted chocolate. But it can also zap some moisture, so read my tips below for how to make sure your cake is nice and tender and moist. This recipe uses natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process cocoa powder. Learn more about cocoa powder here.
For best results, weigh your cocoa powder and flour to ensure you don’t over measure. This will result in a dry cake. If you don’t have a digital kitchen scale, then use the spoon-and-level method.
How to Prepare Zucchini for Cake
To avoid gummy, dense, or unbaked cake it’s important to remove as much excess water from the zucchini as possible.
Start by washing the zucchini and trimming the ends. Grate using the big holes of a box grater. Scoop up the shredded zucchini and place in a strainer or colander. Move on to prepare the rest of the ingredients and batter for the recipe.
Once you’re ready to add in the zucchini, wrap it in a clean towel or paper towels and give it a very tight squeeze with your hands to wring out excess water. Do this a few times. If your hands aren’t quite strong enough you can also press the zucchini inside a potato ricer or hand held citrus squeezer. This is super effective at getting rid of water.
Once you add the zucchini to the batter, stir gently until JUST combined. Over-mixing can cause tough or gummy texture.
Why use butter AND oil in a cake?
I find this provides the best of both worlds. You get the wonderful flavor from the butter and the moist texture from the oil. This is because oil is a liquid at room temperature so it gives your palate the sensation of moisture. If you don’t have oil you can use 1 stick (113 grams) of butter for all the fat in the recipe.
How to Bake a Moist & Fudgy Chocolate Cake
In addition to the tips above, using ingredients like brown sugar, full fat sour cream, and an extra egg yolk all help to add richness and moisture to this cake. That’s because these ingredients both tenderize and draw and hold onto moisture. You can learn more about how baking ingredients work in my Magic of Baking online class.
Can I substitute the sour cream?
You can use full fat plain yogurt instead!
Metal vs. Glass Baking Pans
This recipe is best baked in an 8-inch metal baking pan. Metal conducts heat more quickly and efficiently than glass or ceramic so you won’t have any issues with an under-baked center. If you must use glass or ceramic, increase the baking time.
Can I double this recipe?
Yes! Double all ingredients and bake in a 9 by 13-inch pan and add about 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time.