Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Chocolate zucchini (or cucumber) cake

I know what you're thinking... Cucumber? In a cake? Has Eva gone mad?  No, I have not gone mad. Just got a bit creative since I had 3 cucumbers left over from our CSA delivery and I had no idea what to do with them. I am the only person in my family that likes cucumbers, and there are only so many times I can eat a cucumber stir fry by myself. So I put my thinking cap on and baked a chocolate cucumber cake.

Yes, I am well aware that cucumber isn't a perfect substitution for zucchini. Cucumbers are more water and contain seeds, and the outer skins aren't the same. But, I did what I could with the ingredients I had and made it work. First and foremost, I grated my cucumber really well and discarded any parts of the skin that didn't want to grate.  I also squeezed as much water out of the cucumber that I could and drained the liquid out. Once the cucumber was as dry as possible, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

I liked this cake, but my husband wasn't a huge fan (he is a strange bird sometimes). I thought that it tasted like a traditional chocolate zucchini cake, but I did notice a bit of cucumber taste to it. Because my husband isn't a huge cucumber fan, that may have swayed his opinion. Regardless, I enjoyed the cake and didn't think it was too cucumber-y. In fact, the chocolate and cocoa masked most of the cucumber flavor, so it was similar to just a regular chocolate cake to me.

Chocolate zucchini (or cucumber) cake
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup milk plus 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar as a substitute)
  • 2 cups freshly grated and DRAINED zucchini or cucumber (about 2-3 medium)
  • 12 ounce package of semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
Directions
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously grease or line a standard 9"x13" baking pan and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Add the applesauce, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk and mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated. The batter may look curdled.

Turn the mixer to low and gradually add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Turn off the mixer and fold in the grated and drained zucchini or cucumber by hand. Add in about half a bag of the chocolate chips.

Transfer the batter to your prepared baking pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with the remaining chocolate chips.

Bake in your preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (you may have a streak or two of melted chocolate chips). Allow the cake to cool completely before serving.

Cake should be stored covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil on the counter or in the refrigerator. It is best served within 3 days.

Yield: A 9"x13" cake; about 24 servings

Source: Adapted from John and Lois Thomas, via the Summer of Love 2014 Penzey's catalog

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