Fudgy and decadent, this vegan double chocolate zucchini cake with it's rich chocolate ganache frosting will surely surprise you - there are almost 2 cups of fresh zucchini squash baked right in. This recipe makes a great snack cake, baked into muffins, cupcakes or made for a party. Makes one 9x13 sheet cake or 24 muffins.
This post is sponsored by Paderno Kitchenware however all thoughts and opinions are always my own.
Why you’ll love this recipe
Chocolate zucchini cake is full of nostalgia for me. Growing up we had a neighbor who grew the most amazing zucchini squash. Each summer she would bring my family several large zucchinis or two loaves of the most lush chocolate zucchini cake.
As a child, it seemed unthinkable that one could eat zucchini in a cake, but there I was enjoying every last slice with my family. This version is every bit as good as the ones I remember from my youth. This vegan chocolate zucchini cake recipe is:
- Easy to make
- Decadent, fudgy and brownie-like
- Dairy-free and egg-free
- Contains minimal ingredients
- Great for a party or as a snack cake
Why zucchini works
If the idea of adding vegetables to cake seems odd to you, there are good reasons why you might want to try it. Zucchini, in particular, adds moisture and structure to baked goods without adding any vegetal flavour. While the texture and moisture level of zucchini can vary, for the most part, they are entirely undetectable.
As a general note, it's good to use fairly young and small zucchini with soft skin for this recipe. The bigger and more mature a zucchini, the harder the skin will be and it won't make for a nice texture in this recipe.
The other reason why you'll enjoy this recipe is that it makes great use of garden zucchinis- you may have these beautiful summer squash growing in your garden and find yourself with an over-abundance come late season.
Each year we plant two varieties , however, we always end up giving away half a dozen or so; zucchini are prolific growers given optimal growing conditions!
What you will need
The ingredient list for this recipe is very straightforward. Substitutions and options can be found below.
- zucchini squash (about 1 large zucchini)
- whole wheat flour or spelt flour
- granulated sugar
- dutch cocoa powder
- baking soda
- baking powder
- flax meal
- olive oil
- unsweetened non-dairy milk
- vanilla extract
- semi-sweet chocolate chips
- full fat coconut milk
You will also need one 9x13 baking pan or a 12 cup muffin tin.
The importance of Quality Bakeware
Baking is a passion of mine and I love having quality bakeware on hand. The Paderno Kitchenware Professional Oblong 9x13 pan is a great choice for this recipe. With its PFOA/PTFE-free non-stick interior, this cake bakes evenly, maintains its fudgy crumb, and releases like a thing of beauty.
There is no need to grease the cake pan, which I love. This pan is also made of commercial-grade, heavy-gauge aluminized steel and is fully dishwasher safe.
To learn more about the line of professional culinary and baking tools and appliances, visit the Paderno website here or follow along on social media @PadernoKitchenware #itsacookingthing.
How to make this recipe
The base of this vegan double chocolate zucchini cake comes together quickly, although some preparation is needed to wash and shred the zucchini. Otherwise, it's simply a matter of combining all the ingredients together, pouring in the pan and baking.
The chocolate ganache frosting can be made while the cake is baking and cooling; it requires minimum 40 minutes (or up to 90 minutes) to set up properly at room temperature. Set up time depends on your ambient room temperature. Once the cake is cool and the ganache is thick enough to spread, you can frost and serve the cake.
If you have never made ganache before, it's rather simple: add hot coconut milk to chocolate in a heat proof bowl, stir until melted and then let it thicken, making sure to stir it occasionally to keep it's smooth consistency.
Helpful tips to make this recipe perfect
- Use young zucchini - as mentioned above, the larger or more mature the zucchini, the harder the skin will be. Use zucchini with a soft skin (the test it whether you can easily pierce it with your finger nail).
- Mix the cake batter just until moistened - this will ensure the cake rises nicely.
- Grease the cake pan - this is important if your cake pan is not non-stick.
- Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting- this goes for all cake recipes with frosting. Even a slightly warm cake can melt frosting.
- Use full fat coconut milk for the ganache- otherwise, the ganache will not thicken properly or hold peaks.
- Allow the ganache to set up before frosting - ultimately, it's a personal choice as to whether you like a thin or runny ganache or a thick one. My preference is to have consistency that is spreadable and holds it shape which happens after approximately 45 minutes.
- Don't let the ganache over-thicken - otherwise you will have a hard time spreading it on the cake. Check the ganache often, giving it a stir every 10 minutes to determine your preferred viscosity.
Can I use frozen zucchini?
Yes! I have tested this recipe with fresh and frozen zucchini. Be sure to thaw and drain the zucchini to ensure it doesn't add more liquid to the cake batter. Simply give it a gently squeeze to release most (but not all) of the excess liquid.
Can I make this recipe into Muffins or Cupcakes?
Yes! This zucchini cake recipe is quite versatile and can be made into 24 muffins or cupcakes. You will need a 12-cup muffin pan lined with cupcake papers.
Fill the muffin cups ~⅔ full and reduce the baking time to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Frost or pipe the ganache as desired.
Substitutions and options
As mentioned above, this recipe has some versatility and here are some of the tested substitutes and options:
- Whole wheat flour can be replaced with light spelt or sprouted spelt flour in equal measure.
- Yellow zucchini can be used instead of green skin zucchini in a 1:1 ratio
- The flax and water mixture - use two large eggs (preferably pasture raised and organic eggs).
- Olive oil - use any neutral tasting vegetable oil of choice.
- Mix ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter before baking.
This vegan chocolate zucchini cake will last covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. The texture of the frosting will thicken further when stored in the fridge, however it is still very good (almost fudge-like but without the intense sweetness).
If you bake this recipe into muffins, you can freeze them (frosted or unfrosted) in a freezer safe container for up to one month; defrost in the fridge prior to serving.
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And don't be shy to tag me on social media if you make this recipe (or any of my recipes for that matter) @the_simple_green! Leave me your feedback below as well.
Vegan Double Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Fudgy and decadent, this vegan double chocolate zucchini cake with it's rich chocolate ganache are sure to surprise unsuspecting palates with almost 2 cups of fresh zucchini squash baked right in. This recipe is great for snacking, baked into muffins or made for a party. Makes one 9x13 sheet cake or 24 muffins (see notes).
- 1 ½ cups grated zucchini squash (see notes)
- 2 tbsp flax meal + 4 tbsp water mixed together
- 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour or spelt flour
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup cocoa powder
- 1 ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 ¾ cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate pieces
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
Prepare the cake
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13" cake pan.
In a small bowl, mix together the flax meal and water. Let stand for 5 minutes to thicken. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
To the flax mixture, add the zucchini, non-dairy milk, olive oil, vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add zucchini mixture to the flour mixture and mix just until moistened.
Pour and spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan and bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Meanwhile, make the ganache frosting.
Prepare the ganache
Add the chocolate morsels to a medium heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, gently heat the coconut milk just until it starts to steam. Carefully pour the hot coconut milk over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and silky. Allow the ganache to sit at room temp, stirring every 10 minutes until thickened but spreadable (about 40 minutes).
Spread the frosting on the cooled cake and serve.
Zucchini can vary in moisture content; the grated zucchini for this recipe should be wet, but not dripping when you pick up a handful. If it is dripping, drain off some of the liquid by giving it a gentle squeeze.
This recipe can be made into 24 muffins. You will need a 12-cup muffin pan lined with cupcake papers. Fill the muffin cups ~⅔ full and reduce the baking time to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Frost or pipe the ganache as desired on the muffins.