Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

If you're like me, you get a shiver of excitement walking through summer farmers' markets - and inevitably wind up with way more fresh produce than you know what to do with.  Cue the inventive uses for bumper crops, like zucchini.  Shredded zucchini adds moisture to this cake much as in zucchini bread, and little tidbits like chocolate chips and walnuts make it indulgent.

For the cake:
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed vegan brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Tofutti cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 Ener-G eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup vegan buttermilk*
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 2/3 cup vegan chocolate chips**
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
For the glaze:
  • 3/4 cup vegan powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 8 teaspoons plain non-dairy milk 
  • 2 tablespoons vegan chocolate chips**
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. To prepare the cake, coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray and dust with 1 tablespoon flour; set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, brown sugar, cream cheese, and canola oil.  Beat at medium speed for several minutes until blended.  Add the Ener-G eggs and beat until combined; beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

3. Lightly spoon 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine the flour in a bowl with 1/2 cup cocoa, the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to the sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

4. Stir in the zucchini, 2/3 cup chocolate chips, and walnuts. 

5. Spoon the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, or until a wooden pick inserted in the cake comes out clean.  Do check several different spots - you might hit a melted chocolate chip on your first try!

6. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

7. To prepare the glaze, combine the powdered sugar in a bowl with 3 tablespoons cocoa (sift the powdered sugar first for best results).  In a glass bowl, combine the milk, 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, coffee granules, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Microwave for 20 seconds, stir, and microwave for an additional 15 to 25 seconds, until melted.  Add to the powdered sugar mixture, stirring with a whisk, and drizzle over the cooled cake. 

*To prepare the buttermilk, place 2 and 1/4 teaspoons lemon juice in a measuring cup.  Fill with plain non-dairy milk to equal 3/4 cup, and let stand for 5 minutes so the mixture can clabber (sour).  The acid in the lemon juice reacts with the baking soda to help your cake rise, so don't skip this step.

**Your choices for vegan chocolate chips continue to expand.  Whole Foods 365 line now produces semisweet chocolate chips suitable for vegans, or you can try alternatives like carob chips.

Nutrition Info:
16 servings (1 slice), Calories 281 

Tasting Notes:
The glaze on this was to die for, and it's all thanks to the coffee granules - fantastic flavor like I remember from coffee-glazed donuts in my youth.  That said, I'm not sure that the glaze was the right partner for this particular cake.  Coffee and donuts?  Yes!  Coffee and zucchini?  A little off.  The cake itself was quite good, but actually a little too moist.  I recommend squeezing dry the shredded zucchini.  The walnuts were delightful crunchy little bits, but again, the glaze and cake didn't quite fit together.


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