Got zucchini?? These little cakes are so moist and delicious, you'd never know they're fairly low in fat and loaded with veggies!
Mama always said "eat your veggies".
And mama's always right. Right?
Okay granted, mama probably wasn't talking about veggies combined with brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, cherries and chocolate. But then again, adding lots of freshly grated zucchini to brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, cherries and chocolate just might give this delicious dessert a wee bit of merit with good old mama.
This mama (as in me) loves adding veggies like carrots and zucchini to baked goods here at The Café, not only because they're nutrient dense, but because these veggies make breads and cakes super moist without having to add a ton of oil, butter or other fats. Get this - this recipe makes 24 nice sized servings with only a half cup of oil! Any health conscious mama would love that! Dried cherries add lots of flavor, additional moistness and are a classic, delicious pairing with chocolate.
I've been working on these Chocolate Cherry Zucchini Cakes for the past week, and I think I've got them just right now. I started out making it as a large cake in a tube pan, the second time in two loaf pans and finally in the individual ramekins.
They all worked well, but my favorite is the small portion-control servings. Each person gets their own and none of the yummy topping is lost when the cake is sliced.
And if you, by chance, have children who are adverse to vegetables; they'll never know in a million years that you've stashed zucchini in these decadent, delicious little cakes. We have a little one like that right now. She is a wonderful eater except for "greens". She carefully examines her plate before eating and says "Not dat." pointing to anything slightly resembling green on her plate. But I have absolutely no doubt that she would polish off one of these cakes without hesitation and leave nary a crumb.
She's not the only one. All of my tastes testers (little and big) have given these cakes a huge thumbs up. Oh, and I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I'm writing this in the car as we're driving to visit family. Before we left, I pulled a stash of them out of the freezer to take along. A few minutes ago I asked Scott if he could stop and sneak one out of the trunk. He gladly obliged, we shared one, and did fight a bit over the last delicious bite. Don't tell the family that there's one missing, okay?
I love how simply these cakes come together. There's no mixer involved, and instead of icing, a topping of mini chocolate chips and raw sugar is sprinkled on top of the cakes after the first 10 minutes of baking. This keeps the topping from sinking into the batter and disappearing. The chocolate chips, in addition to the cocoa in the batter, make for a decadent chocolate treat. The raw (or turbinado) sugar add a little crunch and make the cakes look really pretty without a lot of fuss.
There's a plethora of zucchini to be had right now. If you have a garden, you're probably inundated with the skinny green squash about now. And if you know anyone with a garden, they'd probably be thrilled to unload a bit of their abundance. If you're a city dweller with no gardening friends, no worries - zucchini is super cheap at the market right now!
And your mama? Well she, (along with the rest of your family and friends) will be doing a happy dance when you show up with a tray of these fabulous Chocolate Cherry Zucchini Cakes!
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- 2 cups grated zucchini tightly packed
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips divided
- 1 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries lightly packed
- ½ cup sunflower oil or other neutral flavored oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- raw sugar demerara or turbinado sugars are similar
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray 24 small ramekins with cooking spray. You can also use 2 12-cup muffin pans. Spray each cup well with cooking spray.
Place zucchini on top of several thicknesses of paper toweling. Roll grated zucchini in paper towels and pat firmly soak up excess moisture from zucchini. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium size bowl. Sift in cocoa powder (I just pour my cocoa in a fine sieve and stir till it's all sifted through) and whisk again till combined.
Combine ¾ cup of the chocolate chips and the rough chopped cherries in a medium size bowl. Reserve the remaining ¼ cup chips. Add 2 tablespoons of the flour/cocoa mixture to chips/cherries in bowl and toss with your fingers to coat everything and to break up any clumps of cherries. The flour will also help prevent chips and cherries from sinking to the bottom of the cakes. Set aside. In a medium-large bowl, whisk together oil, eggs and brown sugar. Add buttermilk and vanilla and whisk again. Add zucchini and stir to combine.
￼ Add the flour/cocoa mixture to the wet ingredients and stir just till flour disappears. Add chocolate chips and cherries. Stir just to combine.
￼Divide batter between ramekins (or muffin cups), filling ¾ full. Do not fill any higher. If you have leftover batter, just make one or more extra cakes. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and sprinkle each pan with ½ teaspoon raw sugar and 2 teaspoons of the reserved chocolate chips. Return to oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cakes made in muffin cups may take a bit longer.
If desired, sprinkle finished cakes with a bit more sugar and a few more chips while hot.
I find lots of cute ramekins at Home Goods but I also like these little oven safe ramekins.
If you're serving a crowd, these ramekins would work well.
This recipe can also be made in 2 8-inch loaf pans. The loaves will need to be baked quite a bit longer, 50-60 minutes.