Chocolate and Zucchini Cake comes to us from Clotilde Dusoulier, the pioneering French blogger and cookbook author whose started her site Chocolate & Zucchini back in 2003.
Cotilde Dusoulier was one of the earliest food bloggers, and one of the first to create a cookbook out of her blog. When she started Chocolate & Zucchini in 2003 there were only a handful of food blogs in existence, and all of them in America. That influenced her decision to write the blog in the English language even though she is French and is based in Paris. That unique vantage point, along with Clotilde’s fresh approach to sharing her culinary journey, helped propel her blog to early fame.
Clotilde has inspired countless food writers, both amateur and professional, to start their own blogs. In this interview she offers her insight into the creative process, and emphasizes the importance of not getting bogged down in looking over your shoulder constantly at what other people are doing, but being true to your own unique interests and passions.
Have fun: a blog is a great sandbox in which to play and experiment. It’s good to have some sense of your editorial line and general focus, but at the end of the day you should blog about whatever you’re excited about, and not be afraid to shake things up by trying new things, new topics and new formats.
When asked about this cake Clotilde confessed that when she came up with the title of her blog she never imagined that the two ingredients could actually being combined in any kind of recipe. It was her readers who alerted her to the practice in the Midwestern US of using the summer glut of zucchini in baked goods, and at their request she developed the recipe. She surprised herself with how wonderfully it turned out, and now, in interviews, names it as one of her favorites.
Here is her recipe just as it appears on the blog. I didn’t change anything, and my cake came out looking and tasting fabulous. As you can see she gives recipes in both the European and American format since her blog spans the two audiences.
Chocolate & Zucchini Cake
– 240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
– 60 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
– 180 grams (1 scant cup) light brown sugar (I use unrefined cane sugar)
– 115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, or 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules or 2 tablespoons strong cooled coffee — this is just to deepen the chocolate flavor, you won’t taste it in the finished product
– 3 large eggs
– 350 grams (2 cups) unpeeled grated zucchini, from about 1 1/2 medium zucchini
– 160 grams (1 cup) good-quality bittersweet chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate
– Confectioner’s sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 25-cm (10-inch) round springform pan or a 22-cm (8 1/2-inch) square pan.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand in a large mixing bowl), beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the vanilla, coffee, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much.
Add the rest of the flour mixture into the egg batter. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.
Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without over mixing. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and level the surface
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen, and unclasp the sides of the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar or a chocolate glaze if desired.
This cake is really delicious. It’s very chocolaty, moist, and makes a nice presentation. My only reservation about making it again is that it falls in between categories for me…it doesn’t quite qualify as an after dinner dessert, and it’s a little too rich for a snack or breakfast cake. It would be perfect for an afternoon tea or shower. You can’t taste the zucchini at all, but you can see a few green flecks here and there, and it does have that fun novelty factor.
You can see a video of Clotilde herself baking this cake here.