It’s been for while now that Roo has been asking for a chocolate cake. It’s his favorite, but I’ve been procrastinating on how I was going to make something that revolved around butter, sugar, all purpose flour and of course, chocolate!
Now, I love butter, sugar and all purpose flour (and never question me on my love for chocolate), but I never felt good after eating such a rich dessert. All I want is a pair of sweatpants and a pillow to spoon afterwards. It’s not something I want to feel very often.
But Roo has always been a good sport; putting up with so many experimental dishes. As of late it’s been a lot of what he’s never eaten before – a plethora of lentils, chickpea based salads, and god forbid, a homemade veggie burger. Sometimes I think he’s going to go all Ron Swanson on my ass, but practically after every meal he’s told me that it was delicious, and when it’s not, has given suggestions on what he would have liked, if I were to try it again.
Our friend M, would retort, that any meal, experimental or not, is a privilege, and she never lets Roo forget, telling him every time she’s over for dinner that he “better worship the ground she walks on.”
I love her.
This cake is great because the squash keeps it very moist, and the large dose of cocoa powder gives you that velvety chocolatey taste you’d expect from any chocolate dessert. I love that it’s chock full of good-for-you things that, and if I didn’t tell you how whole-grainy it was, you probably wouldn’t know.
If you’re on the fence as to whether or not you’d like a cake made without butter , I think this is a good one to start with. It’s still delicate, not “wheaty” in taste, and if you’re lucky, has a couple chocolatey, gooey pockets (which Roo loves), that makes it an absolute must with your afternoon coffee break.
Adapted from Zucchini Cake with Dried Cranberries and Dark Chocolate
3 egg whites (you can also use 3 large eggs)
One and three quarter cups of sugar
1 cup of olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Four cups of grated/shredded in the food processor summer squash (two large summer squash)
Two and a half cups whole wheat flour flour (I really push as to how much whole wheat flour I can get away with)
Half cup all purpose flour (if you don’t have whole wheat flour, you can use 3 cups all purpose for the total flour used)
Half cup dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1 rounded teaspoon baking soda
Half rounded teaspoon baking powder
Quarter teaspoon fine sea salt
9″ cake pan
Food processor or hand grater
Two large bowls
Parchment paper, or butter and flour to grease your cake pan
Place the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350F. Line the cake pan with parchment paper, or butter and flour the cake pan. I highly recommend the parchment paper as it’s easy clean up. I have not made this recipe using butter and flour, so I can’t say whether or not the cake will get stuck in the pan. With parchment, it’s lifts right out.
With a food processor (“shred” disk side up) or a hand grater, grate the zucchini until you have four and a half cups worth. Set aside.
Mix the egg whites and sugar. Add the oil and then the vanilla extract. It will look like an oily mess at first, but keep going, it’ll eventually come together. Take your spatula and be sure the scrape the bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt with a whisk. Set aside.
Add the summer squash to the wet ingredients. If it freaks you out to not squeeze out the excess liquid from the squash, then by all means, squeeze away. If there’s anything to be learned from me, is that I’m lazy. And thankfully lucky because the cake always turns out great without doing anything to the squash after grating. In fact, Roo loves the occasional gooey “chocolate pockets,” that he sometimes finds in the cake. Stir the squash in to combine. Take your spatula and scrape the bowl.
In increments, add the dry ingredients to the wet. I usually add the dry to the wet in two parts, but go with what you’re comfortable with. I add the dry ingredients, then stir until they’re just combined, and then add the second half, and stir till combined again. Again, take your spatula and scrape the bowl to ensure that all ingredients (ie there isn’t a wet pool underneath everything else at the bottom of your bowl) are combined.
Fill the cake pan with the batter. Place into the oven and bake for 50 – 60 minutes. For me, the cake is fully baked at the 50 minute marker. But our oven is a bit small and runs rather hot. Around 45 minutes, check with a chopstick, toothpick, or even a knife, to see if the cake is done. There should be a little bit of crumb hanging on, but not actual wet batter when you remove it from the cake. Check every three – five minutes until the cake is done as you do not want to over bake this cake.
This cake freezes wonderfully. Because I have no self control around any chocolate product, I slice up the entire cake after it’s cooled and wrap the pieces in aluminum foil, and throw them into a ziploc bag, before stashing them away in the freezer like a half-crazed squirrel. It doesn’t take long to thaw out, so I try to throw a slice on the table for Roo before I leave for work so he can have it with his coffee.