There was zucchini in the CSA box this week. And when I think of zucchini, I always think of my Aunt Janice and her Chocolate Zucchini Cake (which is much tastier than if I thought of my mother and her zucchini relish, and if memory serves correctly, I vehemently do not like).
Janice is one of my most favorite people. Unbelievably generous and giving, always opening her heart and home to anybody and everybody. She’s always there when you need her. For example, while home for the holidays several years ago, I had driven my mother into work and on my way back home I had gotten in a car accident. (Nobody was hurt, but the car got crunched). So there I was, in my sweats, hair disarrayed, no cell phone or wallet, as I was just dropping my mom off at work, less than two miles away from the house. Luckily some kind soul had stopped and lent me her cell phone. Janice was the first person I called. Primarily because hers is the only phone number that I actually have memorized. Plus she is a good go-to person in a crisis. She stopped what she was doing, drove out to my parents house collected my wallet and brought it down to me. And then she waited with me for the tow truck and helped me deal with all the details. ‘Cause she’s a good sort like that. And she makes a mean chocolate zucchini cake. A few years back, I called her up and got the recipe. You can see that it’s seen some love. It’s time I wrote it up properly.
Now, as she and most of my family is assembled at her and my uncle’s lake house for Fourth of July, it seems appropriate to post this recipe today. Janice usually makes this as a cake, in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and serves it with whipped cream, but I thought it would be fun to make it into cupcakes and top with a sweet and tangy raspberry frosting. The cupcake wrappers are about as red, white and blue as I get.
Mini Chocolate Zucchini Cakes with Raspberry Frosting
makes ~15 jumbo or 2 dozen standard cupcakes********** Chocolate Zucchini Cakes
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 cups chocolate chips Raspberry Icing, from Mark Bittman
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
For the cakes:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Peel and grate the zucchini using a food processor or box grater. Mix the milk and the vinegar together and set aside.
Sift together cake flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.
In a seperate bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Mix in the dry ingredients and the milk a little at a time, alternating.
Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Scoop into jumbo muffin cups (about 2 ice cream scoops worth) and set on a cookie sheet. Bake for ~35 minutes (25 minutes for standard cupcakes), until toothpick comes out clean.
For the icing:
Combine all ingredients in a double boiler. Place over 2 inches of boiling water. Mix using a hand held electric mixer until it is light and fluffy, about 7 minutes.
Remove from heat and add vanilla extract and salt. Continue to beat until frosting is cooled and holds stiff peaks. Transfer to a gallon-size ziploc bag (or piping bag, if your kitchen is more well-stocked than mine), snip the corner so that there’s about a half inch hole, and pipe the frosting onto the cakes.
It just so turns out that the backyard raspberry bushes are just starting to produce some ripe berries. So I snagged a couple to top the cakes.
I know people say this sort of thing all of the time, but you really don’t taste the zucchini at all and it keeps the cake incredibly moist.