Summer is nearing the end! Which is both equally awesome (fall harvest! Pumpkin everything! Beautiful leaves! Cool autumn mornings! Cozy coffee and teas!), and the nature of....things. So it is hard to get sad about it. What do you have planned for Labor Day weekend?
It was a beautiful summer, and full of events...like, getting married (!), moving (again!), farmers markets (Beloit's is stellar!), outdoor runs, fresh herbs, sunsets, zuchhini cake...I still have my mind set on making a pie, going for a few hikes, and enjoying our little deck at our new place before the autumn settles in. The cooler months this year will be goal-driven for me (I am hell-bent on paying off a considerable amount of my student loans this year and next; I want to learn more about food photography and editing photos; I need to be present and learn this new thing call partner-for-life/marriage...which is hard for a head-driving, stubborn person like me).Anyways, there is always room for cake. This one was a spin-off from my aunt's infamous chocolate-zucchini muffins. They always made an appearance during the summer months, and still do. They are the jumbo-size ones, and often she puts a chocolate ganache on top....just a little layer. As she would say, "just choice!" with iced coffee in the summer afternoons.
Since I typically don't have the patience to make muffins (I have to be in the mood..greasing and flouring the muffin tins...then cleaning them...not my favorite thing...), I usually take muffin recipes and convert them to a cake or loaf by reducing the oven temperature by 25 to 50 degrees (F), and increasing baking time. There are many helpful sources on the internets to do this, including my words of wisdom here. Just go for it! So here, my aunt's chocolate zucchini muffin recipe, halved and put into a cake tin, topped with a chocolate-sour "ganache" (the " " because ganache is traditionally made with heavy cream and chocolate...but I do not want to call this topping an "icing" or "frosting" because for me, it isn't that in flavor preparation or texture!), sprinkled with coarse and flakey sea salt. It is my version, and is equally as satisfying....without the whole muffin tin situation!
I wish you the happiest and fullest last few days of summer...get at them while they are here!
Note: I use THIS instant espresso powder and it is a chocolate enhancer that I use in many baked things calling for cocoa, etc!
Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate-Sour Cream "Ganache" // makes 1 8" or 9" cake //
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup melted butter or 1/3 cup neutra cooking oil (sunflower or safflower is my choice)
- 1 1/2 heaped cups zucchini, grated on the standard coarse/cheese sized setting of your grater, and squeezed dry (doesn't need to be bone-dry!)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp instant espresso powder (optional, but highly recommended)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (you can also use spelt, or 50:50 with whole wheat pastry and AP)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used dutched for a deep, rich, mellow chocolate flavor)
- scant 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- Optional: 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or nuts of choice
- Sour Cream Topping: heat 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips (they should be at least 60% cocoa solids, I choose Guittard for my chips), 2-3 TB full-fat sour cream
- Coarse sea salt, for topping
1.) Preheat ovent to 350F. Line the bottom of an 8" or 9" baking pan with parchment, and grease the entire inner surface area of the cake pan with neutral oil or butter.
2) Mix the wet ingredients (eggs, sugar, melted butter or oil, zucchini, cinnamon, sea salt, espresso powder, vanilla) in a medium bowl (tip: I like to first grate my zucchini and then squeeze out the moisture, either into the sink or into a bowl for other use, like cooking rice or grains, then mix the remaining wet ingredients right on top of the grated and squeezed zucchini; mixing the sugar, cinnamon, sea salt and espresso powder with the wet ingredients ensures even distribution).
3) Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix to combine thoroughly with a fork or whisk.
4) Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing until combined, but be gentle to not over-mix. If you'd like to add in nuts or additional chopped chocolate, gently fold it in now.
5) Pour into prepared baking pan, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a tester or thin knife poked in the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for an hour or so. Un-tin it by running a thin knife or spatula around the edges, and gently tip out onto the cooling rack to cool completely.
6) When ready to top the cake, prep the sour cream ganache: gently melt the chocolate in a small bowl submerged in a saucepan, submerged in water. OR, gently microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring between. Once melted, stir in the full-fat sour cream until smooth. It will thicken, but that is ok! Spread on the cake while the ganace is still warm and spreadable, and top with sea salt. Cake will keep for 1 week in the fridge, covered. Enjoy!