real life test kitchen: chocolate walnut zucchini cake with cream cheese icing

Ahhh, summer…. Your joys are infinite, even if your days are not — blackberries, tomatoes, nectarines, to name just a few. Zucchini, on the other hand, can be a blessing AND a curse. I don’t grow squash, but without fail, every year I end up with tons of the stuff, gifted to me by overburdened neighbors and coworkers. And it’s never the gorgeous tiny, tender ones, either — it’s mega-zucchini the size of your forearm. What to do with all this lovely bounty? Well, some of it gets peeled, grated, salted, and drained and used in zucchini fritters, but the bulk of it gets baked into breads, muffins, and bundts. I usually use my mom’s carrot cake recipe as my zucchini bread base, but this time I took a little inspiration from the Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cupcake recipe in last month’s Gourmet magazine and created a chocolatey, moist cake using only ingredients I had on hand. It was easy, too! Good thing, because I brought home yet another five-pound squash last night! –Megan B. Click for chocolately, zucchini-y goodness!

Chocolate Walnut Zucchini Cake
(serves at least 10)

3 c all purpose flour
3 c grated zucchini*
11/2 c sugar
11/4 c oil (e.g: vegetable, canola, grapeseed)
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbs cocoa powder
1/2 c finely chopped walnuts
1/2 c chocolate chips
Cream cheese icing (recipe follows)

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl, whisk together to remove any large lumps. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Gently combine with dry ingredients, and then fold in grated zucchini, nuts, and chocolate chips, mixing only until combined. Pour into prepared pan, smooth the batter with a spatula, and bake 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely before removing from pan and icing. This cake will keep well in the refrigerator for at least three days, covered.

Cream Cheese Icing
1 8 oz brick cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c powdered sugar
1/4 c milk, half and half, or heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat cream cheese and sugar together with a mixer 4 minutes or until it is smooth. Lower the speed on the mixer and slowly drizzle in the milk, adding more if necessary to create desired consistency. Add in vanilla and beat 30 more seconds. Drizzle generously over cooled cake.

*note: if using mondo zucchini, make sure to peel the skins off before grating, as they can be tough.

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