Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
They taste just like chocolate cupcakes! Like good chocolate cupcakes, even! They're super-chocolatey and almost obscenely moist -- like the cake mix with the pudding in it, in a good way. Plus, it's a great way to use up a glut of squash -- and the green flecked against the rich, reddish brown of the cake frankly delights me. This recipe is kind of a cross between a Heidi Swanson cupcake recipe and a Bon Appetit cake recipe, with a few deviations, as is my way. Feel free to omit the spices, although I love the flavor combination -- just don't cut back on the vanilla or the salt, which the cake really needs in its successful fight against blandness.
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Ready In: 50 minutes
Yield: 2 dozen cupcakes, or 12 cupcakes and an 8-inch cake
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (around 2 medium zukes)
1 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted at 350 for 5 minutes (optional, of course)
powdered sugar for topping (also optional)
- Heat the oven to 350ºF, and line 2 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners. Or line only one muffin tin, and grease and flour an 8-inch cake pan.
- In one bowl, mix together the sugar, butter and oil. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each.
- Stir in the vanilla, buttermilk, zucchini, and chocolate chips.
- In another bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients, except the walnuts.
- Pour the wets into the dries, and mix well until combined, adding the walnuts at some point, around halfway through the mixing. You don't want to over-mix the batter, but you don't want to leave hidden pockets of flour either.
- Now scoop the batter into the cupcake liners, filling each one about 3/4 of the way, then scrape the rest of it into the prepared cake pan, if you're making a cake too. Pop the pans in the center of the oven and set a timer for 25 minutes.
- When the timer rings, check the cupcakes: your want them just set, with no jiggliness on top, true, but also without an excess of bakedness -- they'll continue to bake a bit as they cool, and you really want these moist; a toothpick should come out with some damp crumbs clinging to it. If they need another minute or two, give it to them. Check the cake at 30 minutes -- mine took 33 minutes for perfect, moist doneness.
- Cool on a rack and, if you like, sift powdered sugar over them before serving.
I use a box grater for the zucchini: the food processor is quicker, but the shreds are kind of big and disinclined to melt moistly into the cupcakes.