Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

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
3 eggs
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
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)


  1. 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.
  2. In one bowl, mix together the sugar, butter and oil. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each.
  3. Stir in the vanilla, buttermilk, zucchini, and chocolate chips.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients, except the walnuts.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Read more about Catherine making Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with her family.

See all recipes from Catherine Newman's "Dalai Mama Dishes" blog.

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