Peak zucchini season is from June to August, so now is a good time to get out your old trusty zucchini cake recipe – or your new one! Like the one I used for these chocolate zucchini cupcakes. If you’re into luscious moist cake and rich chocolate buttercream, then I urge you to try it. This may be my favorite version of chocolate cupcakes, ever! (I know -with zucchini! Who would’ve guessed?).
You’ll need a grater to shred the zucchini into little mulchy strands. A big box grater is ideal, but even the tiny one I used works well without much hassle. A whole 3 cups of shredded zucchini goes into the cake batter, and it virtually disappears into the cake as it bakes. You may occasionally see a little piece of green inside between bites, but they are few.
The chocolate buttercream frosting is lovely, too. Six ounces of melted dark chocolate is added to cocoa buttercream, which makes the end result rich, but also light; a chocolate truffle-buttercream hybrid of the best sort.
I used a citrus zester to make zucchini peel toppers for the cupcakes. They don’t contribute much flavor to the cupcake, especially when standing toe-to-toe with dark chocolate buttercream – but they look cute! Just wind a few of the strands around your index finger and slide them off, then place on top of the cupcakes. If you choose to make them, add them just before you serve the cupcakes. The strands will dry out over time. They look and taste best fresh.
Confession: a zucchini cupcake with a tall glass of skim milk has been my lunch meal replacement for the past couple of days. It happens like this:
‘I’ll just have one bite.’
‘Oops! Cupcake for lunch.’
If you don’t feel like scooping batter for 3 dozen cupcakes, then this recipe can be made as a single cake in a 13×9 baking dish with deep sides.
Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes
- 1/2 cup 114 g unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup 120 ml canola or grapeseed oil
- 1 3/4 cups 345 g sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup 113g full fat sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 1/2 cups 300 g all-purpose Flour
- 3/4 cup unsweet cocoa powder
- 3 cups shredded organic zucchini about 3 medium
Dark chocolate buttercream
- 1 cup 228 g unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups 455 g confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup 45 g unsweet cocoa powder
- 6 ounces dark chocolate melted
- Heavy cream as needed
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners (or two tins, if you have them).
- Make the cupcakes: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Add the sour cream, mayonnaise and cocoa powder. Stir in the flour. Beat until well combined. Fold in the zucchini with a rubber spatula.
- Spoon the batter into the cupcake papers 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The cupcakes will puff in the oven as they bake, but will sink slightly when removed from the oven (expect this). Remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool on a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.
- Make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whip attachment, beat together the butter and salt. Add the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder. Mix on low speed until just combined (the mixture may be crumbly at first – keep mixing!). Add the dark chocolate to the frosting and whip on high speed. Add heavy cream a little at a time until the mixture is piping consistency. You may need 1/4 cup or more depending on the cornstarch content of your confectioners’ sugar. Scrape down the bowl and whip again until light and fluffy.
- Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large French tip. Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.