Looking for an easy and delicious way to use up all that zucchini growing in your yard? How about this moist and indulgent gluten free chocolate zucchini cake topped with chocolate frosting. And no, you can’t tell this rich, moist cake contains zucchini as long as you finely grate it.
The gluten free chocolate zucchini cake is gluten free, nut free and can easily be made dairy free. Topped with an easy chocolate frosting, this chocolate zucchini cake recipe will quickly become a family favorite.
If you are a big fan of hiding vegetables in your baked goods, make sure to check out my Gluten Free Zucchini Bread. Looking for another Chocolate Snack Cake? How about my Gluten Free Hot Cocoa Snack Cake?
- Recipe Ingredient Notes
- A note about Gluten Free Flour Blends
- Secret to tender gluten free chocolate zucchini cake
- Step by Step Instructions
- Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- How to decorate a Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- Frequently asked Questions for Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- Baking in grams
- Note about Ovens and Oven Temperatures
- Substitutions and Modifications
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
Recipe Ingredient Notes
Gluten Free Flour: I use my gluten-free flour blend in this recipe. I also tested this recipe with Bob’s Red Mill 1 – to 1 and Better Batter GF All-Purpose Flour and both blends work great. I did have some texture issues with the raw muffin batter made with Cup4Cup. All those blends mentioned already contain xanthan gum.
Grated Zucchini: When it comes to choosing the zucchini to make gluten-free chocolate zucchini cake, using smaller zucchinis is better. Smaller zucchinis have more moisture and sweetness while supersized zucchinis can be dry and bitter. Definitely not something you will want in your zucchini cake. When grating your zucchini, make sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. f you own a potato ricer, that’s the perfect tool for this job. Paper Towels are an option as well but they tend to break.
Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder: I highly recommend using dutch processed cocoa in this recipe. Dutch-processed cocoa produces richer, fudgier flavors. My go-to brands are Cacao Barry Extra Brute and Valrhona Pure Cocoa Powder. If you are looking for a better price point for cocoa powder I recommend Hershey’s Dutched Cocoa, Special Dark, 100% Cacao. Be aware if you use Natural Cocoa Powder in this recipe, the cookies may be lighter in color and drier.
Neutral Oil: the tenderness of this gluten-free chocolate zucchini cake comes from the vegetable oil since it stays liquid even after cooling. I use grapeseed oil in my baking but a neutral oil such as vegetable oil or even olive oil will work just fine. I do not use coconut oil in my baking.
A note about Gluten Free Flour Blends
I test every recipe shared on my website with 2-3 different gluten free flour blends including my own blend. Not all gluten free flour blends are created equally. Cup4Cup works the best for delicate applications, King Arthur Measure for Measure is great for a baked good where you want structure and Bob’s Red Mill 1 for 1 is great for cookies and cakes. I did an extensive bake-off which you can find more about here: The Cookie Bake Off.
Please remember – you can NOT substitute a gluten free flour blend with one single product such as almond flour or coconut flour. You will receive the best results when using blends. I understand not everyone has access to products available in the US.
Secret to tender gluten free chocolate zucchini cake
The secret to a tender, moist gluten-free chocolate cake is using oil instead of butter. My gluten free chocolate zucchini cake is made with cocoa powder and oil. This gives it an intense chocolate flavor with a tender texture. There is no milk/butter in the batter to weaken the intense chocolate flavor coming from the cocoa solids so it’s the cocoa powder’s time to shine. And the tenderness of this gluten free cake comes from the vegetable oil since it stays liquid even after cooling.
Cakes made with butter normally should be brought to room temperature before serving. Yes, you can totally eat my gluten free chocolate zucchini cake straight from the fridge and it will be tender and delicious.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350F and line an 8×8 square or an 8″ round pan with parchment paper and set aside. Make sure to leave some overhang if using a squae pan which will help to remove the fully baked chocolate cake from the pan.
Step 2: Shred and squeeze all the excess water from the grated zuccYou will need 225 grams of shredded and squeezed zucchini (so make sure to measure it AFTER squeezing it)
Step 3: Sift together the gluten free flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, ground cardamon and espresso powder (both optional) and set aside.
Step 4: Combine sugars, eggs, vanilla extract and oil in a large bowl and whisk together.
Step 5: Add the dry ingredients and shredded zucchini to the wet ingredients and mix with a spatula until fully combined. If the batter is very dry, allow for it to sit for a minute. The shredded zucchini should start to release some liquid which will moisten the batter. The batter overall will be more on the stiffer side.
Step 6: Transfer the gluten free chocolate zucchini cake batter to the prepared pan and smooth out with an offset knife or a spoon. Bake at 350F for 28-34 minutes. The center of the cake will spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.
Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing it from the cake pan. Cool completely before frosting.
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
American Buttercream is made by creaming together unsalted butter, powdered sugar, milk/heavy cream, and flavorings (like cocoa powder). This American butter cream can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days or store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Start with room temperature ingredients. I prefer to use soft but cool butter, which should not appear shiny or greasy. The ideal temperature for butter is actually 65F which is a lot colder than many of us consider room temperature. To test if your butter is at room temperature nudge it with your finger. You should see an indent but the butter should not feel like you can poke right through it.
Cream your Butter: Cream the butter, vanilla extract/paste, and salt for 2-3 minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. This helps to aerate the butter and give your finished buttercream body and volume.
Mix in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder: We all know powdered sugar and cocoa powder have a mind of their own. With the mixer running on low, add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder one third at a time. Make sure to scrape down the sides in between additions. Once all the dry ingredients have been added, turn up the speed of your mixer and mix for 2 minutes.
Add Liquid: A lot of times American Buttercream needs to be loosened up a bit. I use milk for this (non dairy works fine).
How to decorate a Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Once the gluten-free chocolate zucchini cake is fully cooled, transfer it to a serving platter and frost the top with a generous layer of the chocolate frosting. Garnish with some chocolate curls if you like. Then slice the cake and enjoy a piece of this delicious cake.
You may store any leftovers of this gluten-free cake in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. For longer storage place it in your refrigerator for up to 7 days. This cake also freezes very well. Thaw it at room temperature before serving.
Frequently asked Questions for Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Can I make this recipe with “regular” flour?
Yes. Please substitute the gluten-free flour with 235 grams of all-purpose flour.
Can I make this cake vegan?
While this cake is already dairy free, I do not believe you will be able to achive a light and tender chocolate cake with an egg substitute.
Can I freeze this gluten free chocolate zucchini cake?
If you have some leftovers of this cake, I recommend freezing it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Can I turn this cake into muffins?
Yes. This batter should give your 12 muffins. Bake them for 20-22 minutes at 350F.
My chocolate cake batter is very dry!
While stirring your cake batter you may have a moment of “Oh my, this is very dry”. Do not add more liquid and just let the batter sit for a few minutes. The zucchini will start to release liquid which will moisten your cake batter. If your batter is still very dry, you may have squeezed out every drop of water of the zucchini and I recommend adding 1 tablespoon of zucchini liquid (the water you pressed out of your zucchini) or regular tap water.
Baking in grams
My recipes are posted in grams since baking by weight is the most accurate way to bake. Digital Scales are very affordable and can be found on Amazon for less than a set of measuring cups. Measuring cups are very inaccurate and can cause significant errors when it comes to baking. Especially since I bake with gluten-free flours which weigh differently than “regular” flours. I do provide some ingredients like spices and leavening agents in measuring spoons.
Note about Ovens and Oven Temperatures
All my recipes are tested and developed with a conventional oven. I always bake my baked goods on the rack placed in the MIDDLE of my oven. This way the heat coming from the bottom will not burn my baked goods.
If you are baking with convection (fan-forced), please adjust the recipes accordingly. Be also prepared that the convection oven can cause your baked goods to dry out quickly and still be raw inside. Be aware that it takes at least 15-20 minutes for a standard American Oven to be fully preheated. I highly recommend investing in an Oven Thermometer.
Substitutions and Modifications
Any dietary or ingredient modifications/substitutions to this recipe may alter the end result in appearance and taste. My recipes have been tested several times as published in this post and The Gluten Free Austrian Blog is not responsible for the outcome of any recipe found on our website.
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- 250 grams gluten free multi-purpose flour
- 65 grams cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamon (optional)
- 1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 65 grams neutral oil (like grapeseed oil)
- 100 grams light brown sugar
- 80 grams granulated white sugar
- 225 grams grated, squeezed zucchini
For Chocolate Frosting
- 113 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
- 175 grams powdered sugar
- 30 grams unsweetened cocoa powder, dutch processed
- 2-3 teaspoons milk or heavy cream (dairy or non-dairy)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
How to make Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Line an 8x8 cake pan with parchment paper and set it aside. Make sure to leave some overhang so the cake can easily be removed from the pan.
- Sift together gluten free flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cardamom (if using), and espresso (if using).
- In a separate bowl whisk together eggs, egg yolk, oil, and both sugars until smooth. Mix in the grated and squeezed zucchini.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix with a spatula until fully combined. If your batter is very dry, allow for it to sit for a minute. The zucchini should start to release some liquid which will moisten the batter. The batter overall will be more on the stiffer side.
- Add the batter to your prepared pan and smooth out with an offset knife or a spoon.
- Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes. The center of the cake will spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.
- Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan before removing it from the cake pan. Allow for it to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Chocolate buttercream frosting
- Cream the butter, vanilla extract/paste, and salt for 2-3 minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl.
- With the mixer running on low, add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder one third at a time. Make sure to scrape down the sides in between additions.
- Once all the dry ingredients have been added, turn up the speed of your mixer and mix for 2 minutes.
- Add milk/heavy cream as needed to thin out the frosting.
How to assemble your Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake
- Make sure your cake is fully cooled
- Place on a serving plate.
- Top with a generous heap of Dark Chocolate Ganache and spread over the top of the cake.
- Top with chocolate shavings or Mini Chocolate Chips and enjoy!
It might be possible your cake will appear slightly underbaked in the middle when you cut it. This is caused by the moisture of the zucchini. I have tested this recipe several times and every time the middle appeared very moist.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 280
Calories are a guestimate.