Saturday, September 4, 2010

Eat Your Vegetables: Less-Sugar, Less-Fat Chocolate Zucchini Cake

At the end of summer, vegetables become plentiful and inexpensive at local supermarkets. What does this have to do with chocolate? Everything. Because any food can go with chocolate. Enter zucchini.

This poor zucchini doesn’t know what it’s in for. You see, for my birthday last week, my family got me a new food processor.

When the zucchini met the food processor, this is what happened to it.

I wanted to apologize to the zucchini. I love zucchini. On its own. Even raw. But I love it even more in cake. Such as this reduced-sugar, reduced-fat chocolate zucchini cake that I’m going to write about.


3/4 cup sucralose (e.g. Splenda)

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 ounces softened fat free cream cheese

1/3 cup softened butter

¾ cup egg substitute (e.g. Egg Beaters)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (Scharffen Berger Natural Unsweetened Cocoa)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup fat-free buttermilk

2 cups shredded zucchini

3 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (El Rey Apamate 73.5% Cocoa)

If you haven’t noticed, this recipe, which is loosely inspired by something printed in Cooking Light about a decade ago, has substantially less “good stuff” like sugar and fat than my previous recipes. While I obviously enjoy bona-fide chocolate treats, it’s not realistic to be able to devour a huge plate of cookies every day and be in great health. But by substituting for some of the fat and some of the sugar, you can still enjoy something healthy and chocolatey for dessert. Or breakfast. Or…whenever. So with that, here’s our modified spread of fats and sugars.

After pre-heating the oven to 350° F and preparing a bundt pan with cooking spray and flour, we take that modified fat and sugar spread and mix them together in a stand mixer for about 5 minutes on medium speed, and then pull out the egg substitute and vanilla.

Slowly add in the egg substitute in three additions with the mixer still on medium speed, and incorporate the vanilla with the last addition. You should have a light and sweet mixture that looks like this.

In the meantime, pull together all the dry ingredients. Be sure that you use very high quality cocoa and cinnamon, as these shine through even more in lower-fat, lower-sugar baking projects. I personally go for Penzey’s cinnamon and Scharffen Berger Chocolate.

Mix these all together in a separate bowl, and pull out your buttermilk to begin finalizing this luscious cake.

Incorporate the dry ingredients in three additions and the buttermilk in two, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Be careful to not overstir, and the batter should look like so.

Get out your finely chopped chocolate, which adds a lot of extra chocolate flavor and only ups the fat and calorie count a tiny bit.

Take that and your previously assaulted zucchini and carefully fold them into the batter, being careful to not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan.

Put it in the oven for 50-55 minutes, and feast your eyes on this gooey concoction.

Most amazingly, if you cut this cake into 16 slices, each slice has about 125 calories and 5.8 grams of fat. Not bad for something so moist, chocolatey, and just plain delicious. For the sake of argument, let’s just say that I…er, somebody, ate this whole thing in one day. Assuming that person ate nothing else that day, their diet would give them 2050 calories, 93 grams of fat, 240 grams of carbohydrates, 36 grams of sugar, 63 grams of protein, and 4 servings of vegetables. I feel like this is better than most Americans do on an average day. And given that it would be a diet composed entirely of DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE CAKE, it’s really good.


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