Today’s recipe is a bit of a departure for me because it’s anything but honest. If you’re scratching your head thinking “Wut?”, allow me to explain. There is not one but two vegetables hiding in this cake; a zucchini and THREE avocados. Yes, I know avocado is technically a fruit, but it doesn’t make any of this less shocking. I don’t believe in concealing vegetables in anything. If you’re going to eat a vegetable you should have to look it in the face first. I’m just kidding, veggies don’t have faces. But in all seriousness, I don’t believe in the futile exercise of making vegetables more palatable through deception. So, in some ways, I feel like today’s Zucchini Sheet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting goes against the very ideals I hold dear. On the other hand, the cake’s freaking delicious so I find it hard to care.
There’s something about healthifying desserts that I find ridiculous. I get working with dietary restrictions such as omitting eggs, dairy or gluten, but attempting to bring down the calorie count? I don’t know. Maybe you should just skip the cake? In my experience, when I make something semi-healthy for dessert, I just eat more of it thereby defeating the purpose of low-fat baking. But having said that, I can’t ignore the benefits of cutting down on refined sugars and whatnot so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about… I definitely don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m having a lot of very conflicting thoughts about this Zucchini Sheet Cake. Forgive me.
You know that little bit I just wrote? The part about understanding why people make things without refined sugar? Yeah, I didn’t do that. This cake has granulated sugar and the frosting has confectioner’s sugar, though less than your average fudgy frostings. So, there’s nothing particularly virtuous going on here other than a few extra vitamins.
The zucchini really doesn’t taste like anything, it just makes the cake blissfully dense and gives it a fetching soft green hue. And the avocado makes the frosting ultra lush and gives it a nice glossy finish. I suppose the avocado is better than butter depending on where your priorities are. The avocado definitely makes the frosting dairy-free, which is neat if you’re not so much with the lactose. The cake does have buttermilk though, so this dessert is really no help to anyone. I didn’t really have a plan or target demographic for this cake – I just made it.
This may be the most-ridiculous article to ever grace this blog, so before I lose you all completely with my pointless, quasi-healthy cake, let me explain it’s origins. Have you ever bought an entire bag of avocados because you’re tired of running out of avocados? Have you ever had the whole bag decide to ripen simultaneously? What’s a girl to do?! Oh, and have you ever noticed that at this time of year, it is impossible to leave a grocery store with just one zucchini? They always have packs of three or more and when all you want is to put a little bit of green on your shamefully carnivorous pizza, what the hell are you supposed to do with the zucchinis left languishing in your crisper? Are you picking up what I’m laying down?
Necessity is what made this cake happen. The state of my fridge and fruit bowl made me do it. My inability to throw away food guilt-free made me do it. And okay, yeah, maybe my sweet tooth also made me do it. So, in the end, this Zucchini Sheet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting is not an attempt to make dessert healthy, it’s an attempt to make excess, unwanted vegetables unhealthy. How’s that for a twist? There are numerous bloggers out there who work their butts off making wholesome, delicious healthy food. Sadly, I will never be one of them. Sure, there are healthy recipes on Rhubarb & Cod, but they inevitably wind up covered in carbs, cheese or both.
In closing, don’t make this Zucchini Sheet Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting because it has vegetables (okay, fruit too), make it because life is for living and cake is delicious.
- 1 large zucchini, shredded
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup hot water
- 2 whole eggs, beaten
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 3 very ripe avocados, peeled & pitted
- 1 2/3 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1 cup cocoa
- Pinch of salt
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Line a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Place the zucchini on a piece of cheesecloth and gather to form a bundle. Wring the zucchini out over the sink, removing as much excess moisture as possible. Transfer the zucchini to a bowl and set aside.
- In a small measuring cup, combine the milk and lemon juice and set aside to curdle.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir on a low speed to combine.
- Increase the speed of mixer slightly and stream in the butter and water. Mix until smooth - about 3 minutes.
- With the back of a knife, remove the caviar from the vanilla bean. Place caviar, eggs, and buttermilk in a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
- With the mixer running, add the buttermilk mixture to cake batter and mix until smooth and glossy.
- Add the shredded zucchini and mix until just combined.
- Transfer the finished batter to the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until golden.
- Let the cake cool completely before decorating.
- Place the avocado in a large food processor and blitz until smooth.
- Add the confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder and salt and process until uniform and glossy. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Either spread the frosting on the cake or transfer it to a pastry bag and pipe it on.
- Top the finished cake with sprinkles if desired and serve with coffee, tea or milk of choice.