Clotilde Dusoulier) I was very intrigued, I had to bake this cake and very, very soon.
It was very lucky that I had two courgettes sitting in my vegetable box just screaming out to be enveloped in a rich chocolate batter. I mean, lets face it getting smothered in chocolate isn't a bad thing to happen is it?
Despite my enthusiasm to try to out a new recipe, especially such an interesting one, I had my doubts about how it would turn out. Courgettes and olive oil in a sweet bake, it just didn't sound at all right in the scheme of things.
How wrong could I be? Immensely, judging by my friends and families reactions; lots of oohs, ahhs and mmms. No one could believe the cake contained courgette. It just added a fluffy moistness and the chocolate chips added a little crunch. The cocoa powder as usual brings a rich deepness to the whole episode.
The recipe provides a choice with the fat - butter or olive oil. I used an Umbrian extra virgin olive oil which I'd bought in a small bottega during my holiday in Assisi last spring, which lent a peppery tang. Next time I'll try using unsalted butter, which I think will make the cake slightly more moist and fluffy.
I topped the cake with melted white chocolate, mini gold dragees and silver sugar hearts.
110g unsalted butter at room temperature, or 120ml extra virgin olive oil plus 1 pat butter or teaspoon olive oil for greasing.
240g plain flour
60g unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
180g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
3 large eggs
350g unpeeled grated zucchini from about 1 1/2 medium zucchini - keep the remaining half-zucchini for optional garnish
160g good-quality bittersweet chocolate chips
Confectioner's sugar or melted bittersweet chocolate (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180'c and grease a 25cm spring form pan with butter oil oil.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a food processor, process the sugar and butter until creamy (you can also do this by hand, armed with a sturdy spatula). Add the vanilla, coffee granules, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.
3. Reserve about 120g of the flour mixture and add the rest to the egg mixture. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.
4. Add the zucchini and chocolate chips to the reserved flour mixture and toss the coat. Fold into the batter and blend with a wooden spoon - don't overmix. Pour into the prepared cake pan and level the surface with a spatula.
5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen the cake, and unclasp the sides of the pan. Let cool to room temperature before serving. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, glaze with melted chocolate, or decorate with a few slices of raw zucchini (you don't have to eat them though).