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Chocolate Turtle Zucchini Cake

Our garden produced it’s first fruits while we were away last week.

Chocolate Turtle Zucchini Cake-5

Two, to be exact. We came home to our first zucchini of the season…. and one cucumber.  The cucumber went directly into our salad that evening for dinner, but the zucchini was destined for sweeter things. I love using zucchini in savory dishes like this Pasta with Roasted Squash and Ricotta Salata or this Roasted Vegetable Pasta.  But I knew as soon as I saw it that I would be making Chocolate Turtle Zucchini Cake.

Chocolate Turtle Zucchini Cake

I haven’t found my perfect go to classic chocolate cake yet. Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake has been floating me for the past few years, but doesn’t work well for me in larger pans or for cupcakes. I do love my newly discovered Chocolate Stout Cake and I’ve used that for layer cakes as well as Chocolate Stout Cupcakes filled with Irish Cream.  But I’m still working on my all time “go to” chocolate cake that will work in all sizes and shapes. Back in 2009, during my search for the perfect chocolate cake, I came upon this zucchini cake.

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Now, this won’t solve for my perfect classic chocolate cake recipe, but it’s definitely one delicious chocolate cake…of the zucchini variety.  It is so moist, so chocolatey… and the addition of the toasted pecans and chocolate chips really take it to another level.  Except when you pour on 10 Minute Buttermilk Caramel Sauce. Then… it’s over.  Drop the mike.  This is chocolate caramel nutty cakey heaven.

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You’ll forget that it has zucchini in it, which my kids actually think is cool. You’ll forget that it’s been lightened up with some applesauce.  You’ll forget that it’s just a simple sheet cake with basic ingredients, because you’ll be too busy enjoying the warm, buttery caramel sauce that’s melting the mini chips and coating the toasted pecans, then running over the chocolate cake that’s ready to soak it all up.

Okay, so we’ve established that you must make this Chocolate Turtle Zucchini Cake.  You must. There’s going to be plenty of zucchini around this summer whether it’s from your garden, your neighbor’s or your grocery store, so you’ll have no excuse.  And it’s another place you can use up the buttermilk you bought to make 10 Minute Buttermilk Caramel Sauce which, of course, is absolutely MANDATORY on top of this cake. It is a Chocolate Turtle Zucchini Cake after all…

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Wait!  Did I drop the mike?  Let me pick it back up again and suggest a scoop of your favorite ice cream to go with that chocolatey cake and the pool of buttery caramel sauce….I know, I know…we’re so far out of veggie healthy land now, we might never make it back.

Follow the trail of caramel sauce…

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I’m sure you’ll find some shredded zucchini somewhere ;)

Chocolate Turtle Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Turtle Zucchini Cake

Yield: 12 -18 servings


  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, I used Valrhona, but Hershey's works great too
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup 6 ounces mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 10 Minute Buttermilk Caramel Sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl beat sugar and oil for about a minute.
  4. Add eggs, applesauce and vanilla to the sugar mixture and beat for another minute.
  5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk starting and ending with flour mixture and beating on low after each addition just to combine. (1/3 of flour mixture, 1/2 of the buttermilk, 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 buttermilk, 1/3 flour mixture.)
  6. Stir in zucchini.
  7. Pour, then spread evenly into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven, sprinkle chocolate chips and pecans evenly over top.
  9. Return to oven and bake for 10-15 minutes longer or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve with warm 10 Minute Buttermilk Caramel Sauce.


*I shredded my zucchini right before I used it. I didn't peel or drain it and filled the measuring cup without pressing down hard and packing it. I just pressed very lightly to insure I had a full two cups. If it sits for awhile, liquid will begin to collect in the bottom. There was a little extra liquid that began to collect in the bottom of the bowl I used that I did not add to the batter.

*Tip for toasting nuts without burning them...If you have a toaster oven, spread the nuts evenly on a pan or piece of foil and use the toast setting on the lowest level. I toasted mine twice on the lowest setting. The timer helps you remember not to burn them, which can happen so easily if you're not vigilant.

Zucchini Cake from Taste of Home Buttermilk Caramel Syrup from Our Best Bites

The Merchant Baker Copyright © 2015

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Cyndi B

Friday 24th of July 2015

Abundance of zucchini here this week mandates that I make this.! Did you shred your zucchini with the small or large holes of your grater? This looks really good and a nice change (although delicious) from our roasted zucchini. In two weeks we will be drowning in tomatoes!


Friday 24th of July 2015

We do a lot of roasted zucchini as well (as you might be able to tell since I have two recipes on the blog with roasted zucchini in them :) For this cake, I used the large holes of the grater. I can't wait to hear what you think. We really love this cake, so I'll cross my fingers...And if you decide to eat it warm with vanilla ice cream? Sooo good!

We're already overwhelmed with tomatoes and making fresh tomato sauces and tomato salads. (If you're looking for something new to do with the tomatoes that are coming your way, take a look at my Mediterranean Pasta. It uses up two pints of grape tomatoes, (you could sub any kind) and is really delish.

Even though sometimes I'm looking at a counter full of stuff I have to figure out how to use, I just LOVE this time of year with all of the fresh herbs and veggies right at hand. I wish I had them year 'round!

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