chocolate zucchini cake

Flashback to last fall: A large sum of money for  a master’s degree I wasn’t sure would benefit me. The economy crumbling. Journalism and publishing thrust suddenly into uncertain terms. Everyone running scared. Most of us dismal.

chocolate zucchini cake

The news kept pouring in. Magazine closures. Mass lay-offs. Falling stocks. It was a hard time in which to dream, but we pushed ahead. After all, the news—however depressing it was—kept pouring in.

I heard somewhere that if you do what you love, the money will follow.

chocolate zucchini cake

We listened to speakers challenge us to reinvention. We were urged to develop skills unheard of a year prior. We told each other over wine that it would be OK, that we’d find that elusive “something.” We joked about back-up plans. In the end, some of us pursued them.

And despite the pessimism, words and ideas compelled me on. There was really little else I could do.

chocolate zucchini cake

There were deadlines and ethics classes and pouring over 100-year-old magazines in the caverns of Cornell University. There were hundreds of phone calls and thousands of emails, and a beast called Media Law.

There was an incorrect byline, and months of correspondence with an editor just to get a tiny piece published.

chocolate zucchini cake

We fact-checked, edited, and wrote display copy until we were “dek’d” out in punchy prose. We interned, blogged, and built websites as we watched our favorite magazines sink like the Syracuse winter sun.

The things that kept us alive?  Coffee and conversation. Yoga. Significant others. Early-morning swims. Getting published. Parties. Praise from professors. Awards. The simplest things were somehow the most profound.

chocolate zucchini cake

Well, the money hasn’t followed yet, but a dream I never named as such has recently come true. The ingredients, never much on their own, have coalesced into something of great satisfaction and potential. I feel as grateful for these new gifts as I often do for dessert — a thing so unnecessary, and in a way, so undeserved.

This one is so soft and gently spiced with orange you’ll think the world a better place with each bite. And for now, at least in my little corner of Syracuse, it really is.

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake


2 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup cocoa
2 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup softened butter or canola oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated orange peel
2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
½ cup milk

Glaze: Mix together 2 cups powdered sugar, 3 Tablespoons milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until smooth.


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan lightly and dust it with flour.
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. Beat the butter (or oil) and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time.
  4. With a spoon, stir in the vanilla, orange zest and zucchini.
  5. Add the milk and dry ingredient mixture alternately to the creamed mixture, adding the nuts at the end.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for about 50 minutes, or until the cake passes the toothpick test. Cool in pan 15 minutes; turn out on wire rack to cool thoroughly.
  7. Drizzle glaze over cake and cut in thin slices to serve. Makes 10-12 servings.

from Sunset Magazine, via Simply Recipes

8 thoughts on “chocolate zucchini cake