Ultra rich and decadent chocolate zucchini cake that’s undetectably healthy, vegan, dairy free, Paleo, and gluten free. This is the ultimate healthy zucchini recipe in the form of a moist and chocolatey slice of heaven!
In my oh so humble opinion, there is nothing more decadent than a slice of chocolate cake. Three tiers. Extra chocolate buttercream frosting.
Now, a slice chocolate cake with hidden vegetables? And that’s vegan? And gluten free? And Paleo, yet you’d never know?!
That’s more like it 😉
This decadent, triple layer healthy chocolate zucchini cake is everything you’d ever want in a cake: it’s moist, ultra rich, fudgy yet light, and sooooo incredibly chocolatey that you’ll think, Maybe I should put my fork down before it’s all gone… but truly just can’t because it’s just so dang good!
But hey, there’s zucchini in it so that helps right?! Not that you’d be able to tell 😉
Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Cake Ingredients
So what the heck goes into a vegan and Paleo chocolate zucchini cake recipe that makes it still taste like the classic?!
Well, let’s go over the ingredients you’ll need for this vegan chocolate zucchini cake recipe:
- Shredded zucchini
- Cassava flour
- Coconut sugar
- Cacao powder: go for cacao over cocoa- much richer taste, and more benefits!
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Dairy free milk mixed with apple cider vinegar: I highly recommend pea milk here, as it has more protein than other dairy free milks. The brand I use is Ripple, but feel free to use whichever you prefer! You can also use coconut milk (not cream) or almond milk!
- Vegan butter
- Espresso powder: this is optional but highly recommended
- Leavening agents: ya know, your standard baking soda and powder!
Now, let’s get to work on this layered zucchini cake!
How to make chocolate zucchini cake
What I love about vegan cakes in general is that they can look really elegant and fancy while still being easy and doable for all baking levels. All tiered cakes are is stacking one layer on top of the other. Not that hard at all!
The trick to making a decadent and moist, yet still sturdy and fluffy vegan chocolate zucchini cake is all in the zucchini, so we’ll go over that in the tips section below.
For now, we’ll make the cake just like you would any other vegan chocolate cake.
Sift together the cacao powder, cassava flour, and coconut sugar, then whisk in the leavening ingredients.
Fold in the wet and continue mixing until all the clumps have disappeared.
Add in the zucchini and mix it all together!
Pour the chocolate zucchini cake batter into three 6-inch springform pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out clean.
And then allow the cakes to cool completely before starting the buttercream. I’ve had one too many cakes topple over because of my lack of patience in the cooling process ha! Don’t let that happen to you!
How to make vegan chocolate buttercream
A cake is simply not complete without the buttercream, but if you’re vegan, then you can’t use butter.
Thankfully, they have some wonderful vegan substitutes, such as Miyoko’s Vegan Butter or Forager Project Vegan Butter, that is what I heavily rely on to make my vegan buttercream frostings.
With this vegan buttercream frosting in particular, we’re making it entirely refined sugar free, so I make my own powdered coconut sugar by pulsing the coconut sugar in a food processor until its a fine powder. You can use regular powdered sugar if desired.
Once all of the layers have cooled completely, I start to make the chocolate buttercream.
Beat the softened (yet still cool) vegan butter in a large bowl. Sift in the cacao powder and powdered coconut sugar (that’s the kicker! No refined sugar in here!) in increments while you beat. Add in a little dairy free milk for consistency and then frost the cake!
I use about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of frosting per layer, and then I love to do a scraping over icing along the sides. I’m not sure why I love this look so much, but I do!
Tips for making Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Making a healthy chocolate cake is one thing, but making a healthy chocolate zucchini cake that you wouldn’t even know contained a speck of a vegetable?!
Now that’s another.
It’s definitely easy if you follow this recipe, but here are a few extra tips that I think really add to making the best vegan chocolate zucchini cake that even non-vegan eaters will go ga-ga over!
- I recommend using a box grater to shred the zucchini. This will save you some arm work (and hopefully be bit safer!) than using a handheld grater.
- Dry the zucchini before folding it into the vegan chocolate batter: If there is one thing you do, please please please make sure that you’ve pat the zucchini! It doesn’t have to be completely dry, but if it’s still leaving a paper towel sopping wet, it’s too wet. This is key for texture. Cassava flour generally likes moisture, but too much and you’ll get a gooey inside- not what you want for a chocolate zucchini cake!
- I personally recommend pea milk as the dairy free milk because I like that there’s some added protein in there, but feel free to use either regular coconut milk or almond milk! I do not recommend using coconut cream or light coconut milk.
- Create a homemade Paleo powdered sugar for your Paleo vegan buttercream! To do this, I pulse the coconut sugar in a mini food processor until it’s a powder. This takes about 2-3 minutes tops, and it fluffs up just like powdered sugar! It honestly makes for the ultimate Paleo chocolate zucchini cake.
- You can make this a three tiered or a two tiered chocolate zucchini cake: If you go for a two tier cake, I recommend using two 8-inch cake or springform pans.
Can you freeze vegan chocolate zucchini cake?
Yes! You can freeze the chocolate zucchini cake in slices with the buttercream on, then allow it to come to room temperature for about 2 hours when ready to consume. It will last about 1 month in the freezer.
You can also store this layered zucchini cake on the counter or in the fridge. If you store the cake on the counter, cover it, and it will keep for up to 3 days (though it won’t last you that long ha!).
If you store the cake in the fridge, make sure you allow it to unthaw for 15 minutes before consuming, as cassava flour tends to toughen up a bit in cooler temperatures.
This is truly my favorite way to use up that last bit of zucchini you have from your summer farmer’s market trips 😉
Every single person who tried a slice (we have many people who come through this house- kids, adults, friends, extended family!) was shocked when I told them that this healthy chocolate zucchini cake was indeed vegan and Paleo!
No one knew!
So if I were you, I’d give this healthy chocolate zucchini cake a go 😉 But do me a favor, don’t tell anyone our little secrets (that it’s dairy free, gluten free, Paleo, and vegan!) until after their first bite! Just watch their jaws drop!
Happy chocolate cake baking!
More healthy vegan cake recipes:
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Ultra rich and decadent chocolate zucchini cake that’s undetectably healthy! Completely vegan, dairy free, Paleo, and gluten free, it’s a moist and chocolatey slice of heaven!
- 3 cups cassava flour
- 1 1/4 cup cacao powder
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp espresso powder (optional)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 1/4 cups pea milk, coconut milk, or almond milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini, patted dry
- Preheat the oven to 350F and line three 6-inch springform pans with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, sift together cassava flour, cacao powder, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda, optional espresso powder, and sea salt.
- Add in unsweetened applesauce, dairy free milk, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract. Mix either with a spoon or hand mixer until thoroughly combined.
- Fold in zucchini and mix again until the zucchini is evenly spread throughout.
- Divide batter evenly amongst the 3 pans and place into the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before leveling out.
- Let cool completely before frosting.
- When ready to prepare the vegan buttercream, use a hand mixer to beat the softened vegan butter until it’s whipped and it begins to increase in volume.
- Sift in cacao powder and continue to beat.
- Slowly add in coconut sugar in 1/2 cup increments until it becomes a nice and thick buttercream. To help with the consistency, add in a tbsp of dairy free milk at a time until it reaches a soft, moveable yet firm consistency.
- Frost each layer and serve! Store in the refrigerator to keep the buttercream from melting, and let it sit out on the counter for 15 minutes to soften.
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