Why does it seem like every delicious food in the world is heavy, calorie-laden, and guilt-inducing? Sure, you want to shove your face full of pie, ice cream, and cake when the mood strikes you, but most of us would be lying if we didn’t admit that we’re occasionally (or constantly) self-conscious about the junk food that we’re eating.
Then, of course, the opposite end of the spectrum is fruits, veggies, and all things healthy. While these clean eating practices are well worth the sacrifice of most dessert foods, who doesn’t miss enjoying a warm batch of homemade cookies or break room chocolate?
Well, what if we told you that Food52 has graced us with the perfect middle ground between traditional junk food and healthy eating? You probably wouldn’t believe us — that IS a hard balance to find after all.
How is that possible? It’s all thanks to two very special, very secret, ingredients…both of them being vegetables.
The cake, while it looks all-chocolate, is actually made with zucchini! And that “normal” buttercream frosting? It’s actually made of dark chocolate and sweet potato puree! Who knew that veggies could make for such an extra moist dessert?
Big thanks to Food52 for letting us in on this amazing secret!
What do you think of this low-cal take on chocolate cake? Share your thoughts on this shockingly healthy recipe in comments section below.
Healthy Chocolate Sheet Cake
For the chocolate-zucchini cake:
- 1 pound (453g) zucchini (about 4 small), trimmed
- 2 1/2 cups (360g) white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup (48g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (312g) sugar
- 1 cup (245g) buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (112g) grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (180g) semisweet chocolate chips
For the sweet potato frosting:
- 1 (15-ounce; 425-g) can pure sweet potato puree
- 10 ounces (283 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (1⅔ cups)
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Coat a 9-by-13-by 2-inch cake pan or dish with nonstick cooking spray. If you’re using a metal pan, line the bottom and sides with foil or parchment paper and spray again.
- Set a box grater on some paper towels and grate the zucchini on the large holes. Spread it out on the paper towels, top with more paper towels, and press gently to remove excess moisture.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk the sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a medium bowl until very smooth. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk, gradually drawing in the dry ingredients, just until smooth. Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips with a silicone spatula until evenly incorporated. Spread the batter in an even layer in the prepared pan.
- Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top springs back a little when lightly pressed with a fingertip, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting: Bring the sweet potato puree to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Cool, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is at room temperature and the consistency of canned frosting. It should hold soft peaks when you lift the spatula from the pan but not be stiff. Spread the frosting all over the top of the cake, creating swoops and swirls.
- The cake is best the day it’s made, when the chocolate chips are still a bit melty and the frosting is soft, but it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.