Sweet chocolate zucchini cake and earthy matcha frosting contrast in this whole grain dessert that happens to be gluten free.
I remember the first time I had matcha- just pure, earthy matcha and hot water, nothing artificial or overly sweet about it. I was at my college mentor’s home for a celebratory lunch. Over the course of the semester, she had empowered me and stretched me in ways I’m still unpacking. She exposed me to a world of contemporary cinema, of revered films with lasting legacies, to documentaries highlighting issues that never made it to mainstream media. She introduced me to directors who would later break major stories (I had dinner with Laura Poitras!). Mostly, my mentor exposed me to her own tireless, relentless work ethic. She was and is powerful, and nothing could stand in her way.
The lunch was her husband’s way of exposing me to another cultural outlet: food! At the time, I lived off basic stir fries, peanut butter and the Whole Foods salad bar when I really treated myself (#college). His interest in Asian cuisines propelled his cooking.Flavors that have become more commonplace now required so much more effort in the pre-Amazon world (yes, I am ancient). He’d shop all the Asian grocers, seeking out the very specific ingredients and adopt each recipe into a memory-based arsenal. In short, this couple taught me passion and dedicated execution, and I sipped it up wholeheartedly.
Little did I know how expensive that concentrated matcha powder was! I asked for refill after refill, obsessed with its earthy potency. Even though I may experiment more now, sipping the vibrant green tea in frothy, homemade lattes or swirling it onto cakes, every scoop of that green powder takes me back to that lunch.
Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Matcha Frosting
About this Recipe: This low sugar, whole grain cake is still fudgey and sweet and perfect for sharing with gluten-free eaters. Sorghum, the base of this recipe, is an ancient whole grain that happens to be gluten-free. You can buy it at most organic grocers or online. Since raw cacao is more readily available and cheaper these days, I use it in place of regular cocoa in this recipe.
8 oz grated zucchini (about 2 small zucchinis)
1 cup organic coconut sugar
2 large eggs (local/free-range)
1/4 cup avocado oil (or sunflower oil or other neutral vegetable oil)
1/4 cup organic whole milk
1 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
6 oz cream cheese, softened
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup organic powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon good-quality, culinary-grade matcha
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
Cacao nibs for garnishing
To make the cake, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment.
Trim the zucchini and grate them on the medium holes of a box grater.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, oil, milk and vanilla extract, until combined well.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cacao, sorghum flour, brown rice flour, baking powder and salt, pushing through any clumps.
Stir half of the flour mixture into the egg mixture until smooth, then fold in the grated zucchini, stirring until smooth, followed by the remaining flour mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top springs back to the touch, and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs, 45-55 minutes.
Let cool completely in the pan, at least 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare the frosting.
For the Frosting:
Combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, matcha powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the frosting on low speed, increasing to medium speed until smooth, light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Use a small, offset spatula to dollop and spread the frosting on the cake. Garnish with cacao nibs and serve.
The cake is best within a day or two of baking, stored refrigerated airtight. Bring to room temperature before serving.