Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Recently I had the opportunity to go to a business lunch at Marea in NYC.  Everything I ate there was amazing, but one of the things that stuck out the most to me was from the little silver tray of cookies and other mini-treats that they served after the meal.  It was perhaps the most delicious zucchini cake I have ever tasted, topped with a little dollop of cream cheese frosting.  It was so moist and unbelievably delicious.  So I figured I would try to make my own.  Now I know better than to expect that my zucchini cake could ever compare with something I try at a restaurant like Marea.  I am good in the kitchen, but I am not 2 star Michelin Guide good.  And to be honest, neither are most professional chefs.  So it's all good.

I love the spices in this cake.  And then I love the combination of the cake with the slightly citrusy cream cheese frosting.  Then again, I think I would love cream cheese frosting on any type of cake.  My cupcake choices are often dictated by which cupcakes are topped with cream cheese frosting and I firmly believe that Magnolia's red velvet cupcakes would be immensely better if they had cream cheese frosting, rather than buttercream frosting (which I often find to be too sweet and too buttery).  This was my first experiment substituting apple sauce for vegetable oil and it turned out really nicely.  In the past I have always been worried that the flavor of the apple sauce would interfere with the flavor of the cake itself, but in this instance it worked marvelously (although I did think that a few days after being baked the texture of the cake turned a little gummy, which I attributed to the apple sauce).  The cake was very moist and very flavorful.  You can't really taste the zucchini, but the zucchini isn't really the point, is it?  The zucchini is there to fool you into believing that you're being healthy, while inhaling large quantities of delicious cream cheese frosting!  Then again, the zucchini does help to keep the cake moist, plus it makes the cake look so pretty with all of the vibrant green flecks (if you look closely in the picture above you can see some) so it definintely does have its uses.

Recipe after the jump!

Zucchini Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

For the cake:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 cup shredded zucchini
For the frosting:
4 oz unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2-2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp orange extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray an 8×8 inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
In the bowl of an stand mixer (or using an electric mixer), combine oil, applesauce, eggs, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  Slowly add dry ingredients and mix well.  Fold in the zucchini.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.

Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.
Using a stand mixer (or an electric mixer), beat together the butter and cream cheese.  With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar slowly until smooth and creamy.  Depending on how sweet you like your frosting you can decide whether to add 1 1/2 or 2 cups of powdered sugar.  Beat in the vanilla and orange extracts.

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