September 12, 2014

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins… or Cupcakes.

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins... Or Cupcakes | Fork Knife Swoon

Grey, fall days call for chocolate. Preferably dark chocolate.

The morning I baked these chocolate zucchini muffins, the kitchen was in a state of recipe-testing chaos. These were the first out of the oven, rising perfectly, and filling the room with the sweet aroma of cocoa. The dishwasher was already running. The sink sat filled with a collection of mixing bowls and measuring cups, spatulas, and baking pans, piled and teetering at mad-hatter’s angles, and threatening to collapse at any moment. In fact, I was running out of mixing bowls. The duplicates and triplicates that usually keep things smoothly on track were disappearing, and the reserves were in a sorry state.

A misty, cloudy grey sky peeked through the pines… and a batch of glazed apple cider doughnut muffins in the oven quietly erupted. As I extracted them, and stared at the sad lot before me, an imploded, mess of apple cinnamon goodness blurring the edges of the muffin tin, these zucchini muffins became cupcakes.

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins... Or Cupcakes | Fork Knife Swoon

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins... Or Cupcakes | Fork Knife SwoonDark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins... Or Cupcakes | Fork Knife SwoonDark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins... Or Cupcakes | Fork Knife Swoon

The muffin (or should I say cupcake) base was already rich and chocolate-y, belying the big scoops of fresh zucchini tucked inside. In all honesty, and the aforementioned and motivating recipe failure aside, it was a fine line to begin with, between muffin and cupcake. All it really took was some dark chocolate buttercream frosting – glam-ed up with silky mascarpone – to transform these sweet, veggie-filled muffins into decadent, dessert-ready cupcakes. I promise you, no one will believe these chocolate beauties are filled with humble zucchini.

If you’ve tried these dark chocolate banana muffins – and love them as much as we do – these chocolate zucchini muffins are right up your alley. Particularly when turned into cupcakes, slathered with dark chocolate frosting, and devoured… grey day, or not.

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins... Or Cupcakes | Fork Knife Swoon

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins... Or Cupcakes | Fork Knife Swoon

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins… or Cupcakes.

  • Author: Fork Knife Swoon
  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 12 Muffins 1x



Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Dark Chocolate Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting

  • 4 cups (16 oz) powdered (confectioners) sugar, sifted
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 oz mascarpone, softened
  • 34 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins/Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cups or cooking spray.
  2. Grate the zucchini. Wrap the grated zucchini in paper towel or cheesecloth, and very gently squeeze to release extra liquid. You want the zucchini to be moist (this will help keep the muffins/cupcakes moist) but not dripping wet.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, espresso powder and salt, until well-combined. Set aside.
  4. In another large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil and egg until very smooth and completely combined. Stir in the vanilla, followed by the zucchini. Gently fold in the flour mixture, and stir until just combined.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan, and bake for 17-19 minutes, until the muffin tops look set, and a cake-tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes before transferring the muffins to a baking rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Mascarpone Buttercream Frosting

  1. Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  2. In a stand-up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and mascarpone on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, about 1/4 cup at a time, until completely combined. Gradually increase the mixer speed to medium high. Add the milk and vanilla and mix until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. The frosting should be creamy but hold its shape.
  3. Immediately frost the (completely cooled) chocolate zucchini cupcakes, using a knife to spread, or a pastry bag to pipe on the frosting in the style of your choice. I used a #2d flower pastry bag tip for the frosting shown here.


Alternately, these muffins/cupcakes can be made into dark chocolate zucchini bread. Simply bake in a (greased) 9×5-inch loaf pan, for 40-50 minutes. Let cool on a baking rack (in the loaf pan) for at least an hour before removing and slicing.

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins or Cupcakes | Fork Knife Swoon @forkknifeswoon

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  • Reply
    Shirley Dixon
    September 7, 2016 at 10:19 am

    What are the calories for dark chocolate zucchini cupcakes without frosting?

  • Reply
    September 13, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I made your zucci/chocolate muffins today. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I bake with gluten free flour (brown rice flour). Usually that creates a much lighter texture than a traditional flour. It wasn’t the case today. I also wish I had added a bit of milk to lighten them up. These are really good but too rich for a breakfast muffin. I was disappointed in them for that reason. I wouldn’t make them again unless I added some fruit- the zuccini is just overpowered by the amount of chocolate. A dessert muffin – absolutely. But even then, I’d serve them with fresh strawberries or whipped cream, etc.

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  • Reply
    September 16, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    HI Laura, these turned out wonderful, love the way you frosted your muffins/cupcakes.

    • Reply
      September 16, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Thank you so much, Cheri!

  • Reply
    Chris @ Shared Appetite
    September 15, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Hahaha, I’ve had my fair share of recipe fails this weekend. #foodbloggerproblems These muffins turned cupcakes look amazing! Stunning pics too. Love that frosting!

    • Reply
      September 15, 2014 at 11:37 am

      Haha #foodbloggerproblems is right! Thanks, Chris!

  • Reply
    September 14, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Gorgeous pictures, as always :)! These sound delicious!

    • Reply
      September 15, 2014 at 11:39 am

      Thank you, Jaclyn!

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    September 13, 2014 at 11:57 am

    When it comes to muffins and cupcakes, I want my edges blurred!! So yummy!

    • Reply
      September 15, 2014 at 11:38 am

      I agree 🙂 Thanks, Katrina!

  • Reply
    September 13, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Wow these photos are absolutely stunning! That cupcake/muffin looks so stately. Beautifully done!
    – Katie

    • Reply
      September 15, 2014 at 11:38 am

      Thank you so much, Katie!

  • Reply
    jenna @ just j.faye
    September 13, 2014 at 5:00 am

    Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous! They make the muffins/cupcakes look so mysterious. Like, I want to get to know them better. As in, eat 5.

    • Reply
      September 13, 2014 at 8:22 am

      Thank you so much, Jenna! I may have done just that… as in, the batch is already gone.