This is one of my favorite times of year.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Fudge Zucchini Snack Cake with Candied Pistachios I

Because you get to put vegetables in CAKE.

Green stuff, right into dessert. It’s like eating your vitamins and stuff.

Plus it makes the cake super moist and soft.

No. Don’t even give me crap for that word unless you have a better alternative. Since I’m pretty sure you don’t want a damp, soggy or clammy cake.

So we’re cool?

Whole Wheat Chocolate Fudge Zucchini Snack Cake with Candied Pistachios I

I’m all about baked goods with zucchini because, hello – it puts healthy stuff right into your dessert. I also kinda like the texture since, well, if you haven’t learned by now I am a complete texture freak. I have to say that my favorite zucchini treat is that old fashioned bread, but this is only trailing behind by a hair.

Sorry. Hair and baked goods. Not a good mix.

Here’s the other thing. I am pistachio CRAZED. Back in the day, I used to think that pistachio-flavored things were for old people. Which, you know, I can say now since I am an old person and love pistachio everything. But really, pistachio flavor ranked up there for me about as high as butter pecan. It sounds okay but… eh, I’ll try it when I’m 65.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Fudge Zucchini Snack Cake with Candied Pistachios I

Then I downed a few pints of pistachio gelato (the talenti version… !) and wanted pistachio everything in my face for the rest of my life. Too much pistachio was still not enough pistachio. I made pistachio pesto and talked all about this before but I’m not positive that I conveyed my severe pistachio dependency. Especially since I am that person who hates nuts in their desserts. Nuts belong in a bowl on your coffee table. Not in your cookies.

Luckily, I am a gigantic hypocrite. I made the pesto (A+), made some chocolate pistachio cookies (big fat F), made an insaaaane pistachio cream cake for the cookbook (A++++ times infinity) and now have made this cake with candied pistachios. I’m certain that candied pistachios are going to be my new thing. As far as things are concerned.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Fudge Zucchini Snack Cake with Candied Pistachios I

I get that many of us are quite different, but a cake made with whole wheat flour and a vegetable is a legitimate snack in my world. I’m totally serious too. I’m obviously not talking about three slices of this cake, but I find that a square of this in the afternoon is perfectly acceptable. I threw the whole thing together based on my banana bread snack cake, which is one of my all time favorite snacks. So yeah. Maybe not an every day snack. Maybe not even an every week snack. But still a snack? Yes.

Or in most normal people’s life: dessert.

Hey, at least I’m not trying to sell you on it for breakfast.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Fudge Zucchini Snack Cake with Candied Pistachios I


Whole Wheat Chocolate Fudge Zucchini Snack Cake with Candied Pistachios

Yield: makes one 9x9-inch pan

Total Time: 1 hour


1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups freshly grated zucchini
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks/chips

candied pistachios & chocolate topping
2/3 cup roasted pistachios
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon hot water
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips/chunks
1 tablespoon coconut oil (this just helps the chocolate firm up)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8x8-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set it aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and the sugar. Once smooth, whisk in the egg, sour cream/yogurt, milk and vanilla extract. Stir the mixture until it is a smooth batter. Gradually add in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Spread the batter into the greased pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes.

candied pistachios & chocolate topping
Spread the pistachios out on a baking sheet layered with parchment paper. Mix together the hot water and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved, then toss the pistachios with the sugar liquid. Roast the nut at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan and let the pistachios cool completely before breaking them apart and chopping them.

Melt the chocolate chips in a doubler boiler or in the microwave. Once they are melted, stir in the coconut oil until it's melted. Remove the cake from the pan once it has cooled slightly and pour the chocolate overtop. Cover the chocolate with the chopped pistachios. Slice and serve!

[cake adapted from my banana bread snack cake; pistachios loosely based on this recipe]

Whole Wheat Chocolate Fudge Zucchini Snack Cake with Candied Pistachios I

P.S. if sweet zucchini stuff isn’t you thing…. you should probably definitely make this fried zucchini grilled cheese. Like now.

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76 Responses to “Whole Wheat Chocolate Fudge Zucchini Snack Cake with Candied Pistachios.”

  1. #
    Meg Jones | The Spatularettes — August 23, 2013 @ 6:55 am

    I developed a tree nut allergy in college and to be honest, I don’t miss them much. Except for pistashios. Pistashios and cashews, oh baby! But yeah, this onie make me miss them more. Beautiful photos! Have a great weekend : )


  2. #
    Becks @ eatwriterunrepeat — August 23, 2013 @ 7:03 am

    um, WOW. Zucchini + pistachios = LOVE. They look awesome!!


  3. #
    sally @ sallys baking addiction — August 23, 2013 @ 7:27 am

    Jessica, this has got to b e the BEST looking zucchini cake I’ve ever seen! And those candied pistachios? Glorious, And yes, a square in the afternoon sounds like snacktime to me. Happy Friday!


  4. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — August 23, 2013 @ 7:28 am

    These photos are absolutely amazing Jess! You’re going to think I’ve been living under a rock, but I’ve never had zucchini cake. I eat a TON of zucchinis in savoury-dish form but I’m a zucchini cake virgin. You’ve convinced me that needs to change. ;)


  5. #
    Belinda @themoonblushbaker — August 23, 2013 @ 7:30 am

    Green on Green is the bomb. I am not a big fan of veggies in cake but I think I could make an exception for this one because it has my fave nut in it. I would love to try this with green pumpkin seeds instead for the nut free verison, I bet it will still taste fab


  6. #
    Rachel Cooks — August 23, 2013 @ 7:37 am

    Candied pistachios! Love!


  7. #
    Tieghan — August 23, 2013 @ 7:38 am

    Yup, best zucchini baked good of the season! All that chocolate on top and the pistachios! Oh my freaking gosh! It is heaven in a cake!


  8. #
    Natalie — August 23, 2013 @ 7:41 am

    Chocolate zucchini cake was one of my favorite things growing up… my mom had to trick me into eating it the first time but after that it was all over… we had one a week all through summer covered with melted chocolate chips on the top… and when it went stale my dad would put a piece in a bowl and pour milk over it… sounds nasty but i still do it to this day lol…

    can’t wait to try pistachios!


  9. #
    Erin | The Law Student's Wife — August 23, 2013 @ 7:45 am

    Pistachio gelato is my new habit that I have zero intention to break. This looks like a perfectly acceptable snack (and breakfast…and maybe snack, part II) to me!


  10. #
    Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama} — August 23, 2013 @ 7:45 am

    I’m so making this. Chocolate and pistachios are two of my family’s favorite things, so I have to give this a try. My husband might even forgive me for putting nuts on top of his cake.


  11. #
    Madison — August 23, 2013 @ 7:57 am

    I love the addition of candied pistachios on top. That makes it even more healthy, right? :)


  12. #
    DessertForTwo — August 23, 2013 @ 8:11 am

    Clammy cakes for all!

    Ok, Talenti pistachio gelato is good, but you’ve got to try Ciao Bella! It changed my life. Really.


  13. #
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — August 23, 2013 @ 8:15 am

    I want this reaaaally bad right now. Yum!


  14. #
    Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots — August 23, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    dear lord, I need this stat!


  15. #
    Michelle — August 23, 2013 @ 9:00 am

    :Jaw Drops:…Wow.


  16. #
    lacy — August 23, 2013 @ 9:16 am

    cake 4 breakfast 4 life. green gene.


  17. #
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough — August 23, 2013 @ 9:19 am

    Snack cake is MY LIFE. Love this version. That chocolate glaze is making me weak in the knees.


  18. #
    Jenna — August 23, 2013 @ 9:35 am

    This is so beautiful! Cant wait to try it


  19. #
    collette — August 23, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    I so want candied pistachios right now!! I have loved pistachio flavored anything since elementary school- I was old before my time!


  20. #
    Christine @ Cooking with Cakes — August 23, 2013 @ 9:59 am

    I’ve eaten worse things for breakfast (cold pizza, gummy bears, beer) so I can definitely get on board with this anytime of day!


  21. #
    bridget {bake at 350} — August 23, 2013 @ 10:00 am

    Oh. YES!!!

    But, you’re not telling me that I *can’t* have it for breakfast, right?!? ;) I would be so proud of myself having veggies for breakfast!


    • Jessica — August 23rd, 2013 @ 10:18 am



  22. #
    Christine @ Gotta Eat Green — August 23, 2013 @ 10:17 am

    Are you also a photographer? Seriously girl your photos are the bomb. And umm… this cake looks amazing, as always.


    • Jessica — August 23rd, 2013 @ 10:18 am

      oh gosh no… photography is my least favorite part of the process. but thank you so much!


  23. #
    Lauren — August 23, 2013 @ 10:32 am

    I’m pretty sure this is the most nutritious cake I have ever seen. Zucchini, greek yogurt, pistachios, and coconut oil! I could definitely justify eating this cake for breakfast, lunch, dinner.


    • Kearsten — August 24th, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

      Exactly what I was thinking. The only ‘bad’ part is the cup of chocolate chips/chunks. Packed with nutrients and whole grain goodness…what’s not to like?

      I absolutely adore zucchini bread. This looks right up my alley! The only thing I don’t have in the house to make it is the chocolate stuff and Greek yogurt….something I will remedy very soon!


  24. #
    Lauren @ Focused To Be Fit — August 23, 2013 @ 10:41 am

    HOLY CRAP!! Mouth is watering.


  25. #
    Kelly Jo — August 23, 2013 @ 10:45 am

    I’m so glad I have cookies in my purse because that cake is making me want something sweet immediately. I was saving the cookies for later but I have more at home :)


  26. #
    Jess — August 23, 2013 @ 10:59 am

    I read my blogs in a reader (feedly) so I don’t always pay attention to who writes what. I click on the stuff I like and even THEN I don’t really pay attention to what site I’m on. I saw the title & the picture, drooled, then clicked over here. Started reading and I thought “Oh, this HAS to be Jessica …” Yep.

    You are made of win, madam. Made of win. :)


  27. #
    allie@sweetpotatobites — August 23, 2013 @ 11:01 am

    I’ve done zucchini muffins before with chocolate chips (because chocolate makes everything better), but never tried a zucchini chocolate cake! Love this idea.


  28. #
    grace — August 23, 2013 @ 11:49 am

    candied pistachios! i’m chagrined that i didn’t think of that myself. :)


  29. #
    Larry — August 23, 2013 @ 11:52 am

    Ummmmmm, so other than our love of denim jackets/vests, neon, Lisa Frank and 90s girl things…… PISTACHIOOOOOOOOOOOOOS!!! I love them. LOVE THEM. My friend the other day had habañero flavored pistachios. OMG. In my FACE.


  30. #
    Jamie@Milk N Cookies — August 23, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

    Yum! My mother used to make zucchini chocolate chip muffins for us when we were younger to sneak some vegetables into our diet without us noticing. This cake looks like a much more grown-up version of what I remember from childhood.

    And I completely understand how you felt about pistachios. I started to love them a few years ago, but until then, I lumped them together with butter pecan. And how about rum raisin? Don’t think I’ll ever like that one!


  31. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — August 23, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

    I want this for breakfast……


  32. #
    annie @ — August 23, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

    Yummy!! I’m definitely going to give this a try…it looks amazing!


  33. #
    Jillienne @ ChasingRaspberries — August 23, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

    Holy zucchini! I want this ooey gooey goodness right now! Looks amazing!


  34. #
    Maria Tadic — August 23, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

    This looks awesome! I will be bringing this to work next week – lots of health conscious snackers in myoffice!


  35. #
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves — August 23, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

    Holy smokes. Can I have this, like, 3 times a day…because it’s whole wheat? ;) Obviously, I think this looks delicious!


  36. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — August 23, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

    I have never put zucchini and chocolate cake together! I have made a chocolate chip zucchini cake, but never a fullon chocolate one and I bet this cake is delish!! That frosting, too, cannot hurt :) Mmm, wonderful creativity on this one!


  37. #
    Taylor @ FoodFaithFitness — August 23, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

    I just jumped on the pistachio train and am too never getting off…This cake looks perfect to continue my new found addiction! Yum!!!


  38. #
    Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes — August 23, 2013 @ 4:11 pm

    I’m insanely in love with pistachios too, but it took me a while. I blame in on the horrible fake green pistachio ice cream I grew up with, only old people ate that!


  39. #
    Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe — August 23, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

    Yes, I can totally get behind this. For some reason, I am crazy about the zucchini and chocolate combo. Probably because the chocolate flavor really hides the zucchini (even though I totally love zucchini). Anyways, being able to call a chocolate cake a snack is a total win. Don’t even get me started on the beauty that is those candied pistachios.


  40. #
    Martyna — August 23, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

    oh, I’d eat that! xx

    Martyna | NEON MIZZLE


  41. #
    Lauren — August 23, 2013 @ 5:01 pm

    This looks amazing! But I have a question that may or may not be silly. Are you supposed to let the zucchini sit for a bit to let the liquid soak out of it or not?

    Also-you DO know talenti now has gelato bars, yes?


  42. #
    Katie — August 23, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

    This is healthier than most breakfast cereals. You sold me.


  43. #
    Lisa Pallone — August 23, 2013 @ 6:01 pm

    In the yield it says one 9×9 pan but in the instructions it says 8x 8. Which pan should I use?


  44. #
    Samantha C. — August 23, 2013 @ 8:49 pm

    In the oven right. now. Off to lick the bowl!


    • Samantha C. — August 23rd, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

      Definitely a success, people. I didn’t even make the topping and chocolate sauce because, even though it looks DIVINE, I am way too lazy. The cake is super fudgey and thick and just begs for a glass of milk. I will be making this again for sure!

      P.S. In case you are unsure about the zucchini releasing too much moisture into your batter, I’ll just share that I lightly pressed mine after grating. Nothing crazy (I didn’t wring it out or anything), and the batter didn’t end up too runny at all.

      Thanks, Jessica!


  45. #
    Emily @ Life on Food — August 24, 2013 @ 6:14 am

    Heaven. I want. I want.


  46. #
    gregory urbano — August 24, 2013 @ 9:20 am

    yummy and healthy!


  47. #
    Christina Gathright — August 24, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

    Loving everything about this cake! Hmm I do believe I see this cake in my near future. Like this afternoon! lol


  48. #
    Carolyn Holdsworth — August 24, 2013 @ 7:58 pm

    I just made this about 2 hours ago…and good living lord it is magnificent. Everything about the recipe is spot-on and so easy. My only adjustment is a 25 minute baking time for the cake (my oven runs a tad hot and I like my baked goods a tad under-done.) The combination of flavors is wonderful…salty and sweet and chocolaty…wow! And I get a few veggies to boot?! I’m sold. Go. Make this. Now. Nice work, Jessica! xo


  49. #
    dervla — August 24, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

    ok i’m gonna give you a pass on the M-word…this time. And a resounding yes to talenti pistachio … amazing!


  50. #
    Ala — August 25, 2013 @ 12:15 am

    Can’t bring myself to eat cake on a daily basis…but a SNACK cake (meant for snacking, of course) I think I can do. Love the green, and LOVE the fudge. Thanks for sharing!



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