This simple one bowl chocolate kabocha cake makes a perfect treat with its subtly sweet flavor against the dark chocolate and moist crumbs from the olive oil.
Every fall I stock up on kabocha and red kuri squash. They last about 3-4 months and get sweeter as you store them. Besides roasting them for salad and soup, I love baking with them from cake, cheesecake, and tart to creme brulee. One of my favorite bakes is a simple chocolate kabocha cake that works equally well for breakfast with a cup of tea or a snacking cake when you need an afternoon pick me up. The dark chocolate brings a nice contrast to the subtly sweet kabocha along with the super moist crumbs from the olive oil. It's a one bowl kind of cake that doesn't take a lot of time to whisk together.
- Kabocha squash: kabocha squash has dark green skin and an orange interior with a chestnut-like texture and sweet flavor. Pick kabocha with dark green skin, golden speckles, and firm with no soft spots. Store them in cool, dry conditions for up to a month or refrigerate if you want to keep them for longer.
- Olive oil: when it comes to baking, choose a quality fruity olive oil. Cakes made with olive oil tend to bake up with a moist and tender texture compared to ones made with butter.
- Chocolate: use a good quality chocolate like Valrhona (not sponsored) or your favorite brand. I used dark chocolate for this recipe but feel free to use bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate.
- Spices: I used mainly cinnamon and cardamom but feel free to substitute with cloves, nutmeg, or allspice.
How to Roast Kabocha
Roasting enhances the flavors of kabocha. As its minimal water content evaporates when heated, the nutty taste intensifies. Slice the kabocha, scoop out the seeds, brush both sides with olive oil, then roast the kabocha at 400°F for 30 minutes.
Once the kabocha is cool enough to handle, scrape out the squash flesh and transfer to a food processor and pulse until smooth. Reserve 1 ½ cups for the cake. Store any leftovers in the fridge, tightly covered, for up to 7 days for other baked goods or freeze for 3 months.
How to Make the Cake
- In a bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together kabocha puree, eggs, brown sugar, olive oil, vanilla, and salt until combined, about 5 minutes.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and cardamom over the wet ingredients. Beat for another 3 minutes to combine.
- Stir the chocolate chips into the batter.
For the chocolate kabocha cake, I made two small loaves using 7x3.5-inch loaf pans. You can use one 9x5-inch loaf pan.
How Long to Bake
For the two small loaves of chocolate kabocha cake, bake them in the oven at 350°F for 60 minutes. If you're making a big loaf, bake it at 350°F for 75-80 minutes. To check if the cake is done, insert a toothpick or skewer in the center. If done, the skewer should come out clean. If it's still wet, continue baking for another 5 minutes.
The chocolate kabocha cake keeps well up to 3 days at room temperature in a lidded container. After three days, refrigerate the cake and rewarm in the microwave for 10 seconds.
Chocolate Kabocha Cake
- 1 kabocha squash (about 1.5 pounds), seeds removed and sliced, need 1 ½ cups of puree
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
- Heat the oven to 400°F. Brush both sides of the squash slices with olive oil and lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast until the become soft and the edges start to caramelize, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let cool. Scrape out the squash flesh, transfer to a food processor, and pulse until smooth. Remove 1 ½ cups of squash puree.
- Measure out 1 ½ cups of squash puree and let it cool to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Brush two 7x3.5-inch loaf pans. Line with parchment paper.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk together pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, olive oil, vanilla, and salt until combined, about 5 minutes.
- Place sifter over mixing bowl and sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Whisk until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
- Divide the batter between two loaf pans.
- Bake in the middle rack until browned on the top and a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 60 minutes.
- Let cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges and use the parchment paper to lift the cakes out. Transfer to serving plate and slice before serving.
- Store any leftover squash puree in the fridge, tightly covered, for up to 7 days, or freeze for 3 months.
- The cake will keep at room temp in a lidded container for 3 days or refrigerated up to a week.