There are so many reasons to fall in love with and leave your heart in the city of San Francisco; the beautiful romance of the city; the mysterious Golden Gate Bridge; Fisherman’s Wharf; the beautiful view of the California coastline; all the wonderful food and wine; and of course, Ghirardelli Chocolate. Ghirardelli Chocolate was established in San Francisco in the 1840’s, during the time of the California gold rush, by Domingo Ghirardelli, who came from Rapallo, Italy. By the 1880’s the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was one of the largest chocolate companies on the West, selling over 50,000 lbs of chocolate a year. The ground chocolate was the product that was the staple of the Ghirardelli business. The process of grinding the cocoa was a process Mr. Ghirardelli invented and patented himself. Ghirardelli Chocolate was headquartered right in the heart of the city, overlooking the beautiful San Francisco Bay down below until 1966. Today, this is one of the main tourist attractions when visiting the city. The Ghirardelli corporate headquarters are now located in nearby San Leandro, CA. Ghirardelli is one of the only premiere chocolates made in America. Most of the other premiere chocolates hail from Europe.
I lived up in San Francisco many moons ago and I worked at a large Public Relations firm while there. Ghirardelli Chocolate was one of the many food clients that we represented. There were many perks associated with that job, one of which was I got to be amongst the first to try some of their new products and recipes that our firm created in our own test kitchen. I think it was while working at this job that my love affair with cookbooks really started to blossom. I have a very old, but well loved cookbook from Ghirardelli Chocolate and my Gold Rush Chocolate Zucchini cake was inspired from this old treasure.
Making the chocolate gold.
The rich, luscious chocolate zucchini Gold Rush Cake.
Chocolate Zucchini Gold Rush Cake
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/3 cup Ghirardelli cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 cups shredded zucchini (you can also substitute shredded carrots if you prefer)
3/4 cups Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
Chopped nuts are optional if you like. I did not put nuts in my cake though.
Mix the oil and sugar together until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time and blend well. Mix all the dry ingredients together and add 1/2 at a time to the egg and sugar mixture and mix well. Gently fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips and nuts if you are using them, and incorporate well into the batter. Pour into a prepared baking pan with a little cooking spray and flour. I used a bundt pan, which is going to having a slightly longer cooking time, but you can also use a 9×13 baking dish if you prefer. For a bundt, bake at 350*F for about 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake. If you are using a 9×13 baking dish, the cooking time will be about 50 minutes. Cool and remove from the pan. Once the cake is cooled, you can frost and decorate it.
3 cups powdered sugar
3 oz of either mascarpone cheese or cream cheese, softened. (I used mascarpone this time).
3 TBSP heavy whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup Ghirardelli cocoa powder
2 TBSP butter
Mix everything together in a mixer and spread over the cake. You might need to use a little warm water to dip the spreader in while spreading the frosting on the cake. Decorate as you desire. The result will be chocolate zucchini gold. There is gold in them thar cakes from San Francisco.
*** If you are making a carrot cake instead of a zucchini cake, use the same frosting only eliminate using the cocoa powder.