Chocolate Hazelnut (Zucchini) Cupcakes

September 7, 2013 in Categories: , by

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Yes, these are that good.

Yes, these are that good.

Several years ago, I was at a birthday party and the cupcakes were frosted chocolate zucchini muffins.  I remember being impressed that you couldn’t taste the zucchini, but that it was a healthier alternative than regular ol’ chocolate cake.  Beyond adding some vitamin content, the addition of zucchini changes the texture to something moist and fudgy.  With the right amount of chocolate, you end up with something that feels very decadent.  Since the beginning of this blog, tackling a paleofied version of those cupcakes has been a goal of mine.

I needed some kind of nut flour to hold these cupcakes together, and I decided that it would be nice to use something that could contribute flavor in addition to texture and bulk.  Enter the hazelnut.  It’s no secret that there was a time in my life where I would eat a jar of nutella in one sitting with a spoon.  I remember being addicted to these amazing chocolates with a creamy hazelnut filling and buying them every time I went shopping.  Yes, the chocolate hazelnut combination is a flavor I have always loved.

These cupcakes are moist and fudgy, but still light.  And, they aren’t overly sweet, which means that there’s plenty of ways you could take them to that next level of decadence and still not be going completely nuts on sugar.  You could fold in some dark chocolate chips or chunks before baking.  I topped them with my whipped dark chocolate frosting using bittersweet chocolate (see this recipe).  You could use a pastry syringe and fill with my chocolate hazelnut “nutella” spread (see this recipe) and use this paleo-friendly “nutella” as a frosting.  You could drizzle with a chocolate drizzle like in this recipe.  You could do all of the above for a special, special treat.

So, without further ado, I give you my Chocolate Hazelnut Zucchini Cupcakes.  And you’re welcome.

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Chocolate Hazelnut Zucchini Cupcakes | The Paleo Mom


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners, use Silicone Muffin Cups.or bake in a silicone muffin pan.
  2. Grind hazelnuts in a Food Processor or Magic Bullet until they are super fine and almost turning into hazelnut butter..
  3. Finely grate zucchini (you could even process in a food processor).
  4. Combine ground ground hazelnuts, grated zucchini and the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl.  The batter is quite runny.  That’s okay–that’s why these cupcakes are so fudgy.
  5. As an alternative you can combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process/blend until smooth.
  6. Pour mixture into prepared muffin pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely before icing or serving. Enjoy!


Do you know how much hazelnut flour the 2 cups of hazelnuts produced? I’m excited to try this, as I have a bag of hazelnut flour stashed in my freezer.

I am very new to Paleo living and have been hankering for something desserty and delicious. Just baked this recipe and it’s absolutely delicious. I folded in a few dark choc chunks, and it’s just added a delightful amount of sweetness. Boyfriend was skeptical when I told him what I was baking.. but he took one bite and loved them. We can’t get enough of them, and they’re only just out of the oven!

Will be icing them with your whipped dark choc frosting too as soon as they’re cool… if they last that long!


Thank you Josie, your comment just nudged me over into the “can’t freaking wait to bake these cupcakes” camp…

This looks awesome but we have a tree nut allergy here (and a coconut one too!! :-(), think this would work w sunflower seeds?

My family and I loved these! I used almond flour, 1 2/3 cups, and some mini chocolate chips and they rock. I even asked my husband how the zucchini muffins were and he said he just had the chocolate ones. You can’t even tell there is zucchini in them. I used a mix of coconut sugar and organic cane sugar.

I just made this recipe. Its too raw/gooey after baking. I tried an additional 10 minutes in the oven, but its still too gooey. I was hoping for a more traditional cupcake consistency with a little fudginess. What do you recommend to thicken it up and absorb the wetness? More flour?

I placed my shredded zucchini in a paper towel-lined colander while I got the other ingredients ready. Before I added the zucchini, I squeezed as much moisture out of it as I could. You might also be able to add a touch of coconut flour (say 1Tbsp?) to the batter.

Do you think this could be made as a cake, rather than cupcakes, or would there be difficulty in getting it cooked through? My spouse’s birthday is coming up soon and we both love hazelnuts and chocolate, and also have a TON of farm-share zucchini, so this really pushes all the buttons — would love to make it a birthday cake!!

New to post here but I wanted to share an accidental discovery! I can’t find my muffin tin, so I used cupcake cups on a cookie sheet. Because they spread out within the cup while baking, they came out looking like mini cakes. So I made the ganache and made a chocolate whooping pie with these. They are perfect for whooping pies!! Way decadent

Processed sugars are not paleo. But the sweeteners that are paleo-approved are: coconut palm sugar, PURE maple syrup, agave nectar, raw unfiltered honey, and stevia 🙂

Stevia is a plant. Comes from a plant, not sure of the process, but the powder taste just like the leaves when I break them off and eat them. ??

Made these today with Almond flour and found the cocoa to be to overpowering and made them taste almost bitter. Won’t be making them again and I’ve yet to find a paleo cake I like! Might have to stick to non-baked goods I think. Thank you for sharing your recipes though, have to try these things.

I just made them exactly as the recipe stated and they were not sweet at all and bitter from the cocoa. 🙁 My family did not like them.

Is Sucanat the same as rapadura? I use rapadura as a sweetener all the time, now that we are doing Paleo and some treats call for Sucanat I guess I can still keep using it. I have a lot because every time I go visit my country Guatemala I bring bags and bags, it is way cheaper than here in the States.

I’ve made this a few times (but with carob) but have since learned one of my sons needs to be low salycalites/phenols, so I peeled the zucchini and also only had a cup of hazlenuts left so I added cashews and some baby spinach. Very comparable so still yummy!

made this cupcakes yesterday, and while they came out looking beautiful, the taste didn’t quite hold up. i ended up throwing them in the trash because nobody liked them, including myself, and i’m not a picky eater to say the least! the zucchini taste was a little overpowering for some reason, and the cupcakes were not sweet enough. even with the sweet frosting I put on top, they weren’t a crowd pleaser. glad i tried something new, and they did come out quite moist, but I won’t be making these again 🙁

(substituted muscovado sugar for coconut sugar, and tapioca starch for arrowroot starch)

I just made these for the second time. They are in the oven. Think dark chocolate when making these and remember that paleo treats are not going to be anywhere near as sweet as their conventional counterparts. Once you transition to paleo and are limiting sugar intake and not consuming processed sugar and concentrated sugars in almost everything you eat, you begin to taste the natural sweetness in different whole foods. I made these for a get together last year using ghee, they were a hit (even with the kids) and everyone at this party was standard American diet. This time around I am using palm shortening so we’ll see how they turn out. I think the ghee probably added a little extra charm to the first batch I made. I’m also not going to frost these. I *might* put a little chocolate glaze on top. I “stuffed” them with about 10 mini chocolate chips each as well.

I made these today. I used almond meal. I added only 2/3 of a cup of cocoa powder, and added 1/4 cup more of sugar due to previous comments about bitterness. I also added a cup of chocolate chips and ran it through the food processor. They came out fudgey and delicious. Perfect recipe to get zucchini into kids who “hate zucchini”. Thanks for another keeper!

These cupcakes are too die for!!! Of course I rarely follow a recipe exactly. My modifications were: 13.5 oz zucchini put in blender with the eggs (I hate grating), which should be about half the zucchini the recipe calls for. I also replaced the hazelnuts with a heaping cup of almond meal from Trader Joe’s. I am sensitive to tapioca so I swapped it for arrowroot. I thought the batter was too bitter so I added 3 more Tablespoons sugar, which ends up being 1/2 cup instead of 1/3 cup sugar. I used coconut oil instead of palm oil. Then I made a traditional cream cheese frosting using chevre goat cheese since I am OK with goat cheese on occasion. Yummy! I brought them into work so I wouldn’t eat too many 🙂

I love this recipe! Especially that the whole hazelnuts are used (no wasting time removing skin) AND using the whole zucchini (and not having to squeeze out the juice!) I made these tonight and was impressed with how well they rose. The only change I made was that I subbed 1/4 cup pure maple syrup instead of the 1/3 sucanat. Wasn’t sweet enough so I added 1/4 tsp Stevia (equivalent sweetness of one cup of sugar) and that was perfect for us. Thanks for such a fab grain-free, refined-sugar-free recipe!

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