Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Choclate Zucchini Bread

Oh how the quest continues, the search for that Holy Grail of recipes, that elusive one that promises to use up that immense zucchini you have staring at you from the big bowl in the kitchen.  It taunts you doesn’t it? Leering at you with that bright green freckled skin, taunting you with its sheer size.  How will you ever use me up before I go rotten and play havoc with your sense of frugality?  Will your husband divorce you and your children run away to grandma’s because you served them poorly hidden zucchini one too many times? Oh Mother Nature, why is the asparagus so short lived and fragile while the zucchini perseveres during droughts, hurricanes, and possibly coming of the four horsemen of the apocalypse?  She answers back with a knowing smile, much like that of the Mona Lisa: because of its versatility!
While I may not have located that singular recipe that can use 100 pounds of zucchini in a single serving I have come upon one that comes close to a more realistic expectation of a massive requirement.  Four cups! Four glorious grated cups of zucchini go into this recipe, which gives it a moist density like that of a homemade chocolate cake, but at the same time does not overwhelm the bread with veggie pungency.  I have three loaves of other zucchini breads in my freezer and for the sake of my husband’s sanity I wanted to do a chocolate version for some variety.  So I hunted the internet for one that was going to be rich, required only simple ingredients, and used lots of the green giant torpedo giving me the stink eye from the fruit bowl in my kitchen.  Enter: a post on Simply Recipes that met all my requirements and then some.  The post pointed out that this recipe is using fresh in season zucs that have lots of soaked up moisture, leading to the tasty spring of the bread. Recipe makes two loaves.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
·         4 cups grated zucchini (from about a pound and a half of zucchini)
·         2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
·         1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (use natural unsweetened cocoa, NOT Dutch processed)
·         2 teaspoons baking soda
·         1/2 teaspoon salt
·         1 teaspoon cinnamon
·         1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
·         2 eggs, or egg substitute equivalent
·         3/4 cup unsalted butter (12 Tbsp or 1 1/2 sticks), melted
·         1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
·         1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Place the freshly grated zucchini in a sieve over a bowl to catch any excess moisture as it drains. If for some reason your zucchini is on the dry side, hydrate the shredded zucchini by soaking it in water first, and then place in sieve.  Preheat oven to 350 with a rack positioned in the middle.  Grease two loaf pans with spray or butter.  Vigorously whisk together the flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk until there are no more clumps and the ingredients are well combined. In a separate large bowl, beat together the sugar and eggs until smooth, about a minute. You can do this with an electric mixer on medium speed, or by hand with a wooden spoon. Add the melted butter, instant coffee granules, and almond extract and beat until smooth.  Mix the grated zucchini into the sugar egg mixture. Add the flour to the zucchini mixture in 3 additions, stirring to combine after each addition.  Work quickly, and divide the batter between the two prepared loaf pans. (Work quickly because once the dry ingredients have mixed with the wet ingredients, the leavening has begun.) Place into the oven. Bake for 50 minutes at 350°F, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out cleanly and easily. Remove to a rack. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then run a blunt knife around the edges to separate the bread from the pan. Remove from the loaf pans and let cool completely on a rack.
The resulting bread is quite good with a bit of whipped cream cheese spread on a slice almost as a frosting.  The loaves hold together well and look pretty, each slice showing off the dark chocolaty texture.  I chopped up some little dark chocolates that I needed to finish off and tossed them into the flour mixture just to add a tiny surprise every now and then.  You could easily add nuts or fruit as well.  I think I may try it without the cinnamon next time; I am not a fan of it combined with chocolate, but that is in all things not just this recipe.  I thought I was going to have to leave out the coffee too but it really did help perk up the cocoa.  My husband gave it two thumbs up which makes me very happy since he has been taking all these baking projects to work day after day in his lunch as a snack and has not complained once.  He says his co-workers want some too!

If you have a delicious zucchini recipe we would love for you to share it with us either by email or drop us a comment with a link to it. We will gladly try it out and credit you up on the blog! I hope you have been enjoying all the wonderful fruits and veggies of the summer and trying all kinds of new recipes and cooking techniques with them as well.  Stay creative and safe this summer!

Keeping it baked,
Kelly, the origami ninja


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