It's that time of year. You practically have them growing out your ears. I'm talking about zucchini. Some of them are huge. They aren't quite as good for savory cooking when they get too big. But they make a dang good killer chocolate cake! Bah--look at this!
Yep, believe it or not, there is zucchini in there! I know. I hear ya. You just would NEVER know it's there. So this means this cake is healthy, right. Well, we can pretend anyway. Sigh.
Yeah, it's not healthy. But for goodness sake, it's delicious! (Dad--it's chocolate cake!)
After buying two giant, cheap zucchini at the farmer's market last week, I went on a Google search for just what to do with them. I already shared with you my zucchini ("apple") crisp. I knew there were all kinds of quick breads and muffins out there with zucchini and I even knew there were zucchini snack cakes. But THIS cake, it's not just your run-of-the-mill "snack". This is big time dessert here. Kevin was even a little bummed that I didn't have any ice cream to serve with it. (I know, me, slacking on the ice cream making! ;)
I found this beauty on Em's blog, The Repressed Pastry Chef. I actually didn't even know she was a fellow TWD baker. (What? I can't read them all. I wish. But after finding this cake on her blog and browsing around a bit, I've added her blog to my reader.) Em found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website. I halved the recipe and baked it in an 8x8 inch baking pan. I made some minor changes, so here's the recipe as I made it, but please when you're done with me, go look at Em's!
Chocolate Zucchini Cake, adapted by Katrina from The King Arthur Flour Company and Em at The Repressed Pastry Chef (halved)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
6 1/8 ounces granulated sugar (1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk (original recipe calls for sour cream or yogurt)
1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/8 ounces Dutch-process cocoa
(optional 1 teaspoon espresso powder) I did not use it
1 cup zucchini, finely grated (middle/seeds removed)
1/2 cup (3 ounces) chocolate chips (I used 58% cacao Ghiradelli chips) (I didn't halve the chips)
3 ounces heavy cream
4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (I used the Ghiradelli chips)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with foil. Spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, oil, sugar, vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat in the egg. Scrape sides of bowl.
Stir in the buttermilk alternately with the flour. Then add the cocoa. Mix until well combined. Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
Pour and spread the batter evenly in the baking pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes (mine took 32 minutes), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack. Remove the cake from the pan using the foil edges.
Prepare the ganache by heating the cream to a simmer. (I actually used the microwave and it worked great, just do it in 20-30 second intervals and stir in between.) Pour the cream into a bowl with the chocolate chips. Let sit a minute or two. Stir the melted chocolate and cream until combined and smooth. Spread over cake evenly with an offset spatula. See how long you can wait before cutting slices of the cake and eating it. (The ganache hardens as it sits, but doggonit it's good right away! ;)
You know you want a bite. I'm not kidding, there's zucchini in there. (You would never in a million years know it, Bob!)
Now after all that, take a deep breath, it's going to be okay. Breathe. Okay. I kind of feel like these poor little muffins will take a huge back seat to that cake, BUT just keep in mind, sometimes you feel like a muffin and sometimes a little cake and the muffins really could be considered somewhat healthy and a great grab and go breakfast or perfect snack and they are also delicious if I do say so myself. You'll have to try them and give them the credit they too deserve just as much as that cake. Again, in my Googling around, I ran across this Low Fat Lemon Zucchini Bread on about.com. These muffins were inspired by that bread, but I changed many things and came up with these darn-tootin' good muffins.
Zucchini-Lemon Cranberry Walnut Muffins, by Katrina
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or could use all purpose)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon)
1/4 cup coconut oil (or any vegetable oil)
1 large egg
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup low fat buttermilk
1 cup zucchini, seeded and finely grated
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
turbinado sugar for sprinkle over top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners (this made 14 muffins).
In medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Whisk together and set aside. In another bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest, combining it together with your fingers until the sugar is moist, yellow and fragrant. (I got this idea from Dorie Greenspan and love it.) Combine the zesty sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk until well mixed with a wire whisk. Stir in zucchini. Add the dry ingredients with the wet and fold together just until moist. Fold in nuts and cranberries. Fill each muffin cup with a good sized scoop of batter. Sprinkle each with turbinado sugar. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean. Set pan on wire rack and cool for five minutes. Remove the muffins from the tin and cool to room temperature on wire rack.
There is some nutty, berry-sweet goodness hiding in there and a wonderful lemon flavor!
You've seriously got to try these. Coming soon--more zucchini! I bought two giant ones remember. These two recipes didn't even use one whole one. Did you know you can grate the zucchini and freeze it in plastic bags? It will last a couple months in the freezer. Run to your gardens, neighbor's gardens, farmer's markets, grocery stores now and stock up! You'll for sure want to make this cake and these muffins over and over again! ;)