Since I waited one day too many to collect a ripening zuke off my two - count 'em: two - zuke bushes*, one zuke went from 10 oz to 24 oz in one night. Or maybe it was two nights, but it was fast. What are you going to do with such a big honker? Well, you could stuff it and grill it, but note the title of the post: Chocolate Zucchini Bread. That means I was planning on baking it.
First, however, I needed a recipe. I had an old one I had used in years past, but the last time I made it I didn't like it as well. Something about all of that vegetable oil just didn't strike me as appealing. Instead, I turned to the Big Book o' Food (Cook' Illustrated The Best New Recipe Cookbook) and modified their recipe for a fantastic and simple zucchini bread. Theirs, you see, didn't involve chocolate at all.
Something about being purists, they wanted the focus on the zukes. Meh.
Don't get me wrong, I've made that recipe and it's wonderful (No, really!), but I wanted to try my hand at turning it into a chocolate recipe while still keeping it yummy. So that instead of this:
Ready? Here we go!
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
1 3/4 c (8.75 oz) all purpose flour
1 lb zucchini, ends and stems removed (cut in half lengthwise, scrape out seeds with a spoon if you're using a mondo zuke)
3/4 c + 1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c plain yogurt (I used sort of a "rounded" 1/4 measure to get a little extra in there since I was going to lose the 1 tbsp liquid from the lemon juice in the original recipe. I know, it's not a scientific measure. Fake it.)
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz chopped good quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (or chips, if that's your thing)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 c Dutch processed cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees with an oven rack in the middle position. Grease and flour a 9x5 loaf pan.
- Break out your food processor (If you don't have one, you can grate the zuke by hand with a box grater and toss it with the 2 tbsp of sugar.), cut the zuke to pieces that will fit in your feed tube and process zuke with 2 tbsp of sugar until the zuke is coarsely shredded. (They used the metal blade, I used the shredder blade. If using the normal metal blade, cut the zuke into 1" sections and pulse in 15 second bursts.) Transfer the mix to a strainer set over a bowl and drain zuke for 30 minutes. (Make sure the bowl isn't so shallow that the zuke isn't draining but is instead soaking in its own juices. Not the same thing, at all! Drainage! We want drainage to get rid of the excess moisture in the zuke or you're going to have squishy bread. You don't want squishy bread, do you?)
- You can add nuts to this, if you'd like. I skipped it since Logan doesn't seem to like them, while Emma does. This is the point where you would toast either 1/2 c of coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts until fragrant and then allow to cool.
- Melt your 6 tbsp of butter and add 1/4 c of cocoa. Stir until combined and set aside to cool. (Here we're letting the butter "bloom" the flavor of the chocolate powder. Yeah, I've been reading too many recipes, but see? I learned something!)
- In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and chopped chocolate.
- Whisk together remaining 1/2 c plus 3 tbsp sugar, yogurt, eggs, vanilla and melted butter mixture.
- After the zucchini has drained (Isn't that cool? There's almost 1/2 c of green liquid in that bowl! You could probably drink it....), squeeze the zucchini with several layers of paper towels or a clean tea towel to remove excess moisture. (Mmmm! Squishy!) Stir the zuke and the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened. Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and smooth the surface with your spatula.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55-60 minutes, rotating your pan halfway through the baking time. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing. You want to give the bread a chance to firm up, here. Trust me, it's worth the wait.
Give it a whirl and tell me what you think! In case you're wondering, the twins (and Eric and I), love it. Yum!
* Never ever ever plant more than 2 zucchini bushes unless you either a) have a very large family that likes zucchini or b) plan on feeding it to your neighborhood or c) run a farm.
Trust me on this. Zukes are possibly the easiest plant to grow in the vegetable garden and one of the fastest and most prolific. Note that I put the zukes in the ground at the same time as the tomatoes, winter squash and green beans, but I've been eating zukes for weeks and haven't had a single tomato, green bean or winter squash. Yet.
All in good time, my pretties!