Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Chocolate and Veggies Together Again

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are not a new concept. I've made them, I've loved them, I've devoured them. Who knew something so healthy could taste so scrumptious? I've been baking breakfast treats on a regular basis in attempts to give Emily something different each day, but you can only make so many muffins, breads and breakfast cakes with fruits and berries before even a one year old gets bored. Besides, I wanted to give her something extra healthy (is that possible?) as she is only one and shouldn't be relying on baked goods for breakfast. That's not all she's eating, by the way, before you start having heart attacks at your computers. She gets at least one fruit by itself every morning.

Anyway, the last time we stopped in at our local mom and pop store, they had a large selection of zucchini, and I thought to myself, why not introduce her to veggies in baked yummies! Immediately, Zucchini and Carrot muffins were put on the menu in my mind. And then, I forgot the carrots. Yup. You can't really have Z&C muffins without the carrots. As luck would have it, I was cleaning out my freezer and found... no, not carrots, but some roasted butternut squash. Could it work? I asked myself. I've baked with acorn and pumpkin, but never butternut. So, throwing caution to the wind, I defrosted that bag of squash, broke out the mixer and let my freak flag fly! *ok, maybe i'm getting a little carried away, but it's what I do*

So, after doing a little bit of research for recipes involving squash, I combined a few and added my own ideas and came up with this...

This is where all of my recipes begin. It makes it much easier to make adjustments while baking. So, with recipe in hand (well, on the board), I got started. The first thing I did was to microwave defrost my squash, because it was simply taking too long in the fridge. I then proceeded to mash it up a little bit with a spoon, but since you're going to throw it in the mixer, as long as it's fully roasted and thawed, that wasn't really necessary. It was more of an - are you completely defrosted - measure. I then grated my zucchini. I like to fine grate it when using it in baking. It gives a smoother texture to the finished product. 

It comes out looking a bit like this.

I know this looks like a lot more than one cup of zucchini, but we're not quite done with  it yet. Now, some people will let it sit in a strainer for a while to get rid of the excess water. Some will blot it with a paper towel. I, however, like the squeeze it. It could be because i'm impatient, or it could be from all those times I made coleslaw with my grandmother. Her recipe called to soak the cabbage in salt water and then squeeze out all the excess water before proceeding. No matter the reason, we shall squeeze. I squeeze it a little bit at a time, placing the finished product in a bowl. When it's finished, it looks like a lot less zucchini and will actually yield about one cup. 

Now, we can venture on to mixing everything together. I start with the sugars, honey, vanilla and eggs for a nice smooth base. Mix those well, so the sugars incorporate, then add your squash and zucchini. I let these mix for about 2 minutes on medium speed (4 on my kitchen aid) so it was well mixed, then lowered the bowl, scraped it and the paddle (the zucchini gets a little wrapped around), and continued on. I added the cocoa directly to the mixer, but combined the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a different bowl before gradually adding it to the wet mix, scraping down the bowl as I went. Finally, I folded in the chocolate chips by hand. I greased my 12 silicone muffin cups and filled each using my quarter cup measuring cup. 

I put them in the oven and set the time for 18 minutes because the batter was a little runnier than expected. Lo and behold, they needed another 10 minutes before the toothpick came out clean. Unfortunately, they came out pretty dense and tasted a little too much like squash for a muffin. I'm thinking next time I will add some cinnamon or allspice in hopes of covering up some of that squashy flavor. Now that I've tried once, I have to get it right!

We're going to eat them. They're not that bad, but I wouldn't recommend them for company.

Final Recipe:

1/3 c white sugar
2 1/2T brown sugar
2T honey
1 c squash, roasted
1 c zucchini, shredded
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4c flour minus 1 T
1T cornstarch
1/4c Cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 c chocolate chips

Combine sugar, brown sugar, honey, eggs and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Add squash and zucchini. Mix well. Add cocoa. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, baking powder. Gradually add to we mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes