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Chocolate and Zucchini.

August 16, 2011

The first rule of gardening is “never turn your back on a zucchini plant”. The second rule of gardening is “when you do turn your back on a zucchini plant, never show fear at what you find waiting for you the following day”.

So, I noticed yesterday that the zucchini plants were looking pretty good with all this beautiful weather.  Lots out there for Wednesday’s CSA boxes… I picked one for dinner, and then I went my merry way.

Today, I happily harvested pole beans and cucumbers for the better part of the morning, thinking I’d get to the zucchini soon enough…. but those few hours of sunshine yesterday afternoon and this morning turned the zucchini into ZUCCHINI! It was all I could do to lug about 60 lbs out of the field just now, before I had to start making my way down to the Bread Board for our bread delivery. There’s still a LOT out there.

We fully plan to make Mari’s Zucchini Noodles (see below) tonight for dinner… but to use up even MORE of these beasts, we’re going to make a chocolate and zucchini cake! My old (Canadian) college roommate told me about this one. She was from Alberta, where zucchini grow like Iowa corn.  Every summer her mother would bake a LOT using the secret “ZED” ingredient to get the kids to eat it.  Grated zucchini solves the  problem of wretched, dry chocolate cake.

This is a cheat. I googled “chocolate and zucchini” and hit a link called “”. An ultimate pairing, it seems… so here goes! We’ll let you know how good it is…

Chocolate & Zucchini Cake

– 240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
– 60 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
– 180 grams (1 scant cup) light brown sugar (I use unrefined cane sugar)
– 115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, or 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules or 2 tablespoons strong cooled coffee — this is just to deepen the chocolate flavor, you won’t taste it in the finished product
– 3 large eggs
– 350 grams (2 cups) unpeeled grated zucchini, from about 1 1/2 medium zucchini
– 160 grams (1 cup) good-quality bittersweetchocolate chips, or chopped chocolate
– Confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Serves 12.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 25-cm (10-inch) round springform pan or a 22-cm (8 1/2-inch) square pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand in a large mixing bowl), beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the vanilla, coffee, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much.

Add the rest of the flour mixture into the egg batter. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.

Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without over mixing. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and level the surface.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen, and unclasp the sides of the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar or a chocolate glaze if desired.

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