Zucchini and decadence may seem incongruous but this recipe elevates this common and often dull vegetable to the level of sheer delight and deliciousness. As in all recipes, using high quality ingredients makes a huge difference in the outcome. Remember the old saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” This was a phrase first coined in reference to computer data entry but it applies equally to the success of all recipes. In the case of today’s feature it is all about the freshest zucchini, high-grade chocolates, vanilla, cinnamon and salts. It may seem that individually they shouldn’t matter that much but I learned from an excellent and well-respected chef that you need to think of the cumulative effect of all of the ingredients working together. The higher the quality the better result. A good rule of thumb for all cooking, but it especially applies to the chocolate in this preparation. There is so much chocolate on the market today. When choosing, beware of those products labeled chocolate-flavored or artificially flavored chocolate as they are not for real and can contain up to 50% sugar and an array of other ingredients. A good quality chocolate should be 65-70% cacao or above. It is said chocolate of this caliber is healthy for you so we don’t have to feel guilty, right? For more information check out, The Nibble.
I bake very little as my palate leans to the savory much more than to the sweet but given the seasonal abundance and low impact on your budget, zucchini seems to be the vegetable of the day. I love the challenge of transforming it into dessert. I think once you try this recipe topped with just a bit of flaked sea salt, you will never think of zucchini the same again.
Here is how it went down:
DOUBLE CHOCOLATE SALTED ZUCCHINI CAKES
Makes 24 cupcakes
Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis
½ c unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
¾ c granulated sugar
½ c grape seed or other neutral cooking oil
2 large eggs
1t pure vanilla extract (good quality)
½ c buttermilk
2 ½ c all-purpose flour
4T cocoa powder (I use Valrhona unsweetened cocoa powder)
1t baking soda
½ t cinnamon (I use Vietnamese from Penzy spices)
½ t sea salt
2c grated zucchini, drained
12 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ c toasted pecans, chopped
Flaked sea salt (such as Maldon) for sprinkling on top
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or 325 degrees for convection oven). Grease and flour two cupcake pans or use parchment cupcake liners.
- Place grated zucchini is a strainer with a plate to weigh it down. Allow to drain for 15-30 minutes.
- Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy and light.
- Add the oil, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk. Mix well.
- In a small bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add to the wet ingredients and mix well. Do not overwork.
- Fold in the zucchini.
- With a large ice cream scoop or a ¼ c measuring cup, fill the cupcake pans.
- Top each with the toasted pecans and the chocolate chips.
- Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes (that is what it took using convection) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes clean. Baking time may vary depending on your oven.
- Allow to cool on racks for a 10 minutes and then sprinkle each with a little of the flaked sea salt. Continue cooling.
NOTE: If you wish, you can bake in a 9×13 baking pan. Baking time may have to be adjusted.
I have shared this week’s featured creation and now I must advance to the final chapter of “the kitchen remodel.” I am delighted to report that the stove (a induction range with convection ovens) is fully installed and functioning! Very exciting and a huge relief. We spent the week cleaning up and moving things back to their intended homes. As of today, we are finished! Pots and pans in their place, spices all lined up, utensils positioned and ready, I have begun planning my dedication dinner which I hope will be the subject of my next post. I did make a couple of dishes this week as I learned the ins and outs of the new equipment. What was the first you ask? As soon as the installers left I made eggs for breakfast. Just had to try it out.
The oven was christened with the baking of the Double Chocolate Salted Zucchini Cakes which I was thrilled to be making.
I hope they will make an appearance in your kitchen soon as you continue to spread the love, one dish at a time. Thanks for tolerating all the dust and chaos of my kitchen makeover. From my new digs to yours, I send my love. Jeanne