Friday, July 20, 2012

Not Quite Health Food

Yes, you CAN eat your vegetables and get a chocolate fix at the same time. It still isn't exactly health food but with the right recipe it can be close (as long as you don't add icing like I did). A few days ago King Arthur Flour added its recipe to the many out there for Chocolate Zucchini Bread. It isn't often that I believe I have a better recipe than King Arthur Flour's kitchens have, but this time it's true. Thanks to amazing YA writer Tanita Davis and her friends, I have a super special chocolate zucchini bread that also has double chocolate due to the chocolate chips and is easy to jazz up with ingredients like dried or fresh cherries, dried cranberries, etc. It even makes a spectacular 'cake' to celebrate a round number birthday, which is how I used it this week. Trust me, that added fruit makes it an extra-special recipe as does the fact that it uses plain yogurt which adds tang, helps reduce the amount of oil needed and helps the bread stay moist. Recipe is below, along with an icing recipe.

The owner of Cool Fitness in Santa Rosa, an inspirational and delightful personal trainer, coach, athlete and businesswoman, reached a round number birthday a few days ago. To celebrate I brought in a 'cake' made out of chocolate zucchini bread mini-muffins which were arranged in the shape of the birthday being celebrated, then frosted and decorated. It was almost as sparkly as she is. The idea of making a 'cake' this way was borrowed. I'm pretty sure I first saw it in a book about cupcakes, but since I do surf the web, it really could have been anyplace. You can make almost any shape that way, although this was the first time I tried it. I used the version of the chocolate zucchini bread with the dried cherries. Thanks to second sister down and her family for the great Michigan dried cherries!

One of the nice things about this week was that I also had some time to do some things that had been on my list for a while. One was making a new cover for the seat of a chair in the living room. Turned out that the base had broken down, so Sweetie fashioned another from some plywood. I covered that with multiple layers of batting and then the fashion fabric cover. I found the fabric in is sort of a batik style. It has always been a chair with a stiff seat and straight back, but sometimes that is the perfect chair. Grandma L loves sitting in it. Here is how it looks:

The other thing I've been meaning to do is to play around with a borrowed SLR camera, a Canon Rebel. Very cool camera! Here is the second photo I took with it:

Not bad for a beginner, right? Pi was, as usual, right by my side keeping me company. He really is a lovely dog, even if he STILL is chasing cats.

based on a recipe by Tanita Davis & Robin Brande & Jama Rattigan

3 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs or equivalent egg substitute
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2-3 medium zucchini)
½ cup chopped nuts ( I used walnuts)
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup sweet dried cherries (preferably from Michigan), chopped into about ¼ inch dice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two 9x5" loaf pans with canola spray. Alternatively, lightly grease 24 mini-muffin pans.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. In a separate bowl, beat eggs (or egg substitute and water) with the sugar until well combined. Add oil, yogurt and vanilla. Beat to combine, then stir in zucchini. Add wet bowl to dry bowl and stir until just moistened. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips and cherries.

Spoon evenly into pans. Bake 55-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean if baking in loaf pans. If baking in mini-muffin pans, bake 15. Cool 10 minutes in pans, then turn onto racks. This bread is yummy when eaten still warm...the chips are melty and the fragrance is full chocolate!

To make a 'cake' out of the mini-cakes, line a flat serving plate or board with foil. Group the mini-cakes into a shape, then swirl on icing to join the cakes into the shape. Decorate as desired. I used the following buttercream icing:

Vanilla Easy Buttercream Icing

1/2 pound confectioners' sugar
4 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons hot milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sieve the sugar into a bowl. In another bowl beat the butter until soft and fluffy. Beat in the sugar.

In another, small, bowl mix together the hot milk and the vanilla. Add to the sugar mixture and beat until smooth. If mixture is too stiff, add a bit of hot milk. If too thin, add a bit more sugar.

Enough for 12 cupcakes or 24 mini-cupcakes.

1 comment :

  1. Did I tell you that fresh cherries had given me hives!? I have no idea what's up with that, but I'll be hopefully taking some of the cherry bounty this year and drying it - and will eat them hive free, fingers crossed!

    That chair looks SO gorgeous; I am looking forward to thrifting for old stuff, redoing it, and making a home... wherever we end up. That fabric really is quite nice.

    As are the puppy pictures. That dog = ridiculously noble looking and adorable.