Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
I’m a neglectful mother, at least to the fruits and vegetables in my garden of late. My poor zucchini were abandoned for a month in a tangle of tomato plants and grew into something better suited to hitting baseballs than being cooked into a tender saute. Just last week, I harvested three of them, determined to coax their firm flesh and seedy interiors into something worth eating. After some trial and error, I landed on these terrific Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins.
A Baking Experiment
That trial and error included an experiment at the suggestion of a neighbor. She who told me that overgrown zucchini can be cooked down with brown sugar and cinnamon and then mashed into a sweet compote, akin to applesauce. I dutifully cubed and cooked up 10 whole cups, excited that I was onto something BIG. Once finished, the kids and I eagerly dug in, but stopped short after one bite. “Squashsauce” was entirely inedible and found its way pretty quickly into the compost.
Zucchini Chocolate Muffin Success
Luckily, my next attempt more than made up for that first failure. The muffins are moist and tender. The chocolate comes in the form of both cocoa powder and chocolate chips. The kids loved them and they’ve been in our snack rotation for weeks. If you take a bite with your eyes closed, you’d never suspect vegetables were part of the equation (as an aside, eating chocolate with your eyes closed is highly underrated).
Serve the Muffins as a Snack or Sweet
The treats are wholesome enough to serve as an afternoon snack along with a glass of milk. Make them in a mini size for a lighter bite or smaller appetites. A full cup and a half of zucchini goes into the batter, along with whole wheat flour, yogurt, and just enough chocolate chips for good measure. You could also serve these up cupcake style, with a lighter shower of confectioners’ sugar or a smear of frosting if you’re looking for a dressier affair. You can also bake the batter in a loaf pan and drizzle it with melted chocolate.
Better than Store-Bought
Whether you consider these cupcakes or muffins, they are bound to be an improvement over store bought, particularly on the nutrition front. These weigh in at about 250 calories each (99 for the mini size), which isn’t bad, especially when you consider that a chocolate muffin from Starbucks is nearly 500 calories, the ones from Dunkin’ Donuts and Costco, top 600.
With late-season zucchini abundant in markets, now is a good time to get baking. A couple of medium zucchini will more than suffice for the recipe. And don’t worry, you needn’t scare up a neglected, overgrown one to make it, but if you’d like, I’ve got plenty to go around.
If you like these Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins, check out:
Mini Flourless Chocolate Olive Oil Cakes, a recipe I developed for Simply Recipes
Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
- 1½ cups coarsely grated zucchini
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 1 dozen regular-size muffin tins or 36 mini muffin tins with paper liners or generously grease with oil or butter. If you want to bake this in a loaf pan, generously grease a 9x5-inch pan well with oil or butter.
Put the grated zucchini in a colander set over the sink and use your hands to squeeze out some of the liquid. Leave in the sink until ready to use.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on high until foamy and light yellow, a minute or so. Add the yogurt, canola oil, sugar, and vanilla and beat again on medium until one even color and consistency, another minute. Set aside. You can also do this with a whisk and a little elbow grease.
In a medium bowl, combine the whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Stir well with a fork to blend all the ingredients.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat on medium just until evenly mixed together, scraping down the sides as needed.
Add the zucchini and chocolate chips to the batter. Mix until just combined.
For full-size cupcakes, fill each tin with a scant ¼ cup of batter. For mini cupcakes, figure about 1 ½ tablespoons of batter each (although this can vary depending on the size of your muffin tins).
Put into the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes for full-size cupcakes, closer to 20 minutes for minis, and about an hour for a loaf.
Remove from oven and leave on the counter until completely cool. Finish with a light dusting of confectioners' sugar, your favorite chocolate frosting, or 1/4 cup of melted chocolate chips (in the case of the loaf).