The first thing you should know is that I am not, generally, a person who believes in hiding vegetables in other, more “palatable” foods to get children (or husbands) to eat them. I admit I might sing a different tune if I had kids who truly would not eat any green thing, but my kids have been, even in their pickiest stages, still at least happy to eat things like carrot sticks and tomatoes and cucumbers. I have always figured between that, fruit, and a multi-vitamin, they will be okay until their palates naturally grow to appreciate more challenging veggies.
So the recipe I’m about to offer has less to do with subterfuge than it does with my love of surprising combinations of ingredients. But I’d be lying if I wasn’t also hoping that covering zucchini in chocolate might also entice my husband to actually eat it.
Recipe #4: Double Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Before I continue, I do want to go on record as saying that most of the recipes I put forth here that have to do with cooking are my own. I may look around (online and in cookbooks) for inspiration, but I’m not (so far, anyway) replicating anything wholesale.
Baking, though, is kind of a different story because I am just not comfy enough with chemistry to be able to know how much of an ingredient another ingredient needs in order to work. So I’ve looked at a bunch of recipes for zucchini bread and chocolate zucchini bread, and made some small tweaks and additions to come up with what I’m offering here.
Makes 2 small loaves
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 1/2 small ones)
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark* because I wanted a very rich, dark chocolate bread. You can use regular cocoa, too, just be sure it’s unsweetened baking cocoa, not the stuff you would use to make hot chocolate!)
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. canola oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
* Oh, Chemistry. I almost failed it in high school, you should know. But I just now realized that somewhere along the way, I learned that the very dark cocoa that I have just suggested you use, is made by a process called “dutching” in which the cocoa solids are soaked in an alkaline solution before pulverizing in order to reduce acidity. And I recall now that you are not supposed to be able to use dutch process cocoa in recipes that use baking soda, which relies on the acid content in regular cocoa, for leavening. This recipe uses both baking soda and powder, and the bread rose just fine.(See pics below.) Maybe the presence of baking powder as well made this work? Anyone with a better science brain than I is welcome, encouraged, even, to weigh in here. Alton Brown, where are you?
Okay, back to the bread.
Peel and shred the zukes. Cheese grater to the rescue, but you could also use a food processor.
The batter will be gorgeous, glossy, pretty tacky, near-black in color. Add in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Stir to combine.
Grease and flour a small loaf pan or two if you have them available, (otherwise you’ll have to cook these one at a time like I did) and pour batter in. It should be about 3/4 full.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for five minutes before removing to a rack and letting cool completely.
I thought this was very good, though there are some things I would like to change. Namely, I would add more chocolate chips next time and possibly even some applesauce or more zucchini for extra moisture, as it was just a tad drier than I would have liked. It already has a cup of oil in it, so don’t think the addition of applesauce means I’m advocating for a low-fat excursion here. I’m not, though you can if you want to. I won’t judge.
I’m also thinking of trying it with olive oil next time because I bet the flavor would marry well (or at least interestingly) with the dark chocolate. I like pretty assertive flavors, so.
My kids both liked this. My husband took a bite and proclaimed it “okay,” whilst grimacing. But I don’t trust him and neither should you. He is too far gone and ain’t never, it seems, coming back to this elegant summer veggie delight.
I dare you to detect any zucchini in there! So, if you’re bent on hiding some veggies, this is the place to do it. Otherwise, I’m calling this a perfect afternoon pick-me-up with a strong cup of coffee.
Have you been forced to practice Vegetable Subterfuge? What’s the most unlikely way you’ve enjoyed eating your veggies?