So while I was engaged the other day in what appears to be my new pastime -- flipping through food- and cooking-related catalogs for recipes because purveyors have gotten wise and realized that the way to make me look at the exact same wares in issue after issue is to pepper those pages with recipes -- I was pleased to discover a vegetable-baked good that looked delicious: chocolate zucchini muffins from the Penzey's catalog. (Penzey's is fabulous at this new catalog strategy, by the way. Their catalogs are chock full of recipes -- good-looking recipes for sweet and savory dishes alike -- that spur me to consider every page.) I immediately ripped out the recipe and got myself to the store. As I was picking out the zucchini in the produce section Husband asked me what they were for, most likely expecting me to answer with something healthier than "chocolate muffins." For the record, my answer -- to most questions -- is "chocolate muffins."
And what a good use of fresh veggies these muffins are. They give off the most pleasing, rich cocoa aroma and they're so ridiculously moist and studded with chocolate chips, it's like, where did the zucchini even go? Ah, but it's in there...flexing its little vegetable muscle to cut all that chocolate with a slightly pungent (in a good way!) note. In addition to making my taste buds happy, these muffins also made me rather selfish: I thought about bringing some of them to work, but then decided that I didn't really need to share, after all.
I get like that about my vegetable-baked goods. Hands off, people.
CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI MUFFINS
Adapted from the Penzeys catalog
1/2 c. milk
1/4 t. white vinegar
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. safflower (or vegetable) oil
1 3/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs
2 t. vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon (Ceylon, if you have it)
1/2 t. kosher salt
2 c. zucchini, peeled and finely grated (about 3 small zucchini)
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 c. pecans or walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 standard muffins tins with papers.
In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the milk and vinegar and set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, oil and sugar until creamy. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and milk/vinegar mixture. Blend well.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. (It's important to sift to remove and lumps from the cocoa powder.) Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and stir by hand, using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, to combine. Add the grated zucchini and 1/2 c. of the chocolate chips and stir well.
Using a spring-loaded ice-cream scoop, dish the batter evenly into the pans, filling each paper about 2/3 full. Sprinkle the muffins with the rest of the chocolate chips and the pecans/walnuts.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, then, consume!
Makes 24 muffins.