I love summer's fresh vegetable and fruit bounty. Problem is I keep buying and buying until I have way too much in my fridge. For just 2 people, it's impossible to use it all before it goes bad. Even Debbie Meyer Green Bags can't keep produce good indefinitely. And so, a few days ago, I saw that my zucchini was not going to last much longer. I was using it in omelets for breakfast, but I needed to do something else fast. Zucchini Brownies sounded like a good idea, and there are lots of recipes for them. The one I found on
Tasteofhome.com had good ratings; I liked the easy frosting -- just mix chocolate chips with peanut butter. It sounded like a chocolate-peanut butter ganache -- yummm. It was supposed to be a cake-like brownie. So I thought, why not just make cupcakes? Of course, I made other changes to try to lower the fat content and get some more nutrients into the cupcake. I won't call these a healthful dessert because, really, isn't that an oxymoron? How can a dessert be healthful? We still need to learn to eat desserts in moderation, no matter how healthful we make them. It's going to be hard to do that with these, though. I added chocolate chips to the batter, and it really made these over-the-top good. Especially when you eat them within an hour of baking them, when the chips are melted and gooey inside. It took all my willpower to eat just one. They are really good, and not overly sweet. They're chocolatey, moist, decadent, and -- hey, where did the zucchini go? I couldn't find the taste or even the sight of it. Really, make these soon, while zucchini is plentiful and cheap.
I halved the Taste of Home recipe. The halved recipe makes 8 standard-size cupcakes, or 6 standard-sized and 1 dozen mini-cupcakes. The minis are nice to freeze -- when you get a chocolate attack, one mini should satisfy your craving. Let me know if you try these -- I'd be interested to hear what you think of them.
Zucchini Brownie Cupcakes with Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache
Rating: 9 out of 10
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, very soft
3/4 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar + 3/4 tsp. Stevia -- you could use any sugar substitute)
1 large egg
1/4 cup yogurt (I used Stonyfield Farms nonfat vanilla)
1 tsp. vanilla (I used pure vanilla extract)
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used 3/4 cup white whole wheat + 1/2 cup all-purpose)
2 Tbsp. natural cocoa + 2 Tbsp. for dusting pans (I used Hershey's)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt (I used sea salt)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup shredded zucchini (I grated it on the large holes of my box grater, gave it some more chops to get ride of the long strands, measured a heaping cupful, then laid it in paper towels, wrapped it up tightly and let it drain a few minutes.)
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 6-cup standard muffin tin and a 12-cup mini-muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and dust with cocoa powder; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and egg until light and fluffy. Beat in yogurt and vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips; gradually add to creamed mixture by hand. (A spatula works well for this.) Stir in applesauce and zucchini, being careful not to overmix.
Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each
of the standard-size muffin cups; and
about 1 heaping Tbsp. into each of the mini-muffin cups, filling each cup almost to the top. Bake mini cupcakes 14-16 minutes; standard cupcakes 21-24 minutes, or till toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs. They will continue to bake when removed from the oven. Cool in pans about 5 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on wire rack. When cooled, frost with Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache
(The easy recipe is 1/2 cup chocolate pieces and 1/3 cup national brand peanut butter, melted over double boiler and stirred together. Below is my recipe, using part natural peanut butter.)
1/2 cup chocolate pieces (Use the best quality you can afford, dark or milk)
3 Tbsp. natural peanut butter (no sugar added)
2 Tbsp. smooth or chunky national brand peanut butter (I used Skippy super chunk)
1 tsp. honey + 1 Tbsp. butter
Make a double boiler by placing a bowl over a pan of hot water. Put all ingredients into the bowl and heat on high. When ingredients melt, stir them together with a spatula till smooth and well combined. Frost cupcakes with warm ganache.
(For the chocolate, I used some Lindt milk chocolate + Nestle Chocolatier 62% cacao dark chocolate.)