I have a confession. I’m a bit of a health nut.
Cue the boos and disgruntled groans.
I know what you are thinking. How can you run a blog with recipes like that insane chocolate and peanut butter cake and those black-bottom cupcakes? In my defense, those treats were made, savored, tasted, and shipped off to the land of the co-workers.
Living in California, surrounded by all this fresh produce and “clean” air, it’s hard not to get sucked in to all the healthy propaganda that fills our airwaves… I call it propaganda because sometimes, it feels like the businesses and government are selling you an idea that doesn’t necessarily benefit you. If anything, it benefits them and their pocketbooks… But that’s a whole other post that could go on for DAYS…
Like I was saying, I can be a health freak. I’d say 80% of the time, I am that token California girl. I exercise every day, eat my veggies, do my yoga, and get my 8 hours of sleep (if I’m lucky.) It all started back in high school To say I was a little lazy would be an understatement. My idea of exercise was walking the 5 minutes from campus to my house. Seriously. And my idea of fun was watching Daytime Soaps with a pint of ice cream during summer.
4 years later, I have discovered the benefits of taking care of myself, not to mention the benefits of actually liking how I look and feel when I’m healthy. For instance, who knew exercising could release all those wonderful endorphins?! Had a bad day at work? Go run it off. It’s the closest thing to free therapy, I think.
When I decided to buy my next baking book, I wanted to jazz it up. Somehow, I thought, I need to incorporate my healthy lifestyle in to my baking tendencies. Let’s be frank, all those cookies and pies are yummy but it’s time to balance it out a little. I’ve been fascinated of Celine’s blog, Have Cake Will Travel, for quite some time and love how she experiments with different flours and grains. It’s like Willy Wonka’s factory minus the blueberry girl and chocolate fountain… and creepy old man.
When King Arthur’s Whole Grain baking book arrived on my doorstep, I was so happy. All those new recipes, all those new ingredients! I’ve never baked with whole wheat flour, mainly because I feel that if you are gonna bake, you better bake it right.
But I take it all back, all my previous prejudices. This book is fantastic! Full of cakes, muffins, breads, and pies, you can really spend months and months tackling new recipes. I like the variety and the simple directions too. Plus, if you are interested in learning the baking properties that whole grain flours like me, this book will steer you in the right direction.
The first recipe from this book that I’m going to share with you is this scrumptious Chocolate Zucchini Cake. Baking with veggies is not a new theme but who knew it could be tasty AND healthy?! Moist and rich with chocolate flavor, it’s a delicious treat minus all the guilt. Plus, if you are like me and can only have one slice a day, you’ll appreciate how long the cake lasts.
Day 1: yummy. Day 2: even better. Day 3: still good. Day 4: how can this be moist still?! Day 5: this must be a miracle. Go ahead and put that farmer’s market produce to good use.
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
adapted from King Arthur’s Grain book
2 1/2 cups traditional whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened, or vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (about 1 pound) shredded or chopped zucchini (2 small zucchinis)
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips
2 teaspoons corn syrup
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and the pan or pans of your choice. To make the cake: Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Stir together the sugars and butter (or oil) in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add half the dry ingredients, stirring until evenly moistened. Stir in the zucchini, then the remaining flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes. If you have used a tube pan, lightly loosen the cake around the edges and center tube by pulling it gently away from the pan with your fingers or a running a thin, flexible spatula down the sides, then put the rack on top of the pan and flip everything over. Remove the pan and cool the cake completely. If you’ve used a 9 x 13-inch pan, you can either serve it from the pan or invert the cake onto a serving platter and drizzle with chocolate glaze, if desired.
To make the glaze (if using): Heat the heavy cream to a simmer, and pour over the chocolate chips in a bowl. Stir in the corn syrup, and keep stirring until there are no more lumps and the mixture is smooth. Drizzle over the cooled cake, if desired. Variation: Instead of a chocolate glaze, sprinkle confectioners’ sugar over the cooled cake.