Nannie (my grandmother) made the most wonderful chocolate zucchini loaf. Sort of a bread, sort of a cake, it’s the perfect afternoon snack. I love the unlikely combination of chocolate and zucchini, and the hint of cinnamon and cloves here makes this recipe so very comforting. And given that the season for overflowing kitchen gardens is almost upon us, I decided to share this decadent recipe with the Dedham Transcript for the June “Cozy, Delicious” article – which you can read here.
As a kid, I could devour slice after big, thick slice of this rich, fragrant quick bread. But as an adult I have come to realize that one thin slice carries with it more than enough butter and sugar for an afternoon snack. I’ve always thought that a bread chock full of bright and healthy summer squash should be healthy. And more than once I’ve convinced myself that since it contains veggies, I can have just one more morsel. But the reality is that Nannie’s recipe, despite it’s reliance on diced zucchini, shows her generation’s characteristic adoration of butter.
So while I have a nostalgic connection to the original version, I couldn’t resist tinkering a bit with Nannie’s recipe. And with some whole wheat flour and a bit of apple sauce, I managed to up the fiber content and reduce the fat and sugar. And the best part is that the flavor is right on. The texture may be ever so slightly less luxurious, but I actually have enjoyed this healthier chocolate zucchini bread all the more for its heartiness. It makes a wonderful breakfast, and even works great as a muffin instead of a loaf (just be sure to reduce the baking time if you choose to make muffins – about 25-30 minutes will do).
Healthier Chocolate Zucchini Loaf
Makes 2 loaves or 18 muffins
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple sauce
4 egg whites
½ cup fat-free buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 large)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, divided (optional)
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate or mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, oil and sugar. Beat in the applesauce, egg, egg whites, buttermilk and vanilla. Sift together the flours, cinnamon, cloves, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt (Nannie was big on sifting – don’t skip this step). Add the flour mixture to the buttermilk mixture and beat just to combine. Fold in the zucchini and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, if using. Spread the batter into two greased loaf pans. Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with the remaining walnuts and the chocolate. Bake for 55-60 minutes. Cool completely before slicing and serving.