Friday, 19 September 2014

Recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Loaf

When looking for zucchinis at the market, you can
sometimes find them hidden amongst the squash,
like the yellow ones here at Riverbend Gardens' stall.
People are often intimidated when it comes to baking, preferring to buy their baking from the grocery store where it often tastes very bland or is loaded with fat and sugar in an attempt to improve its shelf life. There really is nothing like baking at home... not only does the end result taste fantastic, but it makes your house smell divine! And a loaf is the best way to start your adventure into home baking... other than burning it or undercooking it, there's really nothing you can do to mess it up! There's no careful mixing, no delicate icing, to artistic and creative flair needed to turn out a delicious result each and every time.

Zucchinis come in different colours from a yellow to an
orange, along with the traditional deep green
Our recipe today comes from Tammy, one of our Info Tent volunteers who comes to market every week. She brought some of this delicious Chocolate Zucchini loaf to market a couple of weeks ago and we all loved it! Now she is sharing the recipe with you all. It is a deep, dark brown colour from the cocoa powder in the recipe that mingles with all of the ingredients, giving a chocolate flavour to each and every bite.

a healthy diet is a varied diet 
It is one that includes a lot of vegetables, limits fat and sugar, and watches portion size. There is always room for a treat in a healthy, balanced diet... and a slice of this zucchini chocolate loaf fits the bill!

Sometimes zucchinis are massive!
That's when you use them in baking.
One thing to note in Tammy's recipe is that she has used mini chocolate chips. I've always preferred using mini chips because they go farther in your baking, spreading out chocolate chunks throughout and giving the impression that your recipe, be it cookies or brownies, loaves or an ice-cream topping, making your dessert seem far more chocolately than it actually is. Tammy suggests substituting unsweetened cocoa powder for the chocolate chips. That simple substitution cuts down both the sugar and the fat in this recipe, making it healthier, and not adversely affecting the flavour.

This loaf freezes well... and that is one way to avoid temptation... slice it up, package it in small portions so that you freeze it in small batches, and you won't be tempted to devour it in one sitting!

One thing that we do at our house is pour the batter into mini loaf tins: like rectangular muffin tins, there are six to a pan. These freeze well and can be sliced for small treats. Top each slice with peanut butter, maple butter or your favourite nut butter and they are a healthy snack or a wonderful breakfast start to the day! You need to cut the baking time down significantly (by a little less than half) if you use mini loaf tins... to about 35-40 minutes.


Technically a summer squash, zucchini is prized for its versatility in cooking. It's mild flavours adapt well to mediterranean cuisine, work with any tomato based dish.. and add moisture and texture to sweet baking! They can even be eaten raw, and are delicious dipped in some of Louie's Tzatziki (at Theo's Greek Kouzina).

when selecting a zucchini at the market, look for smooth skinned, firm flesh with no blemishes or soft spots. They will keep at least a week on the refrigerator shelf.

This is an amazingly versatile veggie. Picked young, it is delicious grilled or stir fried. When it grows quite large, which it does with amazing speed in a summer garden, it is best used for baking. You can eat the skin, as it is soft... so simply wash off the zucchini, trim off the blossom end, and grate it, skin and all, into this recipe.
When they get really huge, like this zucchini
that I used making the recipe for the blog
today, you might need to scoop out the
seeds before grating.

good for the eyes! Zucchinis are high in heart-healthy potassium, along with vitamin A, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids that protect eyes against macular degeneration and other vision problems. Another great thing about summer squashes like zucchini is that they have a very high water content... so they are a "high volume" food that is excellent to eat when you are trying to shed a few pounds because they are both filling and low in calories.

how to cook a zucchini
Pete Luckett, of The Greengrocer's Kitchen says, The best way to cook a zucchini is quickly, and with as little liquid as possible. Slice zucchini in rounds or strips, or leave very small ones whole.Steamed lightly or sautéed in butter, zucchini makes a delicious side dish, needing nothing more than a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Larger zucchini can be sliced thickly, brushed with olive oil, seasoned, and thrown on the grill.

Chocolate zucchini loaf 
Zucchini plants have a way of multiplying. When your garden overflows, try this new chocolatey twist on the usual bread. This recipe makes 1 loaf (12 slices). It takes 15 minutes to prep and 60-65 minutes to bake in a 350F oven.
Made into little loaves, sliced, then topped with peanut butter
or, better yet, maple butter from Grand Maple Farm at the
market, and you have a delicious snack.
1¾ cups all purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½tsp salt
2 eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil***
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup coarsely grated zucchini (about 3½ ounces)
½ cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips***
confectioners' sugar (icing sugar) for dusting

*** this can be made healthier still by reducing the oil to 1/4c  and adding back in 1/2c of plain, no fat yogurt or unsweetened applesauce for the moisture
*** you can substitute cocoa powder for the cholocate chips if you are trying to decrease the fat & sugar in this recipe, but using MINI chocolate chips makes them go farther in this recipe, spreading throughout and making it seem far more chocolatey than it actually is.

1. Heat oven to 350F. Coat a 3½ x 4½ x 3" loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Sift together the flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.
3. Beat the eggs, oil and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl until well combined. Stir in the zucchini.
4. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until moistened and a stiff batter just comes together. Do not over mix.
5. Fold in the chocolate chips or cocoa.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
7. Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 60-65 minutes or until a wooden pick, inserted in the centre of the loaf, comes out clean.
8. Turn out onto a rack to cool completely. Before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar.

where can you find ingredients at our market?
  • The PlotDargatz Family FarmRiverbend Gardens  and the Holden Colony, have zucchini each year, but it is getting to be the end of the season, so you might have to search around a bit.
  • Maple butter can be found at Grand Maple Farm along with maple syrups and maple candies.
  • Theo's Greek Kouzina carries delicious tzatziki and red pepper dips that work well with zucchini finger slices.
Recipe from Tamara Senger, SWEFM Volunteer
Adapted from Family Circle: Best-Ever Cakes & Cookies Cookbook, p. 144
Nutritional Information from The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, by Jonny Bowden and The Greengrocer's Kitchen, by Pete Luckett
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Contributed by Sheri Hendsbee

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