Bread of the Month: Taking zucchini bread to chocolatey heights

Someone always has too much zucchini. Thankfully. Because if you have a food-loving, gardening circle of people populating your world, you can benefit from this abundance. This summer, I have been graced with others’ extra tomatoes, peaches, yellow squash, golden cherry plums and zucchini, and have not wasted a morsel.

Zucchini is so very versatile, and even here, as we move along through September, it’s still coming! So, what can you do? Make ratatouille, that heavenly meld of thinly sliced veggies layered and steamed atop a bed of tomatoey sauce; or combine thin slices of sauteed zucchini with avocados and a lemon vinaigrette in a salad beloved by the great artist, Frida Kahlo; or stuff a zucchini with a drool-inducing filling of Italian sausage and parmesan cheese….etc., mmmmmm!

Then, there’s zucchini bread. Of course! That is mandatory if you have zucchini. Regular zucchini bread, sweet and moist, sometimes graced with nuts or citrus zest, sometimes a simple thing of its own spiced with just a whiff of cinnamon, is plenty good enough. But when proposed with the possibility of a deeply double-chocolate bread, graced with extra moistness and flavor from shreds of zucchini melted within…WHY NOT?

Those crazies at King Arthur Flour are constantly sending me on some baking expedition, what with the beautiful baked goods and recipes gracing their catalogs and online feeds coming my way. When I kept seeing that tempting chocolate loaf, and knowing I had zucchini at the ready, I had to go there, and I wasn’t sorry.

This recipe’s richly flavorful batter includes honey, brown sugar, espresso and cocoa powder. The vegetable oil and zucchini lend their moistening powers; dark chocolate chips provide further richness for those needing a chocolate fix (and we all are, at some point or another).

The recipe yields one loaf — I knew I would need two (yes, I did), so I took my chances and doubled the recipe (this does not always compute, so bakers need to keep in mind it may end in a different result). The chances paid off. Beautiful deep, dark loaves emerged from the oven.

Glossy topped and moistly rich within from that zucchini that does its thing yet remains almost anonymous, this bread is like the best chocolate cake, simply sliced and ready for chocolate lovers (or soon-to-be-converts) for coffee or tea. I’m at a place where I love more homey treats, like loaves and humble cake rings, tasty and deliciously reliable.

Keep those zuchs a-comin’!

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
From King Arthur Flour (www.kingarthurflour.com)
Makes 1 loaf

2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini, gently pressed
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F; lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, honey, oil, sugar, and vanilla
until smooth.Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, espresso
powder, cocoa, and flour, mixing until well combined. Stir in the
zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the bread for 65 to 75 minutes, until the loaf tests done
(toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean,
save for perhaps a light smear of chocolate from the melted chips).

Remove the bread from the oven, and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes
before turning it out of the pan onto a rack. Cool completely
before slicing; store well-wrapped, at room temperature.

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