I had managed to totally avoid zucchinis all summer, not purchasing any and not growing any, but as we left church this Sunday, I noticed a large basket of even larger zucchini by the door, left like foundling children. On a stupid whim, I picked one up and started thinking about zucchini bread, and that having zucchini bread at least once this summer would be nice, though as I later stood mulling over the enormous green vegetable/thing in the kitchen, various oily, sugary recipes for zucchini bread came to mind, and I decided to try something a bit easier on my thighs. After looking through 15 old issues of Chocolatier Magazine, I found a promising recipe for Cocoa Muffins. Made with cocoa, buttermilk, and a small amount of oil, they sounded quite tasty, and I was sure I could sneak–no! not sneak–boldly add some zucchini to the muffin to good effect. The presence of buttermilk in the recipe was a good sign, as buttermilk reliably tenderizes and fluffs cakes and muffins. I assembled my ingredients, washed the zucchini, and set out to cut it up. To make a long, sweaty story short, I discovered I would need a titanium drill to breach the hull of the zucchini, and that once I finally had hacked it apart, was greeted by dry pith. So it was a bit past its prime. Time for Plan B! Having studiously avoided zucchini-growing neighbors for weeks, I was forced to go to the store and buy a zucchini, and I was then able to make Cocoa Zucchini Muffins, which are delish. They are like soft cocoa-y pillows streaked with interesting moist green shards of zucchini. You could drizzle a glaze over these muffins, but I have here left them plain and portable so they are ready to be thrown into lunch bags. A nice addition, though, would be half a cup of chocolate mini chips.
Cocoa Zucchini Muffins
Makes 12 muffins.1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 2/3 cup sugar 1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1-1/4 cups buttermilk 1/4 cup oil 1 egg 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 cup grated zucchini, skin left on
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and have ready a 12-cup cupcake pan lined with paper baking cups.
In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. In a two-cup measuring cup, measure the buttermilk, add the oil, the egg, and vanilla. Mix this with a fork until smooth. Pile the grated zucchini onto a clean dishtowel, draw the towel around the zucchini, and squeeze out any moisture. Add the buttermilk mixture and the squeezed, grated zucchini to the dry ingredients and stir just until mixed. Spoon into the paper baking cups. You can pile the batter into each cup, as it will rise and not spill over.
Bake for about 20 minutes. Press the very top of the muffin–it will be firm and springy when are done.
Note: The original recipe called for two eggs whites instead of one whole egg, and these can be used if you want even lower-fat muffins.