Sunday, September 9, 2012

Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Bread

A few days ago, I learned that I’ve lived in Texas long enough to think of myself, officially, as a Texan.  How do I know this?  Simple.  When the weather forecast showed daytime high temperatures below 95 degrees and overnight temperatures (occasionally, at least) below 70 degrees, my immediate thought was “Finally, some cooler weather!”  This is what passes for an autumn chill, in the San Antonio area, and I’ve come to embrace this very subtle change of seasons.

Another thing I’ve learned to love while living here is the combination of chocolate and warm spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg, particularly in the autumn months.  Try anything called “Mexican chocolate” and that’s what you’ll taste:  chocolate and spice.  The only thing that keeps me from calling this recipe Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Bread is the presence of Chinese 5-Spice Powder in the recipe.  It seemed a little silly to call something Mexican when it featured a spice blend from another culture altogether, even though Mexican chocolate is what inspired the recipe in the first place.

Chinese 5-Spice Powder is a blend of star anise, cinnamon, clove, fennel, and pepper.  It’s just delicious.  I found mine at World Market, though I’ve seen it at my local grocery store as well, so I don’t think you’ll find it difficult to locate.   If you can’t find it, the cinnamon alone will give you a nice flavor in combination with the chocolate, but the 5-spice blend adds a little kick.

The best thing about this recipe is that it makes use of our prolific late-summer friend, the zucchini.  After you’ve grated yours, be sure to wrap it in a double thickness of paper towels and squeeze out some of the moisture; otherwise, your bread might collapse in the center while it’s baking, due to the high moisture content of the batter.  While some recipes advise you to peel the zucchini before grating it, I just don’t see the point–and, as my mom would say, the skin’s where the good stuff is.  So I leave my zucchini intact, but that’s your call.

As with all baked goods, I made mine with a gluten-free flour blend.  The recipe from which this one is adapted (a basic recipe for chocolate zucchini bread I found in The American Country Inn and Bed &Breakfast Cookbook–one of the very few cookbooks I still consult on a regular basis) calls for all-purpose flour, so you’ll be fine if you go that direction instead.  If you’re a serious chocolate lover, you could also add some chocolate chips; I’ve done that in the past, but I didn’t have any on hand this time.

This is a large recipe that yields two loaves–one to eat right away, and one to freeze for later.  I’m trying to believe it won’t be too long before there’s an actual chill in the air while I’m enjoying a breakfast of spicy chocolate goodness.

Print

Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. Chinese 5-Spice Powder
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini, squeezed dry
1/2 cup milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat two loaf pans with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients. Set aside. In a separate bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar; add the eggs, one at a time, stirring to combine. Add the vanilla extract and zucchini; stir until the zucchini is incorporated into the mixture.

Add the dry ingredients about half a cup at a time, stirring just until moistened. Spread the batter into the prepared loaf pans and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until a knife inserted at the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Adapted from a recipe in The American Country Inn and Bed & Breakfast Cookbook

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