Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Fellow chocoholics (or carboholics, or perhaps even zucchiniholics), allow us the opportunity to provide a bit of advice…

When you hit the recipe jackpot and manage to perfectly blend health with flavor, do not, do NOT eat all of said recipe in one day. No matter how delicious, mouth watering or ooey-gooey the results may appear…

Want a slice? Good, because that’s all you’re getting.

…it only ends up bad for everyone in the end. Mainly because there’s none left for the next day.

This of course is all hypothetical advice (of course). All I’m saying is this bread is pretty stinkin’ good. So good that I had to actually notify Ben that it was a “healthy.” Usually he tastes it right off the bat.

So if you succumb to temptation and eat the whole thing, at least feel a little better knowing that you got a couple of servings of veggies in. And dairy. And fruit. With no added oil.  Jack. Pot.

That’s our advice.

Yield: 1 Nine-Inch Loaf

Ease of Preparation: Easy

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup stevia
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) plain yogurt (your choice on the fat content…I use LF)
  • 3 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Spread grated zucchini over a layer of paper towels (appx. 2 paper towels long and 2 paper towels thick). Place another layer of paper towels on top and press down so that the towels begin to absorb the moisture from the zucchini. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. This prevents the dough from having too much moisture.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease sides and line bottom of a 9 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat stevia, applesauce, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Add yogurt and mix to combine.

Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Mix in zucchini, then fold in chocolate chips.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean (don’t mistake melted chocolate chips for undercooked dough).

Allow loaf to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to completely cool on wire rack before serving. I know it’s tempting, but it really is best at room temperature!

Obviously I couldn’t wait until after the photo shoot to taste
Advertisements

Whole Wheat Tortillas

And so the trend continues. I promise I make other things besides Mexican fare, but you know, if you’ve got a good thing going on, “don’t muck it up” (many thanks to POTUS for this useful one-liner). We recently had a taco night party in our apartment building, and I volunteered to bring the tortillas. Now, you actually can find tortillas in the GZ, but at roughly $5 a pack, I was a little hesitant to buy a party size batch of what really is just flour, oil and water. I had previously made tortillas, and Ben thought they turned out really well. So with my lone food critic giving two thumbs up, I decided to hand-make these Mexican gems and hope that my friends would feel the same. Fortunately they were a hit!

For this recipe, you can modify the flour type to your taste…all white, 2 1/2 cups white and 1 cup wheat, etc. But after trying a couple of different varieties, I actually enjoy the all whole-wheat flour version the best. It is important to note that I use white-whole wheat flour which still provides the whole-wheat nutrition but with a less nutty flavor. This makes a pretty large batch, but they also freeze beautifully so there’s no need to feel like you have to eat only tortillas for the next two days!

Makes approximately 18 tortillas

Ease of Preparation: Medium (only because it’s a bit time consuming)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached white whole-wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
  • 1 tsp vital wheat gluten (this gives whole wheat doughs more elasticity. If you don’t regularly bake w/ vital wheat gluten then skip this step…no need to buy an entire bag for 1 tsp! Your tortillas should still come out tasty.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 7 T canola or other oil with a high heat tolerance (I use grape seed oil)
  • 1 cup very hot water, plus more as needed to reach doughy consistency

Whisk together all dry ingredients. Mix oil and water together then add to the dry ingredients. Stir until the water and oil are fully incorporated (add a tad more water at this point if necessary) and all of the flour adheres into dough. Knead by hand or machine for no more than 3 minutes. The dough will not be very sticky at all. Place dough into a bowl, cover and let sit for 20 minutes.

Cut dough into 1.5 ounce portions (if you do not have a food scale, just cut dough evenly into small portions. You should end up with 18-19 pieces of dough). Shape each portion into a ball. Roll each ball into a circle, roughly 7 inches in diameter, or as thin as you can get them without breaking the dough (note, you will probably not have perfect circles. If you don’t, just go with it!). Cook on medium-high in a non-stick or cast iron skillet for about 20 -30 seconds (I use a 14 inch cast iron skillet). There is no need to oil the pan. Flip with a spatula, then cook for an additional 20 seconds, pressing any bubbles down with the spatula. Place tortillas on a paper towel-lined plate. The paper towel will help absorb any extra moisture. The tortillas will not stick together when stacked, so just pile them on top of each other as you cook them.

In case you’re interested, I use the following 1-man assembly line when making tortillas:

– Portion and shape all the dough
– Roll out 1 tortilla; place in heated skillet; begin rolling 2nd tortilla; flip 1st tortilla; continue rolling 2nd tortilla; place 1st tortilla on plate; place 2nd tortilla in skillet
-Repeat

It’s important to note that while your dough balls are waiting to be rolled, some may develop a crusty outside. Don’t worry about this; the dough will become soft again once you begin rolling it.

To freeze, simply place completely cooled tortillas, along with one or two paper towels on the “bookends” of the tortilla stack, in a gallon size freezer bag. The tortillas will keep for at least a couple of months, and they will not stick together in the freezer so you can take out one at a time as needed.

Santa Bread

I’ll admit it, I’m a recovering Pinterest addict. My sister’s friends clued me into the creative board site about six months ago, and once I dared to sign up and begin navigating the site, I was completely hooked. Since my initial Pinterest plunge, I have begun easing up on my time spent there, as one can easily waste invest an hour or more “pinning” (ask any Pinterest member, I think they’ll agree with me). And while it’s true that I’m currently not working, I still can’t completely justify hours worth of mind envy as I peruse picture after picture of glamorous outfits, room decor, make-up inspirations and culinary artwork (each visit reminds me once again that all my clothes are at least two years old and our living room looks like a barren ecru wasteland! Ha!). However, one extremely useful component of Pinterest is recipe finding! I have discovered tons of great cooking blogs and recipe links through Pinterest. What is more, if I find a recipe I want to try on a random site, I can then “pin” that link to my Pinterest board so that I don’t have to go scouring the interwebs once I’m ready to try it out. Genius!

As I was perusing Pinterest before the holidays I stumbled upon this great recipe for a Santa-shaped bread. And although I’m a bread amateur and have had only mild success with bread baking to date (I’m looking at you insanely yeasty, hockey-puck-like bagels), my Christmas spirit overcame my culinary fears and I decided to give it a try. To my delight (and that of my friends/unsuspecting guinea pigs) this bread not only looked awesome but it also tasted great! I only had whole wheat bread flour so my Santa looked like he had just come from Key West, but it still tasted delicious! Next time I plan to add a bit of vital wheat gluten to make the whole wheat concoction even lighter, but it was still great without it. The original recipe site has step-by-step pictures of how to form the Santa, so be sure to reference it while assembling your Santa! And yes, I realize this is about a month too late, but once you get on Pinterest, you can simply pin my blog link and have it ready for next year!

Impress your friends with this holiday treat. Heck, impress yourself!

Ease of Preparation: Medium (time consuming, but I promise the “Santa forming” is pretty easy!)

Click here for original recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 to 4 1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 packages (2 1/4 tsp or 1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast; if you have instant dry yeast as I do, use appx. 3 1/3 tsp total (rule of thumb, use 25% less when subbing instant yeast for active dry yeast)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 raisins or dried blueberries
  • 2 egg yolks, separated (for egg wash)
  • 2-3 drops red food coloring

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Once heated, turn off.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, water and butter to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients in standing mixer bowl w/ paddle attachment; beat just until moistened. Beat in the eggs until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough (I used about 4 1/4 cups total).

Switch to mixer’s kneading attachment and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in the warm oven until doubled, about 1 1/2 – 2hours. Punch dough down.

SANTA ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS (click here for photo how-to):

Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into two portions, one slightly larger than the other.

Shape the larger portion into an elongated triangle (it’ll probably be appx. 18-24 inches long) with rounded corners for Santa’s head and hat. Move triangle to parchment-lined cookie sheet; continue Santa assembly by rolling out the rest of the portions on a floured surface and transferring them onto the triangle.

Divide the smaller portion in half. Shape and flatten one half into a beard. Using scissors or a pizza cutter, cut into thin strips to within 1 in. of top. Position on Santa’s face; twist and curl strips if desired.

Use the remaining dough for the mustache, nose, hat pom-pom and brim. Shape a portion of dough into a mustache; flatten and cut the ends into small strips with scissors. Place above beard. Place a small ball above mustache for nose. Fold tip of hat over and add another ball for pom-pom. Roll out a narrow piece of dough to create a hat brim; position under hat tip and pom-pom. With scissors, cut two slits for eyes; insert raisins or blueberries into slits. Let Santa rest for another 20-30 minutes.

In separate small bowls, beat egg each yolk. Add red food coloring to one yolk. First brush plain yolk over entire dough (including hat pom-pom), minus the hat, nose and cheeks. Then using the red yolk, carefully brush over hat, nose and cheeks. Doing the red egg wash last will help prevent running.

Cover loosely with foil and try to make sure the foil does not touch the bread (otherwise the foil will stick to the bread). Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 10-12 minutes longer or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 1 loaf/ 15-16 servings.

Why Santa, what a big mustache you have!! (note to self, next year make mustache narrower)