Zucchini Loves Chocolate

Zucchini.  Courgette. Kesäkurpitsa.

Whatever it is that you call it, everywhere you look right now, you'll see zucchini for sale or for free:  giant green zucchini, left too long on the vine and now the size of an adult man's calf; sweet yellow patty pan squash, reminiscent of a distant UFO; sunny long yellow ones, cheerful green and white striped: both long and round.  Zucchini is yours for the taking, but what do you do with it?  Here in Finland there are an abundance of recipes on how to cook zucchini as part of a savory dish.  My current favorite is the one my father-in-law made us last weekend:  A large zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise, soft center carved out.  The center meat (seeds etc) was then chopped up and added to a mixture of cooked ground beef, onions, and chanterelles, seasoned well with salt, pepper and italian seasoning, and stuffed back into the zucchini shell, topped with grated mozzarella, and baked in the oven for 45 minutes.  He served it with Blackcurrant jam and the whole thing was delicious and satisfying.

But sometimes savory zucchini is something you just don't want to eat anymore.  Not that it tastes bad, but because, as William Cowper said "Variety is the spice of life - that which gives it all it's flavor".  So for variety's sake and mine, I turned to a childhood favorite - a method of cooking zucchini up into bread.  I actually don't know why it's called "Zucchini Bread" any more than I understand the terms "Pumpkin Bread" or "Banana Bread", because if we are honest with ourselves, they are truly CAKE meekly disguised as bread by cooking them in loaf pans so the shape deceives the diner into believing the myth.  These "breads" are something you serve with a cup of coffee or tea, not with a slice of cheese, tomato and a leaf of fresh lettuce.

Nope.  Zucchini Cake it is, and I love it.

I started a search for recipes - I wanted something that at least approached a healthier version of the bread, and maybe, just maybe, had a little chocolate.  So I tweaked and combined ideas from a few recipes, put it together in about 15 minutes, shoved it in the oven, and went off to do something else for 50 minutes. The results were good.  Very good.  And J announced "I love this!  This might be the best cake thingy you've ever made!"  Kiitos.  Thank you.  Danke Schön.  I'll share it with my friends, then.

So here you go, friends:  Zucchini Cake with a little lemon, a little rosemary, and big chocolate chunks.  Bon Appetit!

Zucchini Loves Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C.  Lightly oil (use olive or vegetable oil) a 9" square baking pan and set aside.  Alternatively, you can use two, greased loaf pans.

1. Wash and dry a medium size zucchini.  Grate it, including the peel (kuori) on a box grater until you have 3 cups / 6 dl.  Set aside.

2.  Roughly chop a 100g gram bar of dark baking chocolate and set aside.  You can also use 1 cup / 2dl of semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I think the chocolate chunks actually taste better here.

In a large bowl, combine:
1 1/2 cups / 3 dl flour
1 cup / 2 dl emmer (farro) flour
1/2 cup / 1 dl graham flour (graham maalais vehnäjauho)
1 1/4 cup / 2,5 dl white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh rosemary

In a small bowl combine:
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup / 1,5 dl extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest.

Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture.  Add the zucchini and the chocolate chunks and mix thoroughly until all the dough is well incorporated.  It will be very thick, but don't worry about that - the zucchini has a lot of moisture in it and the end product will be perfect.

Pour the batter into your pan, or divide between two loaf pans if using.  Press the dough down into the pan and smooth the top with a spoon.  Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan to a cooling rack to cool completely.

20 servings

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