Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chocolate chip zucchini bread

Happy Monday Tuesday!  Can you believe Labor Day is behind us and we're entering the thick of September?  It may be the last days of summer, but when I look at that bread, I forget that I spent most of the weekend wearing a windbreaker and jeans.  Instead, I think of overflowing gardens and flip-flops and hesitating to turn on my oven for weeks.  It's that time of year when everyone is trying to unload the literal tons of zucchini that have come from their vegetable gardens this year.  Casual friends bring you a grocery bag full of it.  Coworkers leave piles of the green stuff on a community table for the picking.  Me?  I get mine from the local grocery store, on sale at least, since the city isn't exactly the best place to garden for my friends and me.  Attention any zucchini breeders -- if you are looking to find a good home for your veggies, look no further than this girl.

I love zucchini plain, but I've also introduced it to some other friends of mine in the kitchen.

There have been pizzas, Matt's favorite pizza in the world, so he says.  And zucchini hash.  It's been sauteed with herbs.  And baked into chips.  But none of those travel very well, and I wanted to make something to take with me on my jaunt out of the city and into the river country of Maryland.  And it had to be nibble-friendly... you know, because it will most likely sit out on the table for passers-by to sample throughout the day until it's dinnertime.  Hey, waterskiing and shooting skeet and feasting at picnics will tire out a girl :)

This bread came together in no time.  I made it Saturday morning before we hit the road and couldn't even manage to wait until we got to my aunt and uncle's place to dig into it.  I blame it on the blog -- you know, I had to slice up a piece and taste it for your sake.  And because I knew it wouldn't last long enough for a photo op once the family arrived.  Boy, am I glad I planned ahead.  This disappeared before iced brownies and peanut butter bars, a fact of which I'm so proud it almost brings tears to my eyes.  The cinnamon and nutmeg warm up and flavor the whole bread and the chocolate is a sweet note with zucchini playing along in the background.  This would be an indulgence any time of the day... and I'm wishing I had more of it.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
(adapted from Paula Deen)
-makes one 9-by-5-inch loaf

A few notes: The original recipe called for both chopped pecans and orange zest -- as you can see below, I omitted both.  It's very useful to read the comments on a recipe and a few mentioned that the orange flavor masked that of the zucchini, so I skipped it.  And I chose to leave out the nuts since I know my cousin isn't a fan of them, but increased the chocolate chips to make up for some lost volume :)  Finally, I halved the recipe to make only one loaf, but learn from my mistake -- make two.  I'm salivating for a piece of it right now and sadly, the last crumbs are somewhere on the bank of the Potomac River.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup grated zucchini (roughly half of 1 large)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F.  Generously grease bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 metal loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat by hand together eggs until light and fluff.  Add sugar and continue to beat until well mixed.  Add oil, vanilla, zucchini, and chocolate chips, stirring until combined.  Slowly add the flour mixture and stir until no white remains.  Pour batter into pan.

Bake in oven for 50 to 55 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean (of batter, there will most likely be some melted chocolate on it).  Cool pan on rack for 15 minutes.  Run a paring knife around the outside edge of the loaf and, carefully, turn out of pan.  Invert and cool completely right side up.  Slice and serve to enjoy!

Store, covered, at room temperature up to 3 days.  (The original says it can be chilled/stored in the refrigerator as well, and if doing so, it should keep up to 5 days.)  Next time I make this I might even try chilling it and topping with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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