Friday, September 14, 2012

For the Love of Zucchini, Part 4: Muffins!!

I know I haven't been around as much lately-- just busy around here. You'd think with the big guy starting kindergarten, I'd have all this extra time. It just hasn't worked out that way. First I overloaded my to-do list and got a bit bogged down there. Next I got involved in a bunch of procrastination projects that had been put to the side while hubby was working nights (thank goodness that's over!). Finally I've gotten a few extra minutes but -- so classic-- I've ended up with a terrible head cold. Sheesh. Anyways, it's not that I haven't been doing anything or that I didn't want to write. Hopefully I'll manage to get this finished up without sneezing all over the keyboard (again). Perhaps next week we'll work on some homemade sanitizers??

I really thought I was done with all the zucchini several weeks ago but then I was at Trader Joe's and they had packages of small organic zukes that I just couldn't resist! So once again, I was finding ways to eat them up. I ate a few myself, just boiled, buttered and salted (my favorite easy prep) but that left me with 5  that I still needed to use up! I threw one into a crustless quiche that I sometimes make for dinner and then there were 4.

I decided I really needed to make some zucchini bread. But instead of baking it up in large loaves, I like to take these quick breads and turn them into muffins. It's something I've found works well for banana nut bread so I thought I'd give it a try here, as well. It makes the bread into nice, easy-to-grab single servings. Because this is from a quick bread base instead of a muffin base, these are quite a bit denser than a typical muffin (slightly shorter as well, but not stumpy). Think of these more like "mini loaves" instead of muffins and you won't be disappointed!

Spiced Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins

Since I had so much zucchini, I opted to do 2 batches. I did one as a fairly traditional spice cake flavor and decided to try out chocolate for the other. I'd never done a chocolate zucchini bread before but it ended up being a big hit with the hubby. I also made these with 100% whole wheat flour. I used King Arthur's white whole wheat (which I've started using in my bread baking). It's NOT bleached or lightened in any way, it just comes from a lighter colored white wheat. This gives it a milder, less "branny" kind of flavor. Its definitely my go-to flour of choice right now!

As I converted this recipe (originally from Better Homes & Gardens checkerboard book) to be whole wheat, I had to add some liquid into the recipe to balance the dryness of the fiber. I've opted to do that with unsweetened applesauce. If you use a more traditional whole wheat, you may need to add more liquids or applesauce to get the batter to the proper consistency. If you use a white (not whole wheat) all purpose typical flour, omit the applesauce all together. Also, be sure to drain your zucchini well before adding it to the batter!

Chocolate Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins

We ate a few of the finished muffins, then I set them out on baking sheets to freeze individually overnight. I'm storing them in the freezer in a large gallon ziptop baggie. This has worked amazingly well to keep the muffins from sticking together. I've been sending one to school with the little dude for snack time and as I've been sending them frozen, they've managed to hold together long enough for him to eat (at least according to him...).

If you don't have enough zucchini to do both kinds but want to try them both out, the base is the same for each. Simply omit the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg/cocoa) during mixing. Separate the batter in half and then add the respective spices to each batch (remember to halve the amounts!).

Version 1: Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread-Muffins (yield 12 muffins)

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat (see note above)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini (about 2 small)
1/4 cup cooking oil (I used refined coconut oil)
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1) Grease or line all 12 standard size muffin cups. (Silicon liners need not be greased) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Combine dry ingredients (flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder). Set aside
3) In a medium mixing bowl combine sugar, zucchini, oil, applesauce & egg-- mix well.
4) Add dry mixture to zucchini mixture. Stir until just moistened. Fold in nuts (if using)
5) Spoon batter into prepared cups. Fill approximately 2/3 full.
6) Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes (wooden toothpick inserted in center should come out clean).
7) Cool on a wire rack. Remove liners if using silicon. Keeps in a sealed container for 2-3 days (in refrigerator) or freeze individually.

Version 2: Whole Wheat Chocolate Zucchini Bread-Muffins

Follow directions in above recipe EXCEPT:

1) Omit cinnamon & nutmeg
2) Add 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. (This will be lightly chocolate flavored, feel free to increase this if you LOVE chocolate)
3) Optional add in: 1/2 cup chocolate chips. (I didn't do this the first time but probably will the next time, to up the chocolate factor!)

Mix and cook as directed above!!

Feel free to comment below and let me know if you liked this recipe or thought it was interesting or had a suggestion!!

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