Jun 19, 2017

Recipe: Whole Grain Dark Chocolate Walnut Zucchini Bread

I was trying to come up with something the other day that would be a great food gift to bring along to pick someone up from the airport. It didn't need to be easily eaten on the go, but it would be something that didn't require any extra steps, didn't assume that the person had anything at all at home to go with it (like cream or jam) since he was returning from a longish trip and likely had an understocked fridge, would be delicious at any time of the day/night (jetlag!), and still wholesome enough to provide some nutritional value after a long trip (and since it probably wouldn't be paired with anything else.)

This bread is what I came up with and it went over very well!

Dark Chocolate Walnut Zucchini Bread

The whole wheat and ~2 medium sized zucchinis that went into the loaf make it virtuous enough to eat on its own/for breakfast, but it's also extremely chocolatey, moist, and has a flavor depth from the zucchini, Dutch processed cocoa (do not substitute!), and toasted walnuts that makes it a joy to eat.

Read on for the recipe!

Whole Grain Dark Chocolate Walnut Zucchini Bread

Makes 1 loaf, 8.5" x 4.5"

* 0.75 c. all-purpose flour
* 0.75 c. white whole wheat flour (regular whole wheat flour works, too, white whole wheat flour is just what I had on hand)
* 0.25 c. Dutch processed cocoa powder (do NOT replace with normal natural cocoa powder!)
* 0.75 tsp. baking soda
* 0.5 tsp. baking powder
* 1 tsp. sea salt

* 0.5 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
* 1.5 c. chopped bittersweet dark chocolate (~200g, use chocolate with 70% or greater cocoa content - I used 72%)

* 0.25 c. unsalted butter, melted
* 0.5 c. buttermilk (I used lowfat, 1.5%, and it worked fine)

* 1 large egg
* 0.75 c. light brown sugar
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract

* 2.5 c. shredded zucchini, drained

1) Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Grease and line a 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pan with parchment paper, letting the paper drape over the sides for easier removal of the loaf later.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt with a fine whisk or a fork. Remove all clumps and whisk until it's an even mixture.

3) Mix in the walnuts and 1.25c. of the bittersweet dark chocolate, reserving 0.25c. of the chocolate for later.

4) In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter and buttermilk. Add the egg, brown sugar, and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly, until it's an even mixture.

5) Place the drained zucchini on a clean, lint-free kitchen towel (or on robust, flake-proof paper towels) and place another towel or paper towel on top. Press down medium-firmly, to get out any extra water. This is really important to avoid soggy bread that doesn't rise properly!

6) Fold the zucchini carefully into the wet ingredients and mix well.

7) Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix VERY GENTLY. Don't overmix, just fold the ingredients carefully over on each other until combined. This is very important, because you don't want to activate the gluten in the flour and get a tough, dense loaf!

8) Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

9) Sprinkle the reserved 0.25c. of chopped bittersweet dark chocolate evenly over the top of the loaf. Alternately, if you want a crispy crust on top, omit this step.

10) Baked for 55-65 minutes, turning once midway through, until a touthpick inserted in the center comes out clean/mostly clean (it's a very fudgy bread, I found that I still had just a little bit of chocolatey zucchini sticking to the toothpick even when it was done).

11) Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then lift the loaf out of the pan (this is where the extra parchment paper comes in handy) and remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.

Easy Whole Grain Baking

Enjoy! This bread is great warm, just out of the oven, or chilled, just out of the fridge.

Since it's a moist loaf, I'd definitely recommend refrigerating anything that you don't eat on the first day. It also freezes well, either as a complete loaf or in pre-cut slices!

What do you want to bake next?

What's your favorite kind of bread?

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