The Best Chocolate Muffins I Almost Never Made

National Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor’s Porch Day is celebrated on August 8 each year.

Why, oh why, oh WHY can’t someone sneak some zucchinis onto MY porch? I’d be ever so grateful! All we can buy in the store here are the small zucchinis that aren’t much bigger than the chilis used to make chili rellenos – about 12″ long if you’re lucky. Not much bigger than a bratwurst sausage. It makes me sad. Back home, the zukes grew to the size of a child’s fat plastic learning-to-play baseball bat – things of beauty, they were. Oh well.

Zucchinis are lovely because of the taste that they impart to the dishes created with them. They taste incredibly fresh and clean. Not like mouthwash – zucchinis are the real deal. It’s kind of like the difference between smelling a “fresh scent” candle or room spray and actually being swaddled in soft, fresh, cottony sheets straight from the dryer. They’re that good. I’m salivating just thinking about them.

And what do they have to do with chocolate muffins? Well, you see, even though zucchinis are a fruit, they are versatile enough to be used in both sweet and savoury creations. They’re just as at home in lasagne or tomato sauce for pasta as they are in dessert loaves and cakes. Sweet Baboo has voiced his approbation about eating zucchini in savoury dishes (even though I still sneak it in sometimes – shh!), so once in a while I splurge on a baby zucchini from the supermarket for chocolate zucchini muffins for breakfast. Now, a chocolate muffin may not sound healthy, but for a girl who used to eat chocolate icing straight from the can for breakfast, this is a big step in the right direction.

If you try these muffins, they won’t disappoint. They have soft, crumbly texture like a cupcake, yet they are moist and freshly sweet – the zucchini takes away any cloying candy-like too-sweet taste. Here’s how it’s done:

Cut the two ends off of the zuke you have and quarter it.

Leave that beautiful dark green skin on - it's extra fibre!

Leave that beautiful dark green skin on – it’s extra fibre!

Next, use a knife to cut out the seed section. It adds too much water and the seeds don’t always break down nicely in baking.

cut out the seeds

Now it’s time to get the food processor involved. Use the smallest shred possible so that the zucchini will just disintegrate into the muffins when it is baked. For this, I use the attachment on the right:

grater

I only ended up with one cup of shredded zucchini:

one cup of shredded zuke

This is where my happy accident came in. My recipe calls for 3 cups of zucchini and I didn’t have any more zucchini to put in. Now what? Well, I have plenty of apple butter in the fridge, so, ever the intrepid kitchen explorer, out of the fridge it came.

Adorable, no?

Adorable, no?

Now that the fruit is on hand, it’s time to get down to business.

Melt half a cup of butter and pour it into 2 cups of sugar. Cream the butter and sugar with a fancy mixer like the picture below.

cream butter and sugar

Into this mixture, throw in the shredded zucchini, the 2 cups of apple butter, 1/2 cup water, 4 eggs and 2 tsp vanilla. Combine well using your fancy mixer.

In a separate bowl, combine 2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, and 3 cups flour (I use 1 cup of rye flour and 2 cups of Robin Hood Best for Blending flour). Once all the lumps have been pressed out and it looks like a dry brownie mix, dump the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir well. It will look like this:

It looks lumpy. That's the zucchini and apple butter. When it cooks, the texture will change.

It looks lumpy. That’s the zucchini and apple butter. When it cooks, the texture will change.

Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tins. I like parchment paper baking cups, so that is what I use.

Batter up!

Batter up!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oven is ready, pop the muffin tins in and set a timer for 30 minutes.

outof the oven

As soon as they’re out, I put the muffins on the counter to cool. The smallest one goes to Sweet Baboo for testing:

Yes, this IS the smallest one. That's a LARGE muffin paper... I don't mess around with chocolate muffins.

Yes, this IS the smallest one. That’s a LARGE muffin paper… I don’t mess around with chocolate muffins.

This one was enthusiastically approved. The next 8 days will have a distinctly sweet start! 🙂

By the way, I have made this recipe many times in the past with just 3 cups of shredded zucchini. The muffins were good, but the zucchini and apple butter together make the muffins much more tender and luscious than they ever were with the original recipe. Try it – you’ll see!

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