Veggies in chocolate form? I'm all over it! With home gardens and farmer's markets overflowing with zucchini, this is a great time to make a batch of these zucchini brownies. They are amazingly rich and moist and will particularly satisfy those chocolate lovers out there.
I knew zucchini brownies were meant to be when King-Man came home from work with a GIGANTIC homegrown zucchini brought to him by our friend, Terry. We're wondering if Terry's husband, Robert, has been feeding their zucchini steroids. This thing was seriously huge--one zucchini was big enough for two batches of these brownies. So, I made a batch to enjoy now and a second batch to freeze for later. (Yes, you can freeze these brownies!)
Healthified! I looked around for a healthy zucchini brownie recipe, but couldn't find one that wasn't also loaded with a lot of unhealthy ingredients--pretty much negating the whole zucchini-makes-them-healthy concept. After some experimenting, I came up with a recipe that had as many healthy ingredients as possible while still tasting like a decadent dessert. My zucchini brownies aren't exactly health food, but except for the sugar my ingredients are all good for you in reasonable quantities. I guess I'd call my recipe healthiER. Here's how I healthified the ingredients:
reduced the amount of sugar
reduced the amount of oil
used coconut oil (for it's health benefits and flavor); you can use canola or veg. oil, too
added yogurt (replaced some oil and adds moisture and nutrients)
used 100% whole grain flour (no white stuff at all)
omitted eggs entirely (not that they're bad for you, but they're unecessary)
used dark cocoa powder (higher in antioxidants), although you can use regular cocoa, too
Vegan, Gluten- & Dairy-Free options. Easy substitutions are listed in my recipe for these dietary preferences.
You can't taste the zucchini. If you're offering these brownies to people who are likely to turn up their nose at the thought of zucchini in brownies, my advice is: don't tell them & they'll never know. Seriously. The pureed zucchini disappears into the batter as it cooks. It provides moisture and some nutrition without a veggie flavor--just like the carrots in carrot cake.
Step 2. In a blender or food processor, puree the zucchini, yogurt, oil, vanilla, and sugar. This releases the moisture inside the zucchini and the pureed mixture disappears into the batter. Other zucchini brownie recipes call for grating the zucchini, but that results in a dryer batter and bits of visible zucchini in the finished brownies. Pureeing these ingredients is an important step for producing a good brownie texture and appearance.
Step 3. Add the remaining dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk them together. (The batch pictured below uses regular cocoa powder. I'll show you a batch using dark cocoa later.) Step 4. Add the pureed mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until it's evenly moistened throughout. Step 5. Pour the brownie batter into a greased/oiled 9x13 pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Step 6. Move to a cooling rack.
Unfrosted Brownies. You don't have to frost these brownies. If you choose not to, I recommend dusting the top of the cooled brownies with powdered sugar to improve their appearance.
Frosted Brownies (highly recommended!) I use my One-Minute Chocolate Frosting. One frosting batch is just enough for a thin, tasty layer of frosting. I let the brownies cool 20-30 minutes before frosting them--they're still slightly warm but not hot. You can sprinkle nuts on top, if you like. I usually add nuts to half of the pan to accomodate different preferences. For ingredients, photos, and instructions for making the frosting:
A batch using dark cocoa powder (highly recommended!) I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder for my second batch so that I could do a taste comparison. These were hands-down my favorite--moist, rich, and much more chocolaty. But I'm a big chocolate lover. The more chocolaty, the better! Plus, these have the added bonus of more antioxidants from the dark cocoa. You can see the darker batter in the photos below.The regular cocoa powder used in my first batch results in a milder chocolate flavor, if that's what you prefer.
Cut and serve!
Or, cover them and save for later. I think the flavor improves the next day. You can also cover and freeze them. Might as well make a couple of batches while you're at it!
I like using these shallow pans that come with lids. It's easy to cut and remove the brownies from these, and they're great for stacking and storing compactly. Regular 9x13 baking pans work fine, too, if that's what you have.
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (dark cocoa recommended)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup canned evaporated milk (may substitute almond milk, if desired)
2 tablespoons butter (may substitute coconut or vegetable oil, if desired)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 pan. In blender or food processor, puree zucchini, oil, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla. Set aside. In large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add pureed wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until moist throughout. Pour into greased pan, spread evenly, and bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. (Overcooking will result in dry brownies.) Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Cool for 20-25 minutes and frost while still warm.
TO MAKE FROSTING: (View photos & tips for making frosting at www.TheYummyLife.com/Chocolate_Frosting) Combine chocolate chips, evaporated milk, butter (or oil) and vanilla in microwave-proof bowl. Microwave on full power for 30-40 seconds. Remove and whisk until chocolate chips melt in and mixture is smooth (return to microwave for a few seconds if necessary). Add powdered sugar and continue whisking until smooth. Spread evenly over brownies while they are still slightly warm. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired.
Brownies may left unfrosted, if preferred. Dust the top lightly with powdered sugar for a prettier appearance.
Brownies (frosted or unfrosted) may be covered and frozen. Remove cover as they thaw to prevent condensation from forming and making the frosting soggy.
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