Chocolate Zucchini Cake and Gerbera Daisies

Gerbera

Gerbera and the Ladybug

Chocolate Zucchini Superman Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Superman Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake Layers

Chocolate Zucchini Cake Layers

I realized that it’s been a long while since I posted about food. So here is one of my go to chocolate zucchini cake recipes. It’s from Epicurious, and the only change I make is sour cream instead of buttermilk, and a little less sugar (decrease by a quarter cup). We were lucky enough to have a big crop of zucchini this year, so that beautiful, organic, easy to grow vegetable is the star of my cake. The top layer of nuts and chocolate chips add texture and sweetness to the not too sweet cake layers. This recipe is great because it’s moist, delicious, and stands up to sculpting, and layers of home made marshmallow fondant as well as cream cheese icing, which is what I made the Superman logo cake with.

Included in this post is my next piece of art, a 24×36 oil on canvas painting of a gerbera daisy. I haven’t decided what color it will be, but, there will be a little ladybug exploring the flower. You might be able to see it in this first phase, sketched on one of the petals. I’m back to using oils after experimenting with acrylic. Oils are my comfort zone, I guess! Stay tuned for phase 2. Something about the first phase of this painting reminds me of chocolate, hence why I put it together with my cake post today! Hope you enjoy my chocolate zucchini cake recipe!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar (I just use 1.5 cups)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (I use sour cream)
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2 1/2 medium)
1 6-ounce package (about 1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
preparation
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Beat sugar, butter and oil in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Mix in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions each. Mix in grated zucchini. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts over.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan.

Chick-pea Chocolate Chip Cookies

One last post before Father’s Day weekend! I made these cookies for a treat today to cheer up my sick kiddies. It worked like a charm, by the way! Grins from ear to ear, and suddenly healthy appetites. There’s nothing better than freshly baked cookies and milk, other than, perhaps homemade chicken soup. These cookies are from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook. I do change up the recipe a bit, using real butter instead of margarine, and two whole eggs instead of just egg whites. I don’t make sweets for the kids very often, so real butter and whole eggs once in a while will definitely not hurt them! I also purée the chick peas (garbanzo beans) before adding them into the batter, pictured above in my mixer. As always, I vary my flours depending on what I have on hand, today I used whole organic spelt flour, sometimes I use a fifty-fifty mix of whole wheat and barley flour. I love sliced almonds, and often switch the must for the walnuts. These cookies are wonderful, with the addition of fiber, protein and iron from the beans. I’ve also used puréed black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, actually any beans will work in this recipe. Just make sure to rinse and drain them first! I also omit the salt.

Chick-Pea Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1, 19 oz can rinsed, drained and puréed chick peas
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup walnuts or sliced almonds)
3/4 cup raisins
2 cups whole wheat, or whole spelt flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray cookie sheets with non stick spray,or use parchment paper.

In bowl of mixer, beat sugar and butter until fluffy.
Add eggs, pureed chick peas and vanilla.
Add flour, oats, baking soda, chocolate chips, and nuts.
Drop onto baking sheets using a rounded teaspoon of batter, about 1.5 inches apart.

Bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Do not over bake.
Cool on rack. Makes about 46 cookies depending on size.

Enjoy!!

Toffee Blondies

Despite the warm weather, I found myself craving the sweet, caramel flavor of these delicious bars. While I love chocolate, sometimes my taste buds want something different from the usual fudge brownie. These bars are from Everyday Food, and are very simple and easy to make. I always double the recipe, as these bars disappear very quickly in my house. As per usual, I split the flour 50/50, all purpose and whole organic spelt, I figure, why not try to increase the fiber in this recipe, it doesn’t affect the taste to me at all. Hope you love these as much as we do!

Toffee Blondies

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup toffee pieces or 1 cup butterscotch chips
Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare an 8 by 8 inch square pan by lining it with foil.

In an electric mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar. It won’t quite cream like unmelted butter, but just get it mixed really well.

Add the eggs, vanilla, and salt and mix until well combined.

Add the flour and mix on low until just combined.

Add the toffee bits and, with a rubber spatula, mix them in, scraping down the bowl and giving the batter a final mix by hand.

Bake the blondies for 30-35 minutes until just golden brown and firm.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes


Well, it looks like my dessert posts are the most popular! 🙂

So here is another family favorite, straight from Jessica Seinfeld’s “Deceptively Delicious”. I am sure this recipe has been “blogged” a lot, but I think it is worth mentioning again! I always make sure that my children are exposed to a wide range of flavors and textures of food, but sometimes they just get on a jag where they won’t eat this veggie or that. So I pull out Jessica’s book, and purée my little heart out. I truly believe, however, that while tricking kids into eating their veggies works on a nutritional basis, it is still extremely important to offer them the whole form of the vegetable, raw, or lightly steamed with as few accoutrements as possible so that they learn to eat their vegetables in the natural form.

** I included her recipe for cauliflower icing, but I didn’t make it for this particular batch of cupcakes. I iced a regular birthday cake with this once, and not one guest noticed the cauliflower. When I told them, they were very surprised! **

Happy Victoria Day!

Chocolate Cupcakes
by Jessica Seinfeld
Deceptively Delicious

Makes 12

Cupcakes
nonstick cooking spray
1 cup avocado puree
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup nonfat milk (skim)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 large egg whites (I use the entire egg)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Frosting
1– 8oz pkg reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup cauliflower puree
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt.

1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.
2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer beat the avocado puree, sugar, milk, vanilla, and vinegar until smooth. Beat in the egg whites one at a time just until incorporated.
3. Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until smooth. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until the tops of the cupcakes are lightly browned and spring back to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes. Turn out onto a rack to cool completely before frosting them.
4 For the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, cauliflower puree, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Spread over the cooled cakes.
5. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container at room temp for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to a month.

**Her note** The taste of the avocado is still slightly detectable when the cupcakes are warm, so be sure they’re completely cool before you serve.

To make the avocado puree to make this you get two avocados and whiz them in your food processor until smooth- the cauliflower puree steam the cauliflower and the also process until smooth.

Dark Chocolate “Cloud” Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Icing

Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Icing

Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Icing

Chocolate Cupcakes with Marshmallow Icing

These are the most moist, rich and delicious cupcakes you will ever taste! And the bonus is that they are so easy to make! They are a family favorite. The marshmallow icing is so light – the perfect cloud of delicious sweet fluffiness to top the densely moist chocolate cupcake.

Note that in my cake recipes I always switch out all-purpose flour for cake flour. I find that the cake is much fluffier this way. Sour cream is always an ingredient. It not only adds flavor, but it keeps the cakes rich and moist. I always double this recipe, one is not enough!
Recipes adapted from Everyday Food and the Joy of Baking.

Cupcakes

3/4 cup of butter
3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Sift dry ingredients together, set aside.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, add eggs one at a time, beat in vanilla.
Mixer on low, add flour alternating with sour cream in two batches, ending with flour.

Place in cupcake cups, bake 30-35 minutes.
Cool.

Marshmallow Frosting
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 – 7 ounce (198 grams) jar of marshmallow creme

2 cups (230 grams) confectioners sugar (icing or powdered sugar), sifted

2-4 tablespoons light cream

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and well blended. Beat in the vanilla extract and marshmallow creme. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the cream and beat to combine. Then, on high speed, beat frosting until it is light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add more cream or confectioners sugar if necessary to get the right piping consistency.

Coconut “Fairy” Cakes

Coconut Fairy Cakes

Coconut Fairy Cakes

 

Now how could I possibly start a blog about food without a cupcake recipe? Or “Fairy” cake recipe, as my daughter would call it. Seems like cupcakes and blogs go hand in hand, so at the risk of being stereotypical, here is my favorite cupcake recipe, adapted from the “Today’s Kitchen” cookbook.

3/4 pound butter
2 cups sugar
5 extra large eggs
1.5 tsp vanilla
1.5 tsp pure almond extract
3 cups cake flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream

Plus cream cheese icing, recipe to follow.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Cream butter and sugar for about 5 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time while mixing on low.
Add extracts.
In separate bowl, sift dry ingredients.
Add in three parts, alternating with sour cream, and ending with the dry.
Mix until batter looks “glossy”.
Fill cupcake paper liners, and bake for 25-35 minutes.
Let cool, and frost!

Cream Cheese icing

1 pound cream cheese
3/4 pound butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1.5 lbs icing sugar.

Combine all ingredients, mix until smooth, add color if desired!
Dip frosted tops of cakes in sweetened flaked coconut if desired.