Banana Zucchini Bread with Chocolate and Walnuts

The end of summer is one of the best times to eat seasonally, as plenty of produce are in abundance. While I enjoy sweet juicy summer fruits like peaches and berries on its own, zucchini, a summer squash, needs a little transformation to truly be palatable. My favorite way of consuming zucchini is in the form of a quick bread, like I’ve done before.

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Then 19-cent Trader Joe’s bananas beckoned to me and I thought… how about a banana zucchini bread?! Banana bread is awesome. Zucchini bread is awesome. They should be married together in a happy bread combination!

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I knew I wanted chocolate in my bread, because sweets don’t spell “dessert” to me unless there’s chocolate in it. I started off by looking at banana zucchini bread recipes, and after comparing a few, I used this Allrecipes recipe as a base and made some tweaks. I halved the recipe because I don’t want to be eating banana zucchini bread for days. I also used less sugar, knowing that the banana and the chocolate will add a bit of sweetness. I used less flour as I wanted the bread to be more chunky from half-mashed banana pieces and chocolate bits, and added more zucchini so the bread would be moister.

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And it was perfect. The muffins have a delectably browned muffin top, and the inside is studded with mashed banana, chocolate chunks, and walnut pieces. It’s not quite as sweet as a typical banana bread, yet is still very moist. I love the textural contrast that this moist yet densely packed muffin provides. At 204 calories apiece, I think I’ll allow myself a few more.

Banana Zucchini Bread with Chocolate and Walnuts
Adapted from Allrecipes
Makes 12 muffins or 1 8×4 loaf pan

1 1/2 (73g) large eggs
6 tbsps vegetable oil
1/3 cup (67g) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (45g) white sugar
1 cup grated zucchini
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups (180g)  sieved all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (34g) dark chocolate (optional, can be swapped out for raisins, cranberries, etc.)
1/4 cup (30g) chopped walnuts (optional, can be swapped out for pecans)
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. If making a loaf, grease and flour one 8×4 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until light yellow and frothy. Add oil, brown sugar, white sugar, grated zucchini, bananas, and vanilla; blend together until well combined. Stir in the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the chocolate and nuts. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes for muffins, or 50 minutes for a loaf. Allow to cool in the muffin cups or loaf pan on a wire rack before removing and serving.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

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As a reluctant vegetable eater, I’d love any way I can sneak vegetable into my dessert. Summer is when zucchini is in abundance, and while I heartily enjoy a simply-seasoned zucchini roast, I’m actually a big fan of zucchini bread. The biggest reason why this is the case is because you barely taste the vegetable. It adds moisture and fiber while adding a touch of earthiness to an otherwise too-sweet confection. I don’t make zucchini bread more mainly because a) grating zucchini is so tiresome and b) I’m more of a cookie girl myself. Crunch over crumb!

I chose this recipe for its simplicity. There weren’t any funky ingredients that I didn’t already have in my pantry. Zucchini being as forgiving as a baking ingredient as it is, I added in about a 1/4 cup than the original recipe stipulated (didn’t want to waste that last nub of vegetable!) and reduced the oil needed. I also subbed half of the flour with Carol Fenster’s baking mix of 1 cup rice flour, 1/2-3/4 cup potato starch and ¼ cup tapioca starch. I also judge a recipe by the number of bowls I need to use, and this just used two. Yay for fewer dishes!

The texture of the cake ended up quite moist, if a tad too sweet. I may reduce the sugar by two to four tablespoons in the future. The cake didn’t have as much volume as I would have liked, but it was still appropriately fluffy and voluminous.

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake
From Cookie Madness
Makes 1 9×5 loaf pan

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used half gluten-free flour)
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/2 tbsps cocoa powder
1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups grated zucchini
1/4 cup hand-chopped dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×5 inch metal loaf pan.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Beat eggs with an electric mixer. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until light. Reduce speed of mixer and beat in vanilla, cocoa powder and oil. By hand, stir in the flour mixture. Fold in zucchini and chopped chocolate. Pour batter into pan.

Bake at 350° for 60 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan.

Chocolate Stout Beer Bread

Sundays as a full-time student and Sundays as an intern are worlds apart. During the school semester, Sundays is when I scramble to finish my homework that I’ve left neglected over the weekend. However, now Sundays are for me to contemplate what I’d like to bake and what creative concoctions I can conjure. (Guttural alliteration!) The idea for this was actually somewhat fortuitous. I was cycling to Chinatown for my weekly groceries on the cheap, and I thought about how I could incorporate the chocolate stout I randomly bought into a baked good. I thought back to the whiskey bread I had at Gwynnett Street, and I was like, hey, beer has yeast. Bread needs yeast to rise. I should make a beer bread!

Of course, beer bread isn’t an original idea. Google yielded hundreds of beer bread recipes, all in various incarnations: with ale, with cheese, with scallions, etc. Me being me, I decided to put chocolate and bacon in my beer bread. I know, I’m starting to get a little bit predictable on this front and I’m also five years behind the bacon trend, but you really can’t go wrong with bacon. I also converted the recipe into muffin form because it’s so much easier to freeze individual portions and reheat each one when the munchies strike. I loved how simple the recipe was: it really is a matter of just mixing everything into one bowl and then baking it. No complicated mixing techniques, no compulsory order of ingredients: just slosh everything into a bowl and go. While the concept behind beer bread is that the yeast in beer will help the bread rise, I think the rising action is more a consequence of the liberal amount of baking powder that went into it. This is definitely more a bread than a muffin, so don’t be disappointed if it isn’t as much of a dessert as you’d hope it might be. The texture of the bread is more like a healthy breakfast muffin. Feel free to spread butter or cream cheese onto this slightly stout-tasting bread.

Chocolate Stout Beer Bread
Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

3 cups flour (sifted)
3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) cans chocolate stout
1/2 cup melted butter ( 1/4 cup will do just fine)
Chocolate chips or bacon bits, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
Pour into 12 muffin tins.
Bake 15 minutes, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.

Bacon Bourbon Cornbread


I have been baking, but the dearth in posts lately is because I haven’t baked anything worthy of a blog post. I was inspired to make some bacon cornbread recently, but it turned out too dry and bland for my liking. I was determined to make some kick-ass bacon cornbread, and I’m so glad this current version held up. I found a recipe on Allrecipes that has stood the test of user reviews, and decided to use it as my base for the cornbread.


This cornbread is moist and fluffy with a slight gritty texture from the cornmeal, and nuanced enough with flavors of applesmoked bacon and oaky bourbon to be eaten on its own. You’re also greeted with the occasional bit of crispy bacon as you chew each muffin down.

I made a few substitutions that I believe really elevated the original recipe. Firstly, I used bacon fat instead of vegetable oil, which adds an extra layer of smokiness to the cornbread. I’ve been saving all the bacon fat from my various bacon baking experiments, and it definitely came in handy. I also used water instead of milk because I didn’t have milk, but I am of the understanding that milk’s function in most cake recipes is just to add moisture so I felt comfortable subbing it out. I also made this in a muffin pan instead of a cake pan, which meant more crisp, browned edges. Greasing the muffin pan in bacon fat also added a savory crunch to the outside of it. The best alteration was probably the addition of whiskey. I had half a cup of bacon-infused bourbon (recipe) sitting around, and decided to throw it into the mix. I had thought the original batter looked a bit dry, and I’m glad the bourbon didn’t make the cornbread soggy.

Bacon Whiskey Cornbread
Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from Allrecipes

1 cup yellow cornmeal (finely ground)
1 cup milk or water (I used water)
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, lightly beat
1/2 cup of bacon-infused bourbon or just plain bourbon
1/3 cup bacon fat or vegetable oil (I highly recommend using bacon fat)
3 slices of bacon cooked till crispy, then cut into small pieces, slightly larger than 1/4 inch squares

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 12 muffin tins with bacon fat.
2. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal and milk (or water) and let sit for 15 minutes. Combine with flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, bourbon and bacon fat. Stir in bacon bits.
3. Bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then cool completely on cooling rack.

Bourbon Banana Muffins

These bourbon banana muffins might not be lookers but they definitely pack a powerful punch. You wouldn’t think to combine bananas and bourbon but I personally would find any excuse to sneak alcohol in my desserts. The muffins are very moist and flavorful, and have a great texture. You can’t just stop at one.

Bourbon Banana Muffins
From Cookie Madness
Makes 1 dozen muffins

1 1/2 cups (6.8 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra light olive oil or vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg plus 2 tablespoons lightly beaten egg
1 1/2 very large or 2 small bananas, mashed
1/2 cup bourbon whisky
3 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease 12 muffin tins.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir well to mix.
In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the oil, sugar and vanilla until well mixed. Add the egg and beat until light, then reduce mixer speed and beat in the mashed banana and bourbon. By hand, stir in the flour mixture and the water just until mixed. Pour the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes. If you like, sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips down the center of the loaf before baking. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan.

Banana-Oat Walnut Bread

Despite this being called a dessert blog, I don’t make dessert all the time. I might want dessert all the time, but I simply don’t have enough calories allotted to eat everything I want. So, I improvise. I fulfill my desire to create by adding a chock-full of healthy ingredients into what could otherwise be dessert masquerading as healthy food. This, is actually good for you. Bananas, bran, oatmeal and walnuts. No better way to put your digestive system to work.

Of course, the downside to using no fat and less sugar is that you get something that tastes like health food. I probably tweaked the recipe a little too much, but I’m going to reproduce the original so you know what to do.

Banana-Oat Walnut Bread
Makes one 9×5 loaf
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup white sugar (I used 1/3 cup)
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/3 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I omitted this)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup bran)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Spray a bread pan with non-stick cooking spray, and lightly dust with flour.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in bananas, applesauce, milk, oil and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture, mixing just until blended. Fold in walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake in preheated pan until golden and a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour. Turn bread out onto a wire rack and let cool.

Zucchini Bread

Nothing makes me feel better about chowing down dessert when I know there’s two cups worth of zucchini in there. Not having a grater has really put a damper on my carrot cake-making ambitions, but I randomly decided that I am going to ignore the thought of mincing a vegetable by hand and go ahead anyway.

I tried a couple of techniques in order to cut up the zucchini as fine as possible with as little effort. I first tried cutting the zucchini into the thinnest medallions I could, then stacked them up and then chopped through them both vertically and horizontally. This didn’t always result in the smallest pieces, so I had to rock the knife back and forth to get it smaller. Next, I tried doing it like how I would mince an onion (slideshow from Serious Eats here). I’d say the latter method worked better; the pieces were more evenly sized for sure. Surprisingly, it didn’t take too long and it was even kind of relaxing.

I would personally reduce the sugar by maybe 1/3 to 1/2 cup because it tasted too one-note sweet to me. Perhaps that problem might be mitigated with the addition of nutmeg. Also, I didn’t have two loaf pans so I used a 9-inch round cake pan and baked for 60 minutes. My cake ended up a little dry though not burned so perhaps the bake time could be shortened by 10 minutes — though it could’ve been because I simply didn’t use very much fat in the recipe.

Zucchini Bread

Makes 1 9-inch round cake or two 8×5 loaves
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Zucchini Bread
Adapted from several sources

Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins

3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease one 9-inch round pan liberally. Alternatively, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners or grease two 8×5 loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil, applesauce and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using.

Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.