Sunday, August 23, 2015

Brownies With a Surprise Green Ingredient--No, Not that One

One of the pleasures of making zucchini brownies is asking people to taste them, without saying what they are, and asking for guesses about the mystery ingredient. Yes, it's something green. No, not what you're thinking...

So how do you turn this:

into this?:

And won't you taste something green and stringy and nasty?

Not if you're using this recipe from the nice folks at King Arthur. They have you puree the zucchini in a food processor, so that it keeps the brownies moist during the baking process, and allows you to skimp on butter, which sounds kind of healthy, doesn't it? In fact, the entire batter is made in the food processor in about five minutes--couldn't be easier.

The first time I made these, I followed the directions and greased the brownie pan rather than lined it with parchment. Mistake! These brownies are loaded with sticky chocolate chips that make brownie removal a pain. The next time, I used trusty parchment, and the brownies came right out.

Also, whenever I make anything with chocolate, I always use a little of King Arthur's black cocoa--this is the stuff Oreos are made from. It gives an extra boost of chocolate richness to the results.

The brownies themselves are dense and fudgy, with a thin coat of ganache on top just to gild that lily. I can't decide which zucchini dessert I like better these days:  zucchini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting or these brownies.

Oh, well, I guess I just have to make them both!

Zucchini Brownies
(adapted from King Arthur Flour)


8 ounces zucchini (about one 8" fresh zucchini, trimmed), cut into chunks*
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. (I like to do half black cocoa and half regular cocoa)
1/2 teaspoon espresso powered optional; for enhanced chocolate flavor
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
*If you don't have a scale, 8 ounces is about 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini, lightly tamped down.

3/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream or 3 tablespoons milk

1) Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" square pan and line with parchment.  (I cut two sheets of parchment and line the pan like a plus sign, grease with Pam to glue them down, then use binder clips to keep them in place.)

2) To make the brownies: Combine the zucchini, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla in the work bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth.

3) Add the sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder, salt, and flour; process briefly, just until well combined.

4) Add the chips, and pulse several times, to break up the chips just a bit.

5) Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

6) Bake the brownies for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it; you shouldn't see any sign of wet batter. Remove the brownies from the oven, and allow them to cool completely before frosting.

7) To make the frosting: Combine the chocolate chips and milk or cream in a microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan. Heat until the milk is steaming, and the chips are soft. Remove from the heat, and stir until smooth.

8) Spread the frosting atop the brownies. Place them in the refrigerator for an hour or so, to set; then store them at room temperature, covered, for several days.  If you want to freeze the brownies, do not frost them before freezing.

Yield: 16 brownies.