Monday, September 3, 2012

Somewhere in between

Labor Day.

It's not fall or summer, but somewhere in between.  
Popsicles and sweaters are both on sale.
There are packs of Number 2 pencils and lined notebook paper on the dining table.
The whole town smells a giant backyard BBQ*.
College football and baseball are on TV at the same time.
All the real shows are still in reruns.
The kids go in the pool, and then do homework.
A bunch of people leave town, but a bunch of other people come back.
No one can name a single movie that opened this weekend.
It s 95 degrees outside.
You have a feeling that something good is coming to an end.
You are far to relaxed to care about it right at the moment.

It's pretty much the brunch of holidays.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
This recipe captures the whole "brunch-esque" zeitgeist perfectly. Texturally, it's not a cake or a quick bread, but somewhere deep and denser in between. It's got a vegetable in it, but also sufficient amounts of sugar and chocolate to render said veggies both invisible and completely useless, nutritionally. Yet the sweetness is completely secondary to the intense chocolate flavor of the stuff.  Serve for dessert? I would, with a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Goes with coffee? Perfectly. Just right for today's Labor Day brunch? Absolutely**.

2 c. shredded, unpeeled zucchini
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/3 c. sugar or honey
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. (scant) baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. espresso powder
1/3 c. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 2/3 c. flour
1 c. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used bittersweet)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

After you shred your zucchini, gently squeeze it in a clean towel to remove any extra liquid, and set aside.

Whisk the eggs, sugar, brown sugar oil, and vanilla together in a large bowl until smooth.  Combine salt, baking soda, baking powder, flour, espresso powder, and cocoa powder in a separate bowl, then add to the egg mixture, stirring gently with a spatula or wooden spoon just until combined. The batter will be very thick.

Fold in the zucchini and chocolate chips. Adding the zucchini will lighten up the batter considerably. Transfer batter to the prepared pan.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for about 15 minutes, then turn the loaf out onto the rack and  cool completely before slicing.

Cooled bread can be wrapped tightly and stored for a few days.

Click to Print this Recipe!

* An example of the delectable fare at my friend's gourmet backyard BBQ.  In keeping with the theme of this post, the event was held at 3:30 pm, so it was not quite lunch and not quite dinner, but somewhere in between. But with burgers like this, who the f#$% cared when the food was served? Not me.

** Not to mention the added benefit of using up another huge piece of squash from my garden.

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