If yours is a remarkable long-term memory, you’ll recall from previous posts our hands being full since changing not only stations, but states and time zones as well. Between time with our realtor, scouting temporary homes and new training/career adventures — him at his new base, me with the county WIC program at Camp Lejeune — we struggle to find time for much else.
Relaxation is a noun we hope to work into our vocabulary very soon.
In the meantime, I admit it’s an immense relief to once again have a job. However, the terrific news makes for even more frenzy. And after a year of unemployment, a year of being home the entire day to prepare all meals and desserts, re-acclimatization hasn’t come easily.
To the rescue, a bounty of summer zucchini and a handful of basic ingredients I always have on hand.
I could sense the apprehension in his voice when he mumbled: “Zucchini in dessert?” Having snacked on many of my grandma and aunt’s summer chocolate-chocolate chip zucchini quick breads, experience was on my side. I was fairly confident there was nothing to worry about.
Tender and rich with chocolate flavor, softly scented with cinnamon and ginger, these cakelets earned his enthusiastic stamp of approval, with and without the intense, deep, rich salted chocolate sauce. Though as I’m sure you can imagine, the topping certainly didn’t hurt.
As for my thoughts, I loved the ingredient simplicity and ease of preparation. The cakelets reminded me of what I grew up eating, but also satisfied my desire to have healthful treats on hand. Even the lily-gilding salted chocolate sauce kept within the nutritional lines.
Two keepers here. Both perfect to make on a Saturday or Sunday, stocking up for the coming work week.
In-season zucchini are not likely to vanish anytime soon, so you could make a batch next week, tomorrow, right now. You could even do all of the above and store extras tightly packed in the freezer.
The sauce can be made ahead as well: store it in the refrigerator and then let come to room temperature before using. If salted chocolate sauce isn’t your thing, or you feel like something a bit more refreshing, we quite enjoyed a mixture of light brown sugar, lime zest and tangy sour cream.
I could picture these as a great snack to fuel up on long hikes, or as thoughtful little sweets to gift away to family, friends or coworkers. For us, they served as a dessert to wind down with after long days on the job.
I think the forty-hour work routine is coming back to me just fine.
Chocolate Zucchini Cakelets with Salted Chocolate Sauce [makes 12 to 14]
As a substitute for 1 c self-rising flour, place 1 1/2 t baking powder and 1/2 t salt in a measuring cup. Add all-purpose flour to equal 1 c total. You may want to decrease or omit the extra 1/2 t salt added to the dry ingredients.
2 c grated zucchini, from about 2 medium — if using 1 large, peel and remove the seeds
3 c minus 1 1/2 T self-rising flour, see note above
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t good-quality cinnamon
1/2 t powdered ginger
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c plain yogurt
1 c turbinado (or white granulated) sugar
3 whole eggs
2 t pure vanilla extract
Salted chocolate sauce, see recipe below
Line a colander with a clean cloth or paper towel. Add the grated zucchini and sprinkle a pinch of salt over top. Weigh it down with a small plate and a heavy can, leave to drain 20 minutes, then gather up the edges of the towel and squeeze out the moisture. If you’re wary about adding salt, simply put the grated zucchini in a towel and wring out very well.
Heat the oven to 350° F.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, mixed spice and salt. In another bowl, combine the olive oil, yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla and drained, grated zucchini. Mix the dry and wet mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners or spray well with cooking spray. Spoon in your mixture so each cup is about 3/4 full. You may need to bake a second batch.
Bake the cakelets approximately 40 to 50 minutes, or until a sharp knife or cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
Serve warm — plain with a cold glass of milk, or with a generous spoonful of the salted chocolate sauce over the top.
Adapted from BBC Good Food
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Salted Chocolate Sauce
3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 to 3/4 c turbinado (or white granulated) sugar, depending on your sweet tooth
1 c boiling water
1/2 t coarse salt
1 t pure vanilla extract, optional
In a small saucepan, add sugar and cocoa powder, and whisk until combined. Pour 1/2 c boiling water over the mixture and whisk until a completely smooth paste is formed.
Add the remaining 1/2 c water, stir, and allow the sauce to boil gently 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. It looks thin at this point, but it’ll thicken as it cools.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 1 minute longer. Add salt, to taste.
Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla, if using. Set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour to cool slightly and thicken, stirring occasionally. Spoon the sauce over cakelets to cover the tops, allowing some to drip down the sides. If not using immediately, cool sauce completely then transfer to a glass jar, cover and refrigerate.
To bring the sauce back to proper consistency later on, remove from refrigerator twenty minutes before use. If the sauce is still too thick, warm some water in a microwave-safe dish and place the jar of sauce inside briefly (making sure no water gets into the sauce).
Adapted from K Miller Photographs