zucchinichocolate

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (Healthier)

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These were a pleasant surprise tonight! While I’ve never made anything quite like this before, I mainly just wanted to use up some zucchini that I had frozen last fall (see “What To Do With Zucchini“).  We are attempting a No Spend Challenge for the month of February, with the intent to use a lot of the food currently taking up space in our pantry and freezer.

The hint of cloves/cinnamon make this recipe work very well! This is definitely a keeper.  If muffins aren’t your preference, this would also make a good chocolate zucchini loaf, or bundt cake.  Just increase the cooking time to ~55 minutes.

zucchinichocolate2

 This was a new (to me) recipe, slightly modified to suit the ingredients I had (and didn’t).  I actually didn’t have any honey on hand, so (right or wrong) I substituted a mix of white sugar and water.  I’ve also been experimenting recently trying to substitute palm sugar in place of brown sugar, just for kicks- I will say I think it worked here.

PREP TIME: 15 min    COOK TIME: 40 min   TOTAL TIME: 55 min    YIELD: 8
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup of plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (or mix 3/4 tsp of white vinegar with regular milk, and allow 3-5 minutes to sour)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups approx shredded zucchini (if frozen, be sure to thaw and drain excess liquid)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In large bowl combine oil, yogurt, honey, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk and mix until well blended.
  3. In separate bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add dry ingredient mixture gradually to wet ingredients, mix.
  5. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips until just combined.
  6. Pour into greased muffin tins, bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.
bbqcupcake1

BBQ-Themed Cupcakes: Sliders

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We celebrated a milestone birthday recently in our home.  Instead of heading out somewhere, we decided to capitalize on the nice weather, invite a few people over, and have a BBQ at home.   Of course no birthday party is quite complete without cake!  And what more fitting for a BBQ, than BBQ-themed cupcakes… I came across a photo of the idea from a general ‘cupcake ideas’ google search, and I’m not actually sure who specifically to give credit to for it… Google is great for inspiration though!

For “Slider” Cupcakes you’ll need:

– Chocolate cake (like this one)
– Yellow cake
– Buttercream frosting, 1 part dyed red (think ‘Tomato’), and 1 part dyed yellowy/orange (think “Cheese”)
– Coconut with green food colouring (think “Lettuce”)
– Ziploc bags to use for decorating

Assembling your “Sliders”:

1. Bake chocolate cupcakes according to the recipe.  {I would recommend not using a full recipe, unless you are feeding tonnes of people, or you can eat an unhealthy amount of chocolate cupcake yourself before they reach their ‘best before’ date… }.  Bake those cupcakes in cupcake wrappers of some sort; the wrapper doesn’t need to be fancy because you’re going to rip it off anyway.  I suggest doing it this way, because it looks a bit more realistic.  Oh, and only fill the cupcake wrapper about 25% full… and note, that the cooking time should be adjusted because they’re thinner than the average cupcake.

2. Bake yellow cupcakes according to the recipe (I’ll post a good recipe that I’ve used soon).  For these, I don’t recommend using cupcake wrappers.  Instead, grease your muffin tin well; when you take them out (which isn’t necessarily easy), they look more like hamburger buns.  Do what I forgot to, and sprinkle a few sesame seeds on the top BEFORE baking (if you try it afterwards, they don’t stick).

3.  Once everything is out of the oven and cooled.  Get out your coconut (you don’t need very much per slider).  Add a 2-3 drops of green food colouring and mix in with a fork.  Voila, “lettuce”.

4. Whip up your buttercream frosting and divide into 2 bowls.  Colour one of them tomatoey red with food colouring, and the other cheesy yellow/orange.  Spoon those frostings into separate Ziploc bags, and cut a small piece of one corner off- now you’re ready to assemble.  Or I suppose, if you’re one of those fancy types, put your frosting into a designated piping bag, and select a somewhat wide tip to use.

5.  Now the fun part, slice those yellow cupcakes in half.  Pipe some yellow/orange frosting around the bottom you just cut.  Place the chocolate cupcake layer.  Then pipe the red frosting, sprinkle with green coconut, and top with the other half of your yellow cupcake.  Sliders.

Best Chocolate Cake

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Just as the title suggests, this is the best.  And you can finally stop bothering with anything else.  Yes, as far as chocolate cake goes, it really is that good.

It’s about that time of the year where there is a birthday or two happening.  We recently celebrated one last weekend; of course chocolate cupcakes were on the menu (a separate post about those is yet to come about those as they were SO much fun to decorate)…Not to brag (well alright, I might be bragging a little…) but I even had a text from a party guest the following day asking if they could come by for leftover cupcakes.

I’ll use this recipe for cakes and cupcakes, whichever suits the occasion.

PREP TIME: 15 min  COOK TIME: 35 min   TOTAL TIME: 50 min   YIELD: 3–9"
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (non hydrogenated) margarine, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream
  • 1 1/3 cups boiling water
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream brown sugar and margarine. Add eggs and beat well after each. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Blend in vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt); mix well.
  4. Mix dry ingredients alternately with sour cream to creamed mixture. Mix on low just until combined.
  5. Stir in water until blended.
  6. Pour into three greased and floured 9-in. round baking pans for a cake, or into cupcake wrappers for cupcakes.  Bake for 35 minutes (for cake), or 20 minutes (for cupcakes).
  7. Cool in pans for approximately 10 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  8. Frost with butter cream icing, or your choice!
dblchocolate2

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This recipe is an old one but definitely an all-time favorite.  There’s nothing healthy about it either, it’s just straight-up sweet chocolatey goodness.  And the perfect thing to wind down the weekend with for some easy Sunday baking.

This used to be my go-to recipe for bringing to work to share with colleagues, if I felt the urge to bake.  I say “used to be…” because ever since I found myself married, I rarely have baking to bring to work anymore as it seems to disapear at home somewhere.

PREP TIME: 15 min    COOK TIME: 10 min   TOTAL TIME: 25 min   YIELD: 36
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, or butter if you must
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 package (or 2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 ºF.
  2. Beat margarine, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. (Hint: don’t melt the margerine/butter! It seems to cause the cookies to end up flat as pancakes.
  3. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt, then stir into margarine mixture until well blended. Mix in Chocolate chips.
  4. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes or just until set. Transfer to cooling rack.
froyofrapp1

Frozen Yogurt Frappuccino

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Something about the sunshine and warm weather makes me CRAVE a mocha chocolate frappuccino from Starbucks.

Though the cost and questionable calorie intake is a bit of a deterrent, I will admit.  This spring I’ve discovered making my own equivalent at home is easy, cheap, delicious, and maybe slightly better for you than some alternatives out there that contain heavy cream.  What’s the difference with this one?  Frozen Yogurt (ice cream’s ”lighter” cousin)!

I’ve seen some other recipes floating around the internet for home-made frappuccinos calling for Xanthan gum to prevent separation of the ice/liquids.  I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure where to even get Xanthan gum, and I’m generally not a fan of shopping for a product like this where I only really would have one use for it.  But I’ve found with using frozen yogurt, that the mixture doesn’t separate anyway, so no need!

PREP TIME: 10 min    COOK TIME: 0 min    TOTAL TIME: 10 min    YIELD: 1
Ingredients:
  • 1 single serving espresso or strong coffee (I use a Tassimo for this, but a french press, espresso machine, or regular coffee machine works well too. Consider freezing single servings of coffee in trays for quick future use as well)
  • Ice cubes to fill your cup
  • 3-4 modest scoops of chocolate frozen yogurt (or maybe be adventurous and try some other flavours)
  • Approx 1/2 cup of skim milk
Directions:
  1. Combine, blend, enjoy!
  1. A single-shot Magic Bullet type of mixer works very well for making one of these at a time. 
chocchip

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This is and has been my go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies since, well, really I started baking for myself at all;  I consider this one tried, tested and proven.

Cookie perfection in this case, to me means not overcooked, slightly chewy chocolately goodness, mmmmmmmmm…  The key to that in this case is not to overbake.

PREP TIME: 15 min    COOK TIME: 8 min   TOTAL TIME: 23 min    YIELD: 18
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, NOT melted (or substitute butter, softened)
  • 1 cup semi-packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 ºF
  2. Beat margarine, sugars, vanilla, and eggs until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix in flour, salt, baking soda (by hand) until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop by heaping teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just lightly browned. Transfer to cooling rack.