Happy Sweet-Tooth Friday! It’s Christine, and today I’ve got a great healthy recipe for Chocolate “Thin Mint” Cupcakes. These are so decadent and moist; nobody will ever believe they are made from zucchini! I think these cupcakes are my favorite NMA dessert to date, but I only got to sample one because of an unusual visitor!
This is a perfect way to use up some zucchini that’s overflowing the farmer’s market stands or in your own garden! Zucchini is technically a fruit, related to both watermelon and cucumber. It’s a great source of vitamin C! In baking, one of the best things about using zucchini is actually what you can leave out: the water and fiber rich pulp easily stand in for fat and extra flour.
If you’ve never done much baking without eggs, beware! Without the risk of salmonella from raw eggs, the batter becomes a free-for-all! I could barely get these cupcakes in the oven I was so engrossed with licking the beaters. In this recipe a banana performs the binding that eggs would. Usually I use very old, almost black bananas in baking for the best flavor, but here I chose a slightly under ripe one so that the banana flavor could stay in the background.
In this recipe I used two of my secret weapons for flavor: instant coffee and liqueur. Chocolate and coffee are best friends! You probably won’t pick up on the coffee taste, but it blends with cocoa for a more complex chocolaty taste. Liqueurs also add a more complex flavor that I feel concentrated extracts just don’t deliver. The creme de menthe here gives a mint that is light and refreshing, far from the dreaded toothpaste effect.
For the icing, I melted unsweetened chocolate with more creme de menthe and local honey. I used Cybee’s Honey from Harford County, MD that I got at a Baltimore farmer’s market. Did you know local honey can help you fight your seasonal allergies? The small amounts of pollen the bees collect act almost like an antibiotic in your body, letting you build up immunity rather than just attacking it with histamines. Cool, huh?
A Surprise Guest
These smelled so good in the oven and I wasn’t the only one who thought so! You won’t believe what happened next! I set the cupcakes on a rack to cool. (Cooling baked goods on a rack lets air circulate all around them, so the cupcakes don’t keep cooking and get tough on the bottom.) I grabbed one warm cupcake and headed to the living room to type up the recipe from my scribbled notes. After about 20 minutes I noticed a scuffling in the kitchen. At first I thought it was the wind blowing the blinds against the window, but when I went to investigate I was in for a huge surprise!
A SQUIRREL was in my kitchen nibbling on the cupcakes!! He had ripped a hole in the screen and crawled in a window that was only open a couple of inches (You can see the window behind the picture of the ingredients). When I entered the kitchen I startled him, so he grabbed a piece of baking chocolate and ran across the kitchen, knocking over plenty of bottles on his way! Then the squirrel just sat on the sill, happily nibbling on his piece of chocolate. My phone was on the other side of the kitchen, so I didn’t know what to do! I ran and got the camera and snapped a few shots before he bid farewell.
I had to throw away the cupcakes he sampled, but at least I got to have a taste of one! In the end, the squirrel’s visit was a mixed blessing. Even though I lost a batch of cupcakes and he made a big mess, I finally gave my kitchen the spring cleaning it badly needed! (Believe me, I was up to my elbows in bleach!) Plus, I am happy to know that the scent of these cupcakes wafting out the window is enough to entice a wild beast! Well, at least a wild critter!
Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes Recipe
Here’s the recipe, adapted from a VegWeb recipe for Benz Zucchini Bread:
1-1 1/2 cups (packed) shredded zucchini, about 1 medium
1 green to yellow banana
3/4 cup demerara sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tbs instant coffee
3 tbs creme de menthe
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
4 tbs (1/4 cup) flax seed, ground
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
For the icing:
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 tbs coconut oil
2 tbs creme de menthe
3-4 tbs honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
big pinch of salt
1 tbs canola oil, if needed
Preheat the oven of 350 degrees.
Peel and shred the zucchini with a hand grater or food processor, set aside.
Combine the dry ingredients, set aside.
In a mixer, combine the wet ingredients (except for the zucchini) and beat until just about uniform. Sometimes the banana stays a little bit lumpy and that’s ok. Stir in dry ingredients, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Stir in the zucchini. Use an ice cream scoop and divide into cupcake cups. I got 15 cupcakes, but no joke, I ate a significant amount of batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until they are nicely domed and tops spring back with a tiny touch. You can also test to see if a toothpick comes out clean. Mine were done at 18 minutes.
For the icing, put the coconut oil and chocolate in a microwave bowl for 60 seconds. Stir, then microwave for 30 seconds. Repeat with decreasing times until smooth. Stir in the creme de menthe, honey, vanilla, and salt. The alcohol will make the chocolate “seize up”, keep stirring and add the extra tbs of canola oil if needed. The icing is very rich like a ganache, so just spread a thin layer on each cupcake. Garnish with a fresh mint leaf.
OK that’s it, enjoy! Don’t forget to close the windows when you bake these because they are just too tempting!
My 30-Day Challenge
Finally, before I go I wanted to commit to this 30 Day Challenge. I flaked out with the last one but now I am ready with some more drastic changes. I am not going to consume any caffeine or dairy. I don’t think either has been a friend to me in a long time. I am going to drink 64 oz of water everyday. I am not going to eat any peanut butter for the next 30 days. I know it’s good fat and has protein, but I eat way more than a serving EVERY day. I need a break. I also am going to do cardio for 30 minutes 4 times a week and the Core Performance stretches for 30 minutes 3 times a week. I really miss the discipline of training for a race so I am really excited to get back into an exercise routine. I just joined a gym so I’ll update you next week with how it’s going!
Now that I am officially committed, I’ll see you next Sweet-Tooth Friday. Stay sweet and watch out for squirrels!