Saturday, 14 May 2011

Chocolate and Zucchini/Chocolate et Courgette

 I have just returned from the supermarket where I picked up a bargain pair of bright yellow sandals which are currently under debate as to their design merit or otherwise by all of the members of my family. I brought them because they were a bit of fun and they kinda lifted my spirits while on a mundane shop with their ostentatious yellow swirls. Maybe it is the fact they were verging on the absurd that they appealed...hey...after working with 'fashion' for so many years I have decided that 'whats hot and whats not' is very much in the eye of the beholder SO I will wear my mad yellow sandals that I picked up brand new for one and a half euros [less than Liliana's tooth fairy money!!] and I shall enjoy wearing them because they are frivolous, fun and because I like them...maybe this is a transition period of my fashion life and I have prematurely reached  the 'purple hat' stage!!
Enough about the shoes already....time for a recipe. This blog is prompted by an email I received from the lovely Maggie after she served her family my 'Chocolate and Zucchini Cake' over Easter.
"Pride of place at tea time was the chocolate and zucchini cake which everyone loved. Daughter in law 1, who is a very keen cook, guessed the zucchini element, but the others all pooh poohed her. The meal fell into total disorder when Son 1's 4-year-old twins threw a tantrum after being refused a second slice, they loved it so much. Anyway each of the three sons cut the remaining cake into thirds to take home and I had only had the tiniest piece...... I shall have to make it again a bit quickly"
There is something about this recipe that seems to appeal to people. I am not sure if it is just that it makes a hefty hearty cake or if it is the fact that includes a vegetable that would not normally be used in combination with sweet or if it is that once one knows what is in it one is so pleasantly surprised by the result that the memory lingers...

I served this cake all summer long last year and intend to do the same again this is a great standby birthday cake for a table of plenty, can be paired with stewed fruit, fresh strawberries, served with creme anglais, yogurt, creme fraiche or runny versatile is this cake and it is as good as next day as first day. Not too sweet and light of crumb it is a easy fail-proof favourite.
The last time I made this cake was a couple of weeks ago as a birthday cake for a lovely female guest we had staying for the weekend...a sceptical audience of fairly straight male eaters tried the first mouthful with wrinkled up noses only to then give it the thumbs up and launch into the remains of the slice with renewed vigor.
This recipe comes from the cookbook of the same name 'Chocolate and Zucchini' which is a great find. My daughter carried one carefully wrapped from France to Washington D.C. last year as a gift to her host family and they all made this cake together and had a great time doing it...culinary sharing across the it is American style...
 So if you are a gardener and have a plot or allotment that contains ample courgettes that are crying out be picked and eaten before becoming dreaded marrows then give this a try...

Chocolate & Zucchini Cake from Clothilde Dusoulier's book 'Chocolate and Zucchini'

- 240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 60 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 180 grams (1 scant cup) light brown sugar (I use unrefined cane sugar)
- 115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, or 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules or 2 tablespoons strong cooled coffee -- this is just to deepen the chocolate flavor, you won't taste it in the finished product
- 3 large eggs
- 350 grams (2 cups) unpeeled grated zucchini, from about 1 1/2 medium zucchini
- 160 grams (1 cup) good-quality bittersweet chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate
- Confectioner's sugar (optional)

Serves 12.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 25-cm (10-inch) round spring form pan or a 22-cm (8 1/2-inch) square pan.

1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand in a large mixing bowl), beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the vanilla, coffee, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much.

3. Add the rest of the flour mixture into the egg batter. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.

4. Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without over mixing. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and level the surface.

5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen, and unclasp the sides of the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with icing sugar or ice with chocolate if desired but doesn't need it...

 NB. I cannot for the life of me delete one of these you have it twice!

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