After growing up in the northwest with a large garden, I still haven’t gotten used to summers without a glut of zucchini to find uses for. If you’ve ever tried growing zucchini, you know exactly what I mean: even two plants can leave you floundering in squash for a good portion of the summer.
Our garden always had at least eight zucchini plants–one fateful year, that number jumped to eleven! I’d say there’s a good reason for growing so many zucchini, but what it really boils down to is this: the plants came in an 8-pack. My mother, ever frugal, was unable to just put six of them in the compost heap to fend for themselves, so into the soil they went. I inherited her pro-life tendencies when it comes to plants, though mercifully have learned to give extras away rather than burden myself with squashageddon.
This year, I learned something crazy about gardening in coastal Georgia, though: zucchinis don’t like it here. I know, right? How is that even possible? But between the sandy soil and relentless heat and humidity, my three little plants suffered from what could only be described as “failure to thrive” before finally withering away and disappearing. I’d never seen anything like it.
Fortunately, I gave away the remaining plants to a friend, who has been dutifully tending them much more attentively than I. I got a few zucchinis from her, and for the first time in my life, was happy to take them. Even the overpriced (i.e. not free) zucchinis at the farmer’s market are tempting this year. What is wrong with the world?
My strange circumstances aside, I know many of you are swimming in squash this time of year. Accordingly, I have a recommendation for you, straight from my childhood: The Zucchini Cookbook.
Straight from 1983, this book is a gem. Borne, I suspect, from necessity, there are recipes for zucchini for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No fancy ingredients, no photos, no fuss. The famed zucchini chocolate cake recipe from this book uses margarine. Margarine! The Zucchini Cookbook is humble food personified, easygoing and unapologetic as the northwest. I’m smitten.
Our copy was a gift from a great-aunt to my mother when she first arrived in Seattle. I’m sure she regarded it with some bemusement, a quirky curio from the web-footed, nordic-sweater-wearing, tree-hugging branch of the family. One fateful day, though, fifteen years later, the book became indispensable when zucchinis started pouring in from our first garden. From that day forth, zucchini chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese icing became our calling card. It’s the only real use for those three-foot long truncheons that appear after a day’s neglect in zucchini harvesting, and even works well converted to a gluten free chocolate zucchini cake.
After all that buildup, am I going to provide you with the legendary zucchini chocolate cake recipe? Please don’t be mad, but no, I’m not. Perhaps someday, when I get my hands on a monster zucchini. In the meantime, you’ll have to get The Zucchini Cookbook!
You see, it came down to this: I wanted a gluten free zucchini chocolate cake in a bad way, cream cheese icing and all, but I also wanted to eat it for breakfast. And what is a muffin if not breakfast-appropriate cake? Accordingly, the letter of the original recipe was completely ignored, but the spirit translated into these little muffins before you today.
I dialed back the sugar and the fat, subbed oil and rice milk in place of the margarine and sour milk, and added a little melted chocolate for richness. Naturally, mini chocolate chips had to happen as well, because, mini chocolate chips! You could even make these vegan if you want with an egg replacer of your choice–just let the finished muffins rest overnight before digging in for optimum texture. These are a new staple in my summer repetoire, and I hope they’ll find a similar place in your rotation.
- 200g (1 1/3 packed c.) grated zucchini
- 145g (1 c.) buckwheat flour
- 45g (1/3 c.) tapioca starch
- 45g (1/3 c.) white rice flour
- 100g (1/2 c.) sugar
- 25g (1/3 c.) cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. guar gum
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 oz. melted semisweet chocolate
- 65g (1/3 c.) oil
- 175g (3/4 c.) nondairy milk (I used rice)
- 1/3 c. mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350F and line 12 muffin tins with paper cups.
- Whisk dry ingredients (buckwheat flour through salt) in a bowl. Add remaining wet ingredients except zucchini and stir until a thick batter forms. Pour in zucchini and chocolate chips and mix in thoroughly. Batter will be fairly thick.
- Portion batter into prepared muffin tins and bake 23 minutes, until muffins test done. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before eating.
- I like these best refrigerated, not warm. You can also wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze in a Ziploc bag.