Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ChezCindy: Zucchini Walnut Muffins

Zucchini Walnut Muffins

Wondrous, versatile zucchini.  Now, zucchini is not my favorite vegetable when it stands alone, but I do appreciate that this humble vegetable can serve as a simple side dish for dinner; add interest to a breakfast frittata; or surprising texture to sweet dessert. 

Once again, I was cleaning out my vegetable drawer.  Once again, I had too many vegetables that needed to be eaten.  (I really need to learn to pace my purchasing.  Just wait until the Farmer’s Markets get into full swing!)  I had green beans, broccolini, a few mushrooms, and zucchini.  The first 3 were easy.  Steam, sauté, eat them with dinner that night.  But for the zucchini, I had plans of a sweet treat. 

I have several dessert-type recipes for zucchini.  My favorite is a Zucchini Pecan Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting.  It is amazingly delicious.  But it takes a bit more effort to put together and I wanted something that took less time to complete.  Zucchini Walnut Muffins were perfect.  Quick to put together and only 25 minutes to bake. 

This recipe for zucchini muffins can either be a muffin or a cupcake.  It truly resembles a carrot cake, but using zucchini instead of carrot.  If frosted with cream cheese icing, it definitely tastes similar to carrot cake.  But when I want something a bit more "healthy", I forgo the icing and call it a muffin.  This way, I get to eat cake for breakfast. 

Zucchini Walnut Muffins
2 cups toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup currants
2 tablespoons brandy
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
4 cups shredded zucchini
2 tablespoons minced candied ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 12 large muffin cups with paper liners.  Toast the walnuts in the oven for 5-7 minutes.  Set aside to cool. 
In a microwave safe bowl, cover the currants with the brandy, heat in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Set aside to cool, drain. 
In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; whisk together.  In a large mixing bowl, add the oil, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and eggs; whisk to combine. 
Squeeze the excess moisture from the shredded zucchini.  Stir the walnuts, currants, zucchini, and ginger into the wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 small batches, stirring each time to combine.  Spoon the batter into the muffin cups.  Bake in oven for 25 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool. 

To make this even more healthy, add 1-2 tablespoons of ground flax seed and/or ground wheat bran. 

Can be frosted with cream cheese icing.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to your favorite recipe to match the spice of this cupcake.

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