And finally muffins up in here. Chocolate Zucchini Muffins to be precise. I think a food blog isn’t one until some sort of muffin recipe is in there but anyways I feel like I’v been in blogging detox for weeks… and it didn’t do anything to deter my wanting to get back into it. I thought by now I would have given up, found something else to spend time doing, but that hasn’t happened and I’m glad. The reason I’ve been away from my blog for a while is so I can spend time with my mom and aunt who happen to be visiting, a perfectly reasonable excuse to stop taking photos and cooking like a deranged person. I couldn’t imagine my mom’s reaction if she actually witnessed an actual blogging evening with all the photo taking, and prepping and chopping and the writing… am exhausted just by describing it here… and I’m sure my fellow bloggers can relate! it can be madness and TONS of work. But it’s awesome and very rewarding.
I chose to make something relatively straight forward yet absolutely delicious. My good friend Lauralea stopped by a few weeks ago, and gave me 2 wonderful zucchini of humongous size, am not even joking… courtesy of her mom’s garden. I’ve been watching them sit there for too long, enough! Making muffins has been on my list of things to try, and something I had promised my friend (she has a really nice blog and only recently broke 100 posts!) Phuong I would bake as soon as I found the opportunity. I was planning on making savory ones, but those will have to wait. Instead I have made these mini zucchini chocolate muffins, with dry cranberries, raisins and an assortment of nuts. They were incredibly tasty and rich! To make sure nothing would go wrong I carefully adapted (the best I could!) Thomas Keller’s blueberry muffins recipe from The Bouchon Bakery book.
This post is part of the monthly link up party Our Growing Edge. This event aims to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. This month is hosted by Marija from the amazing blog: Palachinka. Check out her beautiful work!!!
120g cake flour
6g cinnamon powder
3g baking soda
3g baking powder
75g eggs (lightly beaten)
50g heavy cream *
180g zucchini grated skin on
60g chocolate chips (60% cacao)
2g vanilla extract
1/2 lemon juice *
* I didn’t have buttermilk, so I ended up using heavy cream plus some lemon juice.
Zucchini don’t taste like much do they? specially raw. So why use them. It is a great way to impart texture and moisture into quick breads. When grating zucchini, make sure to leave the skin on. We really want those beautiful crunchy green specks to be part of the batter. Before you start prepping your ingredients, preheat your oven to 350F, allow a good hour for this.
Combine and sift together all the dry ingredients, and by sifting I mean, grabbing a whisk and combining everything in the bowl really really well. Remember to keep the sugar out. The sugar is used to cream the butter, not the flour.
Unlike most recipes I found online which suggest using vegetable oil, this one calls for butter. Using a hand or stand mixer cream the butter until it has the consistency of mayonnaise. I had to place the mixer bowl in the oven to soften the butter a bit and then continued mixing it. When the mayo consistency was reached, add the sugar and mix at low speed until it become fluffy, about 1 min.
Add the beaten eggs (beat the eggs before adding them) the buttermilk or heavy cream and the vanilla. And mix at low speed until well incorporated. About 30 seconds. We don’t want to beat it too long, we’re trying to not incorporate too much air into this mixture. Switch to the paddle attachment now and get ready to mix all the “wet” ingredients.
I added nuts, dry cranberries raisins to include some crunchy and chewy notes plus extra layers of flavors. I got this blend of nuts and dry fruit at the store which I processed in the food processor to get the nicer smaller bits. I added some flour to the mix to keep the food processor dry and allow better chopping action. Combine the dry fruit and nuts with the chocolate chips and microwave the mix for about 60 seconds. The chocolate melts and then stir this mix until it becomes an awesome chocolaty nutty fruity paste. Add this and the grated zucchini. Mix at low speed for 20 secs.
It is time to add the dry ingredients. The goal is to incorporate everything well with as little stirring as possible. We don’t want gluten to develop. We want the muffins with a nice soft crumb, not chewy. At low speed or using a spatula, simply fold everything together. You could add the dry ingredients in 2 stages, to help the folding process.
Anyway, prepare the muffin baking pan(s). Butter and flour well, even if non stick, believe me… . With a spoon or ice cream scoop, place enough batter into each mold to fill about 80% of its volume, which means, don’t fill all the way because they will rise and spill over, and you will get a funny looking top, like you see in some of mine 🙂
I used a ziplock bag as a piping bag, cutting one of the corners tips with a pair of scissors. Using a spoon proved a bit challenging and slow. The ice cream scoop might be the way to go though. This was the least enjoyable part of the process. Seemed messy and I’m trying to come up with a faster better way of doing this. If you have any ideas, please I would love to know!
Bake for about 30 minutes. I sprayed the interior of the oven with water, sprayed the top of the muffins as well so they wouldn’t bake too quickly and allow the interiors to cook properly (I have a spray bottle I always use) The interior of a muffin should be slightly moist, not dry. I would suggest sacrificing one muffin in the name of goodness, try it, adjust your cooking time/temperature. You don’t have to, but dusting these dark muffins with confectioner’s sugar just bring the wow factor up a few notches!!! so why wouldn’t anyone do this. It’s so easy!
One thing I didn’t do and I would love to try next time is allowing the batter to rest overnight so the flour has enough time to fully hydrate like the book suggests. Which is interesting. I’ve always read about quick rising goods needing to go in the oven almost right away otherwise the carbon dioxide escapes the mixture and the batter doesn’t rise. Perhaps, this is another kitchen unfounded myth? I see another kitchen science post on the way! I hope you enjoyed this post! I still have family visiting for another 2 weeks. I will be slow but I have a long lists of posts I want to get to at some point. Some really good stuff coming up! stay tuned. And thanks for visiting this other cooking blog.
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That looks seriously amazing!!!! I will definitely bring you more zucinni if you want!!!!
absolutely!!! 🙂 maybe I should try other recipes
thanks for this awesome batch btw!
Well done on your first muffins! I love the addition of fruit and nut. It’s not zucchini season over here but I will bear this recipe in mind when it is. This first muffin post would be a great addition to Our Growing Edge this month. http://bunnyeatsdesign.com/our-growing-edge/
hehe thanks! 🙂 Do you mind if I add it? same drill? add the badge to my post and fill out the info on that page?
Would love you to add it. Same drill 🙂
I think I’ve added it successfully, please let me know if I messed up! hahaha
Fantastic shot at the top . May I ask what kind of camera/lens you are using?
Thanks Janet! Of course I don’t mind sharing 🙂 I’m using a canon 5d mark II and a 50mm 1.8f canon lens. I had my camera on a tripod too, just to help me frame the shot since I’m dusting the muffins myself as well and the camera is heavy to hold with one hand hahha Now the real trick is to get a super fast exposure so I can freeze the “snow” in time. For that I’m using a 430EX II speedlite, and I’m using my white cabinets as bounce cards 🙂 The really important components are the flash unit and the lens. The camera… well, as long as it is a decent SLR body, should work just as well. Tripod is great for lower shutter speeds, but for this shot, the tripod is just so I dont have to hold the camera. Hope this helps!
Fantastic. Thank you. I am trying to upgrade from my iPhone 4S and getting people’s opinions. I appreciate the input. 😀
welcome, let me know if you have more questions!
Looks amazing! Great post! the photos you take are amazing!
thank you! so glad you liked them 🙂 so Australian desserts, huh? 🙂 nice blog! I’ve never been to Australia, it’s on my list!
Beautiful first shot 😉
thank you sir! of course, it takes one look at your site to know that food photography can be taken to another level 🙂
Wonderful post! Gorgeous photographs and your recipe is a must.
thank you! so glad you enjoyed it!! it was really fun putting this together 🙂
Welcome back & congrats on your first muffin!!!!! May I say, they look awesome, especially the first shot, blew my mind right away! Great job!
I use the same lens as you, but the camera body & (mainly) my skill are no where near your level, lots to learn from your wonderful posts. Thank you.
thank you for being the inspiration behind this post! 🙂
Btw I can relate to how time consuming it can be to set a post up. Kudos to those more organized than myself!
Yeah, this post for example took about 9 hours to put together… I did about 2 hours of cooking and photos, then the next day, a good 2-3 hours of photo editing, and then the rest went into the writing and design of the post… im exhausted again! If I only took one photo of the final product and the rest was just writing.. I could get a post ready in a couple of hours maybe? but i love taking photos and documenting the experience too. Yes, I like eating the stuff too 🙂
It does take a long time! If only there was more time in the day!
this could easily be a full time job!
These are some beautiful muffins, Paul, whether they’re your first or 10th batch. I made a zucchini chocolate loaf last year and was surprised at how flavorful it was. I bet yours is every bit as good. Your posts are always so well written and photographed. Your hard work is certainly evident.
John! it’s been a while 🙂 thank you for your nice comments! Glad to hear form you again! I made a zucchini loaf about a year ago as well! that was the first I tried making a quick bread, I think there’s a blog entry in there somewhere… I hope no one can find it though hahaa, but it turned out pretty decent. I have some zucchini left, trying to come up with something to do with it, if you have any ideas, please, let me know!
hahaha! I didn’t mean to show off! hush! hahaha 🙂 I’ve made some quick breads and some cakes before, but never muffins, and if you check their tops, they are a bit weird… not rounded like you see in properly baked muffins, and to get that.. I need to adjust a few things! But they tasted really good, and the texture was pretty good. Thank you baconbiscuit! 🙂
Yeah, yeah, Sooooo improperly baked. You should really be ashamed of yourself 😉
I’ll trash the post and start over! 😉 hahahah
Welcome back, Paul! Great photos in this post. I’ve never baked anything with zucchini in it, so perhaps it’s time I’ll try. 9 hours on a single post… What dedication! I’d like to include better photos in my posts, but that’s just too much time.
I used two tablespoons instead of an icecream scoop for transferring the batter, that worked pretty well (as long as you’ve both hands to work with), perhaps because it’s more flexible?
I don’t understand the instruction to preheat the ingredients to 350F for an hour? Did you mean the oven?
You picked a pretty complicated recipe for your first batch of muffins, but I bet they were great!
Stefan! It’s been so long! where have you been?? still boating?? I’ve been reading your posts from that boating trip, how fun, huh? Amazing stuff!
Well, the 9 hour post is probably because I’m slow at editing the photos hahah Some posts go quicker that this one though, but taking photos can be very time consuming, I enjoy it though, so I don’t mind it. I’ll check my wording on the preheating thing, I’m sure I made a mistake here and there… and yes, I meant the oven. I don’t think zucchini adds any special flavoring to the muffins, at least nothing noticeable by me, they aid in keeping the muffins more moist and light perhaps? Anyways, glad to hear form you. thanks for stopping by!
I’ve been busy with the boating and participating in the gay pride parade. I’ve been posting a lot less than usual, and it’s also been hard to keep up with other blogs. Now I’m back for a bit before travelling Down Under. I’ll probably schedule some posts as I don’t expect much Wifi coverage where I’ll be going.
sounds great! maybe taking a break from blogging isn’t that bad, I won’t be able to post the end of the month since I have family visiting and a few more things work related, but can’t wait. I have all this post drafts I have started, and they are piling up 🙂 Enjoy your travels!
I’ve corrected the wording about preheating, you were right! thanks for catching that!
You have such a great eye for details that I was confused at first — but then I thought about preheating eggs to 375 degrees and thought that could not be right 😉
yeah, those eggs would have been extremely interesting to mix into the batter hahaahha, thanks again for catching that!
These look amazing! If you have a lot of leftover zuccinni make some veggie noodles! Its a great way to use them up!
thanks Raechel! I’ve read about using zucchini as noodles, any particular sauce to go with them? do you blanche them? or sauté them first? 🙂
Your first muffins were certainly a hit. I would have loved to try them, by all means. Thanks so much for sharing!
thank you so much Liz!!!
I have to say that I really enjoyed reading this post, the photos are amazing and they just take you step by step until you get really hungry 🙂 Congratulations on your first muffins 🙂
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Hi Jane, thanks so much! so glad you like the work and nice to meet you. I don’t see a problem. so you’re looking for beta testers for your app? does it run on the iphone? let me know, and we’ll go from there 🙂 How did you find my blog if you don’t mind me asking? always curious hehehe 🙂
These look and sound fantastic! I’m always pleasantly surprised at how well zucchini works in baked goods.
Beautiful .. this I just have to try … after my trip to NYC. You photos are eye-candy to me … stunningly beautiful. I love muffins.
Thanks Viveka! hope you had fun in NYC and that it wasn’t too hot! it is hot here in LA
If you haven’t said it was your first time, I’d never guess! These look absolutely stunning and delicious!
Love the photos and the whole blog!!!
Thanks Marija!! I’m more of a savory type of person, but every now and then I try making something sweet. I love baking bread though 🙂 Love your blog too! So impressive.
I’m still young but as I am growing up, learning how to bake, I have found experience helps me with the speed of filling the muffin tins. Ever since I was young I have been making muffins at least once every couple months. I can now whip some up in no time using the spoons to fill them.
I love zucchini loaf breads, and this looks delicious! thanks for the recipe 😀
and beautiful photos!
Thank you! and you’re welcome. Following your blog now. Would love to go visit london sometime!