Good Eats and Sweet Treats from My Small Boston Kitchen

Zucchini Bread with Chocolate and Walnuts

This month’s Secret Recipe Challenge totally threw me for a loop – I was assigned a blog written entirely in Danish! I’ve encountered plenty of different kinds of blogs throughout my time participating in the SRC, but never a blog in another language. My assigned blog New Yorker By Heart, written by Birthe, has dozens upon dozens of recipes – all kinds of recipes – really something for everyone, so I knew I’d be able to settle on something that I’d really enjoy. I was a bit overwhelmed at first because there was just SO much to choose from, but once I decided what kind of recipe I was looking for, I found something perfect in no time.

I’ve been really into baking with local, seasonal ingredients lately. I happened to have a zucchini in the fridge, so when I found the recipe for Quashkage Med Chokolade og Valnodder (in English, Squash Cake with Chocolate and Walnuts), I was psyched! I hadn’t made zucchini bread in a long time, so it seemed fitting.

I made a lot of small tweaks to the original recipe, mostly because I wanted to convert the measurements from metric to US. I tried to make the best approximation for conversions, but also added a few changes of my own – like substituting some whole wheat pastry flour for the all purpose flour, adding cinnamon, and increasing the amount of chocolate, walnuts and sugar.

The end result? Not quite what I was hoping for, but it could be transformed into something great with a few more tweaks. I think I lost a certain something when I made the conversions – probably because I tried to mess with the measurements too much!  The bread was good and very moist, but the flavor didn’t wow me – it was just plain old zucchini bread, and I wanted GREAT zucchini bread. Maybe I should have stuck with Birthe’s exact recipe!

Another issue – and this is a total bakers mistake here – the very middle of the loaf wasn’t completely cooked. As much as it pains me to say that, it’s true! The baking time seemed really short, so I added a few extra minutes, but it still should have stayed in the oven longer. It’s a deceiving recipe, because when you test it with a toothpick for doneness, the toothpick comes out clean. If I try this again, I will definitely add extra time, even if the toothpick tells me otherwise!

Bottom line: I need to be more precise with conversions, and trust my gut. Though the toothpick came out clean and the bread was very golden brown, I thought I should leave it in longer and I didn’t. If I make this bread again, I’d probably decrease the buttermilk by 1/4 cup, or potentially remove an egg. And definitely, add more cinnamon! But the amount of chocolate and walnuts was spot on (though next time I’d mix those in with the flour so they don’t sink to the bottom) – and I think the chocolate and nuts really help to enhance the flavor.

Recipes like this are hard for me to handle, because I never like to produce a product I’m not thrilled with. At the same time, mistakes  help us all to grow in the kitchen, so it’s really a blessing in disguise. Plus – you better believe I still ate this ENTIRE loaf! Just because it wasn’t perfect, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t tasty.

How do you handle mistakes in the kitchen?

Zucchini Bread with Chocolate and Walnuts
adapted from New Yorker By Heart

½ cup butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups grated zucchini
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cups grated zucchini
½ cup dark chocolate, chopped (chocolate chips would work as well)
½ cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×5 baking pan or line with parchment paper, set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Mix in grated zucchini

Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in chopped nuts and chocolate.

Spread batter into prepared pan, and bake for 50-55 minutes until golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, then turn out of pan and let loaf cool on rack completely.

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