RECIPE: A chocolate recipe for zucchini lovers (or vice versa)

Zucchini and applesauce are the secret ingredients in this delicious, lower-sugar, no-fat dessert. (Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
Zucchini and applesauce are the secret ingredients in this delicious, lower-sugar, no-fat dessert. (Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Fresh zucchini is my current seasonal cooking obsession. It’s abundant, nutritious, and pairs with most entrees. My zucchini dessert game, however, was stuck in a zucchini bread rut. What other treats take advantage of zucchini’s mild taste and magnificent moisture content? These delicious chocolate bites. Only 50 calories each, they offer a sigh-inducing fudgy flavor and texture, without the cloying sweetness of store-bought brownies.

Start with a firm zucchini that is devoid of mushy spots. Leave the skin on, since most of the nutrients are in the peel. In my first test recipe, I ran the zucchini through a food processor fitted with the shredding disk. The resulting slivers stuck out of the chocolate bites like porcupine quills. For smaller shreds (and maximum sneakiness), grate the zucchini by hand so that it disappears into the batter.

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For my second test recipe, I replaced all of the sugar found in typical brownie recipes with natural applesauce. Unfortunately, applesauce alone couldn’t soften the sharpness of unsweetened cocoa powder. But the applesauce easily replaced half of the white sugar and all of the oil, which counts as a healthy cooking win.

These bites achieve maximum crave-worthiness after an overnight stay in the refrigerator. They are so tasty, I grabbed a handful every time I reached for a seltzer. Hoping for a modicum of self-control, I transferred the bites to the freezer. And that’s when I learned they are also delicious when frozen, like a healthier version of the brownie bits in your favorite ice cream. Fortunately, there’s always enough zucchini to make more.

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Caption
Zucchini and applesauce are the secret ingredients in this delicious, lower-sugar, no-fat dessert. (Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Zucchini and applesauce are the secret ingredients in this delicious, lower-sugar, no-fat dessert. (Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Caption
Zucchini and applesauce are the secret ingredients in this delicious, lower-sugar, no-fat dessert. (Kellie Hynes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Zucchini Chocolate Bites
  • 1 (9-ounce) zucchini, unpeeled, ends trimmed
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini-muffin tins with baking spray. Grate the zucchini using the smallest holes on a box grater. Do not drain or blot the zucchini. Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the applesauce, egg, sugar and vanilla.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the applesauce mixture. Use a fork to combine the ingredients. The mixture will be dry, like the texture of cookie dough. Mix in the shredded zucchini and allow the batter to rest for 10 minutes. Stir again.
  • Place 1 tablespoon of batter in each muffin well. Bake for 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For the best taste and texture, allow the bites to come to room temperature, then refrigerate in an airtight container overnight. Keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week, and the freezer for up to 3 months. Makes 36 mini-muffins.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per mini-muffin: 50 calories (percent of calories from fat, 7), 1 gram protein, 11 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, trace total fat (no saturated fat), 5 milligrams cholesterol, 91 milligrams sodium.
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