Trying Out A New Recipe: Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
Posted on August 9, 2022 Posted by Athena Scalzi 42 Comments
My grandma keeps giving me zucchinis from her garden the size of toddlers, so I’ve been trying out zucchini recipes lately! Recently, I tried Dessert For Two’s Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread. I’ve been following this food blogger for a couple years now, but never tried out anything by her, so I was excited to give this one a shot.
For the ingredients, I’d say everything is pretty standard, the only things you may not really have on hand is nutmeg and chocolate chips, and of course the zucchini.
Everything started out really well. I mixed together the butter, sugar, and honey:
Then I added the eggs, and it was time to squeeze the water out of the zucchini.
I’ve never handled zucchini before, so I thought that paper towels would be enough. It was not.
After the zucchini immediately soaked the paper towels, the paper towel busted open and my zucchini threatened to fall into the sink.
I tried the method again with way more paper towels, and the same thing happened. I figured that that was good enough, and put the zucchini into the batter (it was not good enough). I also added the cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg.
My batter ended up looking like this:
I’d never made zucchini bread before, but even I could tell that something was not right.
At this point, I thought for sure it was so liquid-y because I didn’t squeeze enough water out of the zucchini. But there’s no way that the water in the zucchini alone could do this much damage, right?
I knew I couldn’t put it in the oven like this. So I tried to strain it. HORRIBLE IDEA.
As you can see, tons of batter fell out in my attempt to separate it from the liquid. I transferred what was left of the batter into the loaf pan, which ended up getting a bunch of batter on my floor as I carried it from the sink (I am not the brightest).
I threw it in the oven in frustration and hoped for the best.
I did not get the best.
I could not figure out how I had fucked this up so badly. I sat there and contemplated for awhile, looked over the recipe again and again, and couldn’t determine what went wrong.
So, I decided to retry, and this time, I was going to squeeze ALL THE WATER OUT.
The first couple steps went just as swimmingly as the first time around, and this time I got a clean kitchen towel instead of paper towels to wring these bitch ass zucchini shreds out.
I added the zucchini in, and then added in cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda, and… flour.
My hand stopped as it scooped the measuring cup into the flour. I had forgotten the flour in the first loaf. Two whole cups of it.
I felt so silly, but relieved to know that it was such a fixable error. Finally, I had some good-looking batter!
(I took a picture of the batter before I added the chocolate chips, but you can see them in the loaf pan.)
(I also took a picture of the batter in the loaf pan before I added the chocolate chips on top, but you can see them when it comes out.)
I did it! Apparently flour makes a world of difference.
I still had some zucchini left, so I decided to make another loaf, since the first one hadn’t turned out.
As you can see, the batter looks exactly the same.
But for some reason, it came out looking a little odd. I didn’t put chocolate chips all over the top of this one, so I figured maybe that was why it looked off.
I let it cool for a while, and saw the top collapsed. I cut into it, only to find that it wasn’t baked through.
I was miffed. Why did it turn out different when I had made it the exact same way? I just repeated the exact same process that gave me a good loaf, so what had happened here? I threw it away and called it quits on bread making for the night.
As for the loaf the did turn out, I thought it was kind of meh. It was on the dry side, and just not as good as zucchini bread I’ve had in the past. But it was good enough with butter spread on it, at least.
All in all, it’s not the worst baking failure I’ve ever had.
Do you like zucchini? How about in bread form? Do you have a good recipe for it? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!
I never wring out the zucchini – but you need a recipe that accounts for the extra liquid. Try this one by Deb Perlman of Smitten Kitchen: https://smittenkitchen.com/2019/08/ultimate-zucchini-bread/
(You can add chocolate chips to this, I’m sure.) Everything I make from her blog turns out just like she says it will, and she explains every step so clearly!
Timely information! Yesterday was Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbors’ Porch Day, after all.
LOL, reminds me of the time I forgot to add the baking powder to the cookies I was making, and the cookies spread so much when baking that I had one giant rectangular cookie the size of the cookie sheet.
I always enjoy your travel posts, restaurant reviews and baking posts a lot.
I love zucchini bread; I’m going to try that Smitten Kitchen recipe. Thanks Kris!
My only zucchini bread recipe requires 5 cups of zucchini (post-squeezing!) and makes 8 loaves, which is really only useful when you’re desperately overwhelmed with zucchini.
But having spent all day baking almost a hundred loaves of zucchini bread, I think I have the expertise to say that the second loaf probably might have turned out differently because the oven was hotter the second time around. Definitely it looks to me like it was baked at too high a temperature: a little too dark on the bottom but nonetheless underbaked in the middle. My recipe usually bakes for an hour at 350°F. A more “low and slow” bake might have helped the first one be less dry, too, or maybe that was the recipe’s fault.
Also, if you reserve the zucchini juice in a cup instead of squeezing it into the sink, it makes for a surprisingly refreshing and tasty drink (think cucumber water), though it won’t last overnight.
I have to admit I’ve never understood the concept of zucchini bread (or carrot cake for that matter). I love most vegetables, although not zucchini so much, but I don’t know why people put them in dessert. Maybe it’s just one of those things my mom probably didn’t like so I didn’t grow up eating.
Speaking of Smitten Kitchen, my most recent baking screw-up was making Chocolate Dutch Babies (https://smittenkitchen.com/2017/01/chocolate-dutch-baby/) and forgetting to add the milk. I realized it a couple minutes after putting it in the oven when I saw the unused measuring cup sitting on the counter so I had time to toss it and start over. My brain takes a while to kick into gear in the morning. This is why I don’t usually make anything more complicated than scrambled eggs or Krusteaz pancakes.
Athena, I dearly love your adventures in baking. Your mistakes and solutions and guesses and corrections are so relatable! So many of these blogs about baking adventure are step-by-step instructions in how to make something that will never come out of my kitchen. Yours feel like getting together with my best friend, both of us a little bit drunk, and making a mess with a lot of giggling.
‘bitch-ass zucchini shreds’. Heh. Sing on, sister.
I was going to suggest the Smitten Kitchen ultimate zucchini bread, but someone already did! I have added chocolate chips to it and it came out amazing.
Most zucchini bread recipes do NOT ask you to squeeze the zucchini. My go-to recipe (Mom’s Zucchini Bread over at All Recipes.com, https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/6698/moms-zucchini-bread/) doesn’t, and it works every time.
I can SO relate to leaving the flour out! I made apple muffins one time, but, when they came out of the oven, they were all crumbly – NOT muffin-y AT ALL. I then realized I had left the flour out. BUT, I used the “muffins” as an oatmeal topping and it was REALLY good. I continued to make those “muffins”, leaving out the flour, as a topping for my oatmeal. It was quite tasty! The best cooking mistake I’ve ever made.
Sometimes your adhd really shows. I relate. I was diagnosed when I was 6, in 71, which was long before it was trendy.
When baking I put out the ingredients in the order I’m going to use them so that i don’t forget something. I also weigh the flour and sugar. I have an oven thermometer because most ovens aren’t calibrated properly. Cooking may be an art, but baking is a science.
And, seriously, get a subscription to Cooks Illustrated.
Oh, dear – your flourless zucchini bread reminds me of the time I baked a blueberry pie and forgot to put in the sugar. It was, um, not a success.
I definitely endorse wiredog’s suggestion of pulling out all the ingredients ahead of time and lining them up in the order they’re called for in the recipe. That is a lifesaver for me.
Did you ever get an instant-read thermometer? I always temp-test baked goods before pulling them out of the oven, because I’ve had too many episodes of things coming out like your third loaf. You want the temp in the center of the loaf to be around 200 degrees F. You might also consider getting an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is heating accurately.
We love zucchini bread at our house, and look for those giant zucchinis at the Farmers’ Market specifically for making bread. My late mother’s recipe is our standard go-to; it does not involve squeezing the water out, and the bread bakes at 325 degrees. No idea where she found it (she died before the Internet existed) but it’s a keeper.
Thanks for another great baking story, Athena – I really enjoy these!
My very favorite zucchini recipe:
take your zucchinis and a very sharp and large knife
dice the zucchinis
wash and dry the knife
add diced zucchinis to compost pile
I keep forgetting to eat before I come to this site. I guess it’s cake for breakfast again today –
A good thing to do with zuck’s is to shred them, put them in a colander and put the colander in a bowl and then push on it, the liquid will collect in the bowl. Also let it sit over night and “drip” with the occasional squeeeze/push to get the extra fluid out.
I make zucchini bread the (LAZY!) way I make almost all non-yeasted breads; with Classique Faire Belgian Waffle mix. Just add the zucchini and other niblets to a pouch of the mix, throw in some sugar or sweetener if you want it extra sweet, add enough water to make a batter of the right consistency, and bake it at 350 until it smells good and a knife stuck into it comes out clean. Oh, and sprinkle actual sugar on top before baking, for crunchy goodness.
The very best version of this contains zucchini, chopped-up candied ginger, and fresh cranberries.
(reading this, I realize I’ve inherited my great-grandma’s cooking approach. She was famous for a recipe that included ‘add enough flour, and cook till done.’)
@ Steve Nicholson
The idea behind zucchini bread or carrot cake is that the vegetable matter keeps the cake moist, and usually the cake or bread is best after a day of sitting so that the moisture remaining in the veggies can diffuse through the rest of the cake/bread after the baking removes most of it.
Essentially the vegetable matter acts as a reservoir of moisture, and you can use just about any vegetable matter that will hold a decent amount of moisture (and preferably not too much starch).
The same principle can apply to scones incidentally, which are supposed to be dry, but can be made incrementally less dry by the inclusion of (for a savory example) chopped up sundried tomato and feta. Or for a sweet example include some craisins that have been allowed to soak for a little while along with some white/dark chocolate.
I remember one time while baking I grabbed baking soda instead of baking powder and dumped in the designated amount.
The resulting cake did NOT taste good!
What is it with grandmothers and zucchini, anyway? When she was alive my Grandma used to mail us zucchini bread, zucchini jam, canned zucchini, pickled zucchini, and sometimes even fresh zucchini!
Since neither Tammy nor I like zucchini, we thanked her politely and tried to fob off the zucchini dishes on anybody we knew who’d take it….
Your first picture, of all the ingredients, I can’t tell if it includes flour? Perhaps a clue as to the coming debacle! I would never line up everything in order, (way too regimented) but I do pull them all out and put them together. Mostly as a check to make sure I actually have them.
The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book has a lovely recipe for zucchini bread, and their trick for draining the moisture is to put the zucchini in the food processor with a bit of sugar (2 Tbsp for a pound of raw zucchini). The sugar helps to draw out the moisture, just like when you macerate strawberries for shortcake, so you get even more out. Once shredded in the food processor the recipe calls for you to leave them to drain for 30 minutes in a fine mesh strainer, and then follow up by squeezing even more liquid out with some paper towels. You can also shred them by hand on a box grater and just toss with the sugar after if you don’t want to use a food processor.
I’m not fond of courgettes (what we call zucchini in the UK), partly because as you discovered they are mostly water. About the only thing I use them for these days is courgetti ie fake spagetti or noodles. You grate them lengthways to get strands as long as possible, put them in a colander with salt then leave to drain for at least an hour. Rinse the salt off and dry, if you have a salad spinner use that or do as my mother taught me; put the strands on a clean tea towel, pick up the corners then the sides of the tea towel in one hand so you have the courgette in an upside down ‘balloon’, go outside and swing it round vigorously. Water will spray out as you swing, it was something my mother got us kids to do as we thought it was fun, especially if there was a sibling around to “accidentally” spray. Any way once you’ve done that you can stir-fry your “noodles” with your favourite seasonings, black beans and garlic are good, and serve instead of a starch with anything that takes your fancy.
I like using smaller Zucchinis when I make bread with it. I also start by wilting the zucchini with salt for a half hour or so. Then I rinse all the salt out and let it drain for another half an hour.
I have a glass loaf pan and an electric oven, so quick bread sometimes take 80 minutes to cook through, and are very variable because of the amount of moisture in them.
Zucchini is easier to work with than pineapple, but I love pineapple almost anything.
More reasons to pull all the ingredients out before starting a recipe and put them away once you’ve used each one:
1) You know you have enough of all the ingredients before you start mixing.
2) Recipes with baking soda and/or baking powder depend on a chemical reaction, so the sooner you get the recipe in the oven after adding the rising ingredient, the better the rise. If you wait too long to get it in the oven, it comes out more dense.
My baking definitely improved once I started setting out ingredients ahead of time.
This was definitely a timely (and somewhat amusing, although I can feel your frustration) post as the start of my zuchinni crop is coming ready to harvest (with four plants, I think I’m going to be looking for suggestions and recipes soon).
Thanks for sharing!
With the second loaf, I’d guess higher oven heat plus more-mixed flour (the more you beat the dough after adding the flour, the more gluten is “developed” in it (the more of your gluten links up with other bits of gluten into a net/lattice) and you end up with a bunch of texture and other changes. While you can get air pockets under a top bubble with eggy breads, that one looks more like a too-well-developed-for-good-quickbread gluten bubble to me.
I hope the first loaf tastes better tomorrow! Sometimes that happens.
RE: Zucchini Bread. Last thing first – it was meh because you took too much liquid out. I looked at your ingredients and I didn’t see any liquid beyond eggs and honey; this bread should be moist. Try this – don’t dry the zucchini; add oil and unsweetened applesauce; lower the amount of flour. Check out Sally’s Baking Addiction; I have had good luck with the recipes. Also you could invest in an instant read thermometer and a scale. I have much better results, particularly using a scale, as baking is fiddly; I still use a toothpick to check for doneness. I liked that you kept trying – that first loaf would have stopped a lot of people. I haven’t read the previous comments so all of this may have been said before. Good luck with whatever is your next baking project.
Wow, this is better than a food blog! So much good cooking advice that I was unfamiliar with. I have never made a zucchini bread or cake recipe that did not say to squeeze out the zucchini first, and the colander or fine strainer is a really good use for that. I also use a clean kitchen towel because paper towels are just not up to the job. I admire your persistence for trying it again. I’m pretty sure I would have just given up.
Mock apple pie: https://www.food.com/recipe/zucchini-mock-apple-pie-69270?
Yes, it’s a pie made with zucchini that’s spiced like apple pie, and it really does taste like apple pie. Highly recommended; it is delicious.
The thermometer we like is by Kuluner, I think the TP-01 (there’s no wire, just a standard metal probe). It has really made our bread baking more consistent– no more wet middles.
We use the heavily spiced zucchini bread from the Victory Garden cookbook (it’s all over the internet, including here: https://vintageetsysociety.com/2012/08/23/tastes-like-vintage-zucchini-bread/) Though the cookbook also has a not as tasty version that uses up a lot of zucchini.
It’s really interesting that the recipe wanted to you squeeze the zucchini.
I’ve been using the Silver Palette Cookbook recipe since I could bake and it’s always worked, no matter what weird variation I try on it, no squeezing required.
It helps that my recipe uses oil rather than butter, which keeps it feeling moister (since some of the liquid in butter is water that will evaporate off).
So far this year I’ve done chocolate, whole-wheat chai spice (but not all whole wheat, that won’t turn out), cherry almond chocolate, and coconut mango.
Next up will be some kind of citrus (maybe lemon poppy seed or orange cranberry) and maybe one with some wheat bran for a different texture.
Zucchini bread batter also makes excellent muffins, same baking temperature, just reduce the time to about 20-25 minutes. I always end up with more batter than a 12 muffin tin, so I either make tiny muffins (still about 20 minutes) or a mini-loaf (closer to an hour) with the extra.
I love your cooking/baking articles. Totally going to try them.
As to the “I did this the same way and it didn’t turn out” I have this advice: it’s NEVER the same. I don’t know if you are baking to time/temp/doneness but I would always recommend, especially on bread, doing it to tempature on the inside. Get a Thermopen. You’ll love it.
And as a guy who used twice as much butter in a recipe for over six dozen cookies he was baking because he was convinced that he knew stuff without bothering to actually look at it, you’ve got nothing to be upset about. At least you made an honest mistake rather than an arrogant one. Those HURT!!
Am I the only one who immediately remembered Anne of Green Gables leaving the flour out of a cake? “The last time I made a cake I forgot to put the flour in. I was thinking the loveliest story about you and me, Diana. I thought you were desperately ill with smallpox and everybody deserted you, but I went boldly to your bedside and nursed you back to life; and then I took the smallpox and died and I was buried under those poplar trees in the graveyard and you planted a rosebush by my grave and watered it with your tears; and you never, never forgot the friend of your youth who sacrificed her life for you. Oh, it was such a pathetic tale, Diana. The tears just rained down over my cheeks while I mixed the cake. But I forgot the flour and the cake was a dismal failure. Flour is so essential to cakes, you know. Marilla was very cross and I don’t wonder. I’m a great trial to her.”
Catherine Asaro: I remember one time while baking I grabbed baking soda instead of baking powder and dumped in the designated amount.
I did that with a batch of Italian pizzelles once–I could have used the resulting cookies to shingle the garage roof. I suspect they would even have been water-proof . . .
HelenS: Thanks for the Anne of Green Gables story. Anne was a real handful.
We’ve been trying to grow zucchini for over ten years now. We get flowers, but the fruit never sets. A few years ago, we gave up and now just pick the flowers, dust them with flour and fry them in olive oil. They’re better than any zucchini bread.
My gluten-free zucchini bread has been the darling of many a consuite. The AllRecipes link that ellid put in above is pretty much what I do; definitely no squeezing/draining required. Quickbreads in general are great targets for gluten-free baking, if you’re into that sort of thing (or in my case, if you have friends who are into that sort of thing) because absolutely any flour whatsoever will work (okay, the 100% teff version was a bit grainy from the high bran ratio, but 50% teff and 50% millet is great). Be generous with the cinnamon, go a little easy on the oil, and life is good. Formerly just Craig is spot-on that smaller zucchini are more flavorful/less wet; once a squash grows past eight inches or so, it doesn’t actually gain anything else but water (and more mature seeds and tougher outer skin).
Kaleberg: How’s the bee population in your environment? Could also be watering or calcium issues.
Kaleberg, Try hand-pollinating the zucchini flowers. I’ve never had a lot of luck growing zucchini in previous years, but this year (with several squash plants of various types) I decided to try hand-pollinating my plants and WOW!
Assuming I can find a male flower on the days the female flowers are open (not always guaranteed), I’m definitely seeing a lot more success doing it this way.
upon reading that ominous sentence…
“Everything started out really well.”
…I could hear the theme music from “Jaws”
and brewing up on the horizon dark clouds foreboding ‘n fey
all I can do was watch helplessly as those happy peasants upon the Scalzi Estate were engulfed in a Strossian Apocalypse — much like a Lovecraftian Horror but with added cruelty of Windows XP and Google EULAs — due to errors made when chicken blood was insufficiently spread by amoral fiends from Amazon Web Services, thus failing to keep their undead gods asleep and web servers humming
…all because somebody forgot to add flour to cake batter
I like to bake pumpkin bread/muffins with shredded zucchini instead of the pumpkin. You don’t have to squeeze the water out since you’re replacing a pretty liquid ingredient. I love the spices and when my kids were little they liked how funny the muffins with green specks looked.
Athena, thank you for sharing your cooking failures as well as successes!
Relatives were recently given three extra-large zucchini while I was visiting, and tried to send some home with me. I managed to escape without the squash—it was too hot for me to bake or even use the stove at home. Now I look forward to passing along the recipes that have been shared in the comments, and maybe even trying some when the weather improves here!