My kids are plant-averse, at least when it comes to consuming. In response, I depend om sneaky deeds with plant-based ingredients. When 4 humongous zucchini ended up in my Misfits box I was thinking I’d use it in a typical zucchini bread — that quasi-spiced quick bread that is typically scrumptious but full of oil and sugar. The family knows that zucchini bread is on regular rotation in the summertime.
Not this time, family. Not this time.
This time I turned zucchini into double chocolate whole food plant-based muffins. After they were devoured by the backyard campers, my daughter said to me, “did those muffins have zucchini in them?”
“Yes,” I replied, smugly. Heavy on the smug. Moms have to relish the victories when we can.
What’s In Them?
Whole wheat pastry flour is the base of these chocolate zucchini muffins. Whole wheat pastry flour is a finely ground whole wheat flour and has less gluten. It produces a softer crumb that just cannot be achieved with whole wheat flour. This is the flour you’ll want to use in quick breads and cookies.
Grated zucchini, even after you drain and squeeze it as dry as possible, still releases moisture during the baking process — perfect for use with whole wheat flours. Whole wheat flours, pastry or others, are drier and tend to suck up any moisture in recipes. Usually, the oil content in baked products helps counter the dryness, but baking without processed oil or butter means we have to get creative about keeping the moisture content perfect. And that’s where adding plants in non-traditional ways comes to the rescue.
In this recipe, we use zucchini and a small amount of banana to both boost the moistness and increase the sweetness. Coconut sugar and just a touch of maple syrup take the place of plain processed white sugar.
Flax egg (a mixture of flaxseed meal and water) provides the binding power here. Leavening is a mix of both baking soda and baking powder. The denser whole wheat pastry flour requires plenty of lift, especially when combined with the plant contents in this recipe.
How to Make These Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
You’ll need 2 small zucchini or 1 large one. If you don’t like the dark green peel, feel free to take a potato peeler and remove it. I kept it on for added nutrients and fiber. Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater and put it in a colander to drain. Once it’s grated and in the colander, push on it to get as much water out as possible. Place the grated zucchini in the middle of a kitchen towel, roll it up like a burrito and then twist and squeeze the ends closed. Continue squeezing to get as much water out as possible, and then open the towel and set it aside for now.
Preheat the oven — I always forget this step! 350 degrees F or 180 C.
Prepare the muffin tins by lining the cups with either foil or parchment. Paper cups will not work here. Without oil, the batter will want to stick to paper cups. You can use silicone baking cups with this recipe but you’ll need to keep an eye on them when baking — they will bake faster in silicone than the recommended 15-20 minutes. If none of those options are available, lightly use a baking spray.
Next, mix up the flax egg — 1 tablespoon of flaxseed meal with 2 tablespoons of water. MIx it in a medium sized bowl. After the mixture gels (about 5 minutes) you’ll be adding the remaining wet ingredients to this bowl and you’ll need room for mixing the wet ingredients together.
In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients, making sure to get the baking soda and powder well combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the flax egg and combine well — use just 3/4 cup of almond milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently combine. If you go at it like a crazy person you’ll develop too much gluten in the flour and the muffins will be tough. Just combine to make sure there are no more clumps of dry ingredients. The batter should be easy to stir but thick. If it’s too stiff, add more almond milk 2 tablespoons at a time until it’s easy to stir.
Add the chocolate chips last and gently fold them in, Scoop the batter into the cups, filling about 3/4 of the way full. An ice cream scoop makes this job very easy and tidy. Add a few chips to the top of each muffin if you want to be fancy.
Bake the muffins, checking at the 12 minute mark and again at 15 minutes. If the tops spring back when you press on them, they are done. The tops should not be sticky.
Remove the muffin pan from the oven to a cooling rack. When the individual muffins are cool enough to handle remove them to cool on the rack directly.
Make sure these chocolate zucchini muffins cool completely before serving, otherwise they will not hold together. It will be tough, but you can resist!
Serving and Storing
These WFPB chocolate zucchini muffins are perfect with just a cup of tea or coffee. They travel beautifully, and wrapped tightly will keep in the freezer for at least a month. Or keep them on the counter covered for 3 days, if they last that long.
These muffins make a nice counterpart or finish to a savory brunch. A late Sunday breakfast of a tofu scramble packed full of onions, mushrooms, peppers, potatoes and broccoli finished with these muffins — perfection. Don’t forget the mimosas!
These muffins taste decadent and that is their brilliance. To any kid (young or old), it looks like an unassuming yet delicious double chocolate muffin. And it even tastes like a full-fat, full-sugar chocolate muffin. Mwahahahaha. Only you need to know that it’s oil-free and refined sugar-free and full of zucchini. Oh, us moms are devious when we need to be.
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
2 tablespoons water
1 2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
1 1/3 cup grated zucchini (grated on large holes of box grater)
3/4 cup unflavored unsweetened almond milk (plus an additional 1/4 cup in reserve)
1 small mashed banana
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celcius)
- Prepare 12-cup muffin tin by lining cups with a foil or parchment cup liner. This is important because muffins baked without oil can easily stick to an unlined or paper-lined pan. If you’re using silicone no need to line.
- Make flax “egg” by mixing the flaxseed meal and water in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside to gel while you deal with the grated zucchini and mix the dry ingredients.
- Drain the shredded zucchini in a colander (pressing down to get as much water out as possible. Place the zucchini on a kitchen towel and roll it up like a Tootsie Roll, twisting the ends to squeeze as much water out of the zucchini as possible. Set the zucchini aside (still rolled in the towel) while you prepare the dry ingredients.
- In a large mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients: whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder. Whisk together to mix the ingredients well.
- Unwrap the zucchini and dump it into the bowl with the flax egg. Add all the remaining wet ingredients to the zucchini and flax egg: almond milk, mashed banana, maple syrup and vanilla. Combine the ingredients well making sure there are no banana chunks.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix by hand until combined well. Don’t overmix or the muffins will be tough. If the mixture seems too dry, add the additional 1/4 cup almond milk a little at a time. It should be a thick batter but easy to mix with no dry parts.
- Mix in most of the chocolate chips or chunks, reserving a large palmful to decorate the muffin tops before baking.
- Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way full using an ice cream scoop. Top the muffin batter with a few chocolate chips.
- Bake the muffins 15-20 minutes in a preheated oven, middle rack, until the muffins spring back slightly when touched.
- Cool in the pan ( on a rack) for 10 minutes, and then remove each muffin to the rack directly to cool completely.
Seriously, get as much moisture as possible out of the grated zucchini. If you don’t the muffins will not rise as expected and baking time will be off.
Cool completely or these muffins will crumble!
I love pairing espresso powder with chocolate. It’s imperceptible in the muffins and boosts the chocolate flavor deliciously.
You can use either vegan chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips. They both work here.
- Category: Snacks
- Method: Baking
Keywords: muffins, chocolate, baking, brunch
Looking for more muffin recipes? Try these delicious Cranberry Blueberry Cardamom Crumb Muffins!