Chocolate fans, gather! A healthy chocolate overload recipe, whaaaat?!
My mom has been making this recipe for years. Mid-summer, when my dad has yet again grown four times as many zucchini plants in the garden as he actually needs, my mom will make this loaf on repeat. Now that I think of it, maybe my dad just really likes this chocolate zucchini loaf?! She freezes lots, brings them to dinner outings, hikes with her lady friends, brings one when she comes to visit us or zips one out of the freezer when we go visit them.
I was inspired to make this recipe this time around because my sponsor, HumanN, requested a heart healthy baking recipe. We know them in the athletic world for BeetElite, a concentrated beet powder that helps the body produce nitric oxide. Athletes love nitric oxide because it helps promote circulation and blood flow, which studies have shown can translate for a few extra percent of performance. However, HumanN is largely known in the medical world for their many healthy heart products, that support healthy blood pressure, increased energy & circulation. Hence, the heart healthy baking recipe!
The moisture in this recipe comes from the zucchini, greek yogurt, and eggs. There’s also not much sugar in the recipe, and what I do use is refined sugar free! There is only ¼ cup of canola oil, which compared to my favourite indulgent banana bread recipe that contains nearly a cup of butter, this is incredible. I use canola oil not only because this recipe actually turns out better with oil vs butter, but because canola oil is considered to be a healthy oil. It’s low in saturated fat (the bad fat) and high in monounsaturated fat (healthy fats), which can lower cholesterol levels and improve your risk of heart disease. In other words, quite healthy for a baking recipe. Many people don’t realize, but cocoa powder has magical properties. It’s an incredible source of antioxidants, can reduce inflammation from exercise (as an athlete I love this!), support healthy cholesterol levels, and promote healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Zucchini is, well, zucchini, and Greek yogurt is healthy and delicious.
Ryan’s favourite way to eat this is just by spreading butter on top. Dad eats it with Greek yogurt and maple syrup on the side. I love to just heat mine up a bit in the microwave… extra fudgy, mmm. Sometimes, I spread a bit of maple butter on top (if you’ve never had maple butter, put it on your bucket list!).
Here's how to make it
This is so easy! It comes together really quickly, and will make your house smell divine while it’s baking. First, grate your zucchini and place it on the towel to start soaking up the moisture. Then, mix your dry ingredients in one bowl, and wet ingredients in another. Give them a bit of a stir, then add your zucchini, and your chocolate chips, and fold together just until you don’t see bits of flour anymore. Pour it in your baking pan, and voila!
A quick note about the flour in baking recipes: flour can get easily compacted in a measuring cup. If you're just using your measuring cup to scoop the flour, you can end up with another 1/3 of what the recipe is actually calling for, resulting in a dry and dense loaf. Yuck. The word isn’t great, but we do love a moist loaf ;) That’s why the flour called for in the recipe says, “measured correctly.” I always use a kitchen scale when I’m baking. Baking is more of a chemistry than cooking, and a scale allows for more precise measurements. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, just use a big spoon to spoon your flour in to your measuring cup.
Note: This isn’t a particularly sweet loaf. If you do want this sweeter, you can up the sugar content by 85g (1/4 cup) and it will still turn out, but I would add an extra 2tbsp of flour.
If you want to make this recipe gluten free, follow these really easy steps outlined in my blog post here.
Chocolatey Double Chocolate Zucchini Loaf
Calories per serving: 244 kcal
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45-55 minutes
Total time: ~1 hour
1 and 1/2 cups (225g) shredded zucchini
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour (measured correctly. See note above re. flour)
1/2 cup (42g) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder (or espresso powder)
3/4 cup (135g) semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (60ml) canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup (60g) plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup (175g) maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9x5 (or 8x4) loaf pan with nonstick spray, vegetable oil or butter. Set aside.
Place the shredded zucchini on a couple paper towels (I use a tea towel) to absorb some (but not all!) moisture. Press a towel on top as well. Set aside until step 4.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, instant coffee and chocolate chips together until combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla together until completely combined. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and give it a stir until it’s not quite fully combined. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the zucchini, just until you can’t see any streaks of flour anymore. Scrape batter into prepared baking pan.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My bread only took about 46 minutes, but do not be alarmed if yours takes longer. All ovens are different. Take the loaf out of the oven and allow it to cool in the pan. Eating this warm is heaven! The hard part is waiting for it to cool enough to remove it from the pan. It should just fall out when you flip the pan upside down, but if it’s too hot then the loaf and split in half.
Store leftover bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. This loaf freezes well for up to 3 months. I like to wrap it in wax paper, or a beeswax wrap, and put that in a ziplock bag so it doesn’t dry out while in the freezer. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Recipe Variation for muffins:
Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C) degrees and spray a 12-count pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. Prepare batter as directed above, fill each liner to the top with batter and bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C). Then, keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the temperature to 350°F (177°C) and continue to bake for an additional 14-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 10-12 muffins.