Chocolate Zucchini and Rosemary Loaf

My summer herb and vegetable garden is the inspiration behind a new zucchini loaf recipe. Fresh herbs are easy to grow , provide many nutritional and health benefits, and add natural flavor to baking. This year I expanded my herbs to include rosemary a new favorite addition to my zucchini loaf collection. My previous recipes include Lemon Thyme Zucchini Loaf and Chocolate Zucchini Loaf with a Raspberry Buttercream Frosting. Flavors of chocolate and espresso pair well with fresh rosemary and zucchini to make a moist tender loaf with tastes similar to a chocolate iced latte.

Rosemary is easy to grow in containers and compliments well with other herbs. Rosemary does best when planted in a sunny location and in well drained soil. Whole rosemary can be added to dishes to infuse flavor or can also be used as an attractive garnish. In this recipe, I removed the leaves from the stem, then finely cut up the leaves before blending in with the butter and sugar.

Healthy Ingredients and Baking Tips

  1. Zucchini: Zucchini is a good source of vitamin C and A, potassium, folate, soluble and insoluble fiber. The green skin is rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from free-radical cell damage. Grate the zucchini using a box grater or food processor. Medium size zucchini works best, to avoid excess moisture in a larger squash, drain the grated zucchini or lightly pat with a paper towel.
  2. Fresh Rosemary: Rosemary can be used fresh, dried, or as an essential oil and is found in sweet and savory recipes. In this recipe, first remove the leaves from the stem and then finely chop or cut up the leaves. If fresh rosemary is not available use 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary. Blending the rosemary with the butter and sugar helps to infuse the aromatic oils.
  3. 100% Cocoa powder, Mini chocolate chips, and espresso: Adds a rich chocolate flavor with a hint of espresso.
  4. Maple syrup: I like to use maple syrup to replace part of the granulated sugar. Maple syrup adds a natural sweet flavor, is more healthy and nutrient rich compared to granulated sugar.
  5. Olive oil: A combination of unsalted butter and olive oil ensures a moist and a light tender crumb. I like to use a extra light mild tasting olive oil in baking. Canola oil or grape seed oil can be substituted in place of the olive oil.
  6. Baking equipment: food processor or box grater, electric standup mixer with a paddle attachment or a electric handheld mixer, 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 5/8 loaf pan, measuring cups and spoons, whisk, spatula, sifter, parchment paper, no-stick baking spray, and a baker cooling rack.
  7. Baking techniques: Organize all your ingredients prior to starting the recipe, butter, buttermilk, and eggs at room temperature. Be careful not to over mix the flour mixture with the batter, I like to reserve a small amount and gently fold in with a spatula. After transferring the batter into the loaf pan, take a sharp knife and score the top by making a shallow cut down the center length of the loaf. This controls expansion during baking and adds to a beautiful presentation. During the last 5 to 7 minutes of baking time, look for browning and insert a toothpick to check if bread is cooked through.

Recipe

Chocolate Zucchini and Rosemary Loaf

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Rosemary leaves finely cut-up
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded zucchini

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour sifted
  • 1/3 cup 100% Cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup Mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray loaf pan with a no-stick baking spray and line the bottom and 2 sides with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together sifted all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
  3. On medium speed with an electric or standup mixer beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add rosemary leaves and blend well. Then add olive oil and maple syrup, continue to beat until light and fluffy, approximately 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time until well blended.
  5. Whisk together the espresso and buttermilk.
  6. On slow speed, starting and ending with flour mixture alternate with buttermilk /espresso just until blended, being careful not over mix.
  7. Gently fold in shredded zucchini and mini chocolate chips.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan, and place on center rack of oven. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until top is lightly brown and when batter is cooked through using a tooth pick.
  9. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Remove from loaf pan and allow to completely cool on baking cooling rack.
  10. Store at room temperature for 1-2 days, or if desired wrap and place in the freezer for a later date.

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