Kitchen Wit and Wisdom: Zucchini gets the sweet treatment

Too much zucchini in your garden? Never fear: Cathi Litzenberger has some tasty recipes to use up all of the popular veggie

  • Aug. 14, 2013 5:00 p.m.

The zucchini is probably one of the most prolific and versatile summer squashes grown in our area. It can be stuffed, sautéed, grilled, baked, stir-fried into countless recipes, sliced and baked into pizzas, casseroles and any dish imaginable. Zucchini can be made into crispy fries, fritters, salads, cakes, breads, cookies, cobblers, crisps, and many other desserts, just to name a few. So for all you home gardeners with an excess of zucchini, this is the time to share.

Pineapple Zucchini Sheet Cake

with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (you can use white flour if you don’t have this)

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or more  to taste (optional)

1 pinch ginger (optional)

3 Tablespoons canola oil

2 whole large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups grated (unpeeled) zucchini (see note below)

1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple in juice, drained (reserve juice  for cake batter or frosting)

Frosting:

2 Tablespoons butter, softened

1 package (8 oz.) low-fat cream cheese, softened (you can also use full-fat)

2 cups powdered sugar, more or less as needed

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Splash of milk or pineapple juice, if necessary

Chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.

Combine flours, sugar, coconut, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk.

Combine oil, eggs, and vanilla; stir well. Stir egg mixture, grated zucchini, and pineapple into the flour mixture. Batter will be stiff and dry but keep folding it and it will all come together. If it still seems too dry, just add a little splash of the pineapple juice.

Spoon batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 33–35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the centre comes out with moist crumbs and cake is pulling away from sides of pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare frosting, combine butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla just until smooth. Add a splash of milk or pineapple juice if necessary. Spread frosting over top of cake. You can garnish with chopped pecans or walnuts, if desired.

Notes: If your zucchini are huge, scrape the seeds out of the centre before you shred it so it’s not too watery. Also, I spread it all out on layers of paper towel to drain it and dry it off a bit. Then I measure out 2 cups. I’m not sure if this is critical, though. Nuts can also be added to the cake batter if desired. This recipe makes a very generous amount of frosting. This recipe can be turned into a Carrot Cake just by substituting shredded carrots for the zucchini.

Zucchini Chocolate Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups white sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 eggs

1-1/2 cups vegetable oil

3 cups grated zucchini

3/4 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the eggs and oil, mix well. Fold in the nuts and zucchini until they are evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool cake completely before frosting with your favourite frosting.

Fudge Frosting

2 cups sugar

1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa

1 cup milk (regular, lactose free, almond or soy)

1/2 cup butter/margarine

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/2- 3 cups powdered sugar

In medium sauce pan, mix sugar and cocoa. Stir in milk, butter/margarine, corn syrup and salt. Heat to boiling, stirring frequently. Boil 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool for 45 minutes.

Beat in vanilla and enough powdered sugar for spreading consistency. Leftover frosting can be tightly covered and refrigerated up to 5 days or frozen up to one month.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every Wednesday and one Sunday per month.

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