Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread | Image: Laura Messersmith

Earlier this summer (it’s still summer right?) we traveled out to Colorado to visit my brother, sister-in-law and new baby nephew (!!) Mike and I both love breakfast, so while we were in Denver we had to check out the local coffee shops and cafes, and boy they did not disappoint! We discovered Lula Rose General Store when a long line and a fortuitous parking spot conspired to deposit us on the shop’s doorstep. There’s a reason Eater included Lula Rose on their Ultimate Guide to Denver's Best Coffee Shops. Revived by their awesome cold brew and a slice of fantastic Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread I was ready to tackle the day.

I was also reminded A. that zucchini bread exists. Honestly I can’t remember when I last had some let alone made any…? And B. that any and all quick breads involving a vegetable or fruit are vastly improved with the addition of chocolate and preferably also chocolate chips. Tell me I’m wrong.

I’ve pretty much been chasing the dream of that bread ever since and now that it’s prime zucchini surplus season I think we’ve all earned the right to consume it in dessert form. Your CSA box will thank me.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread | Image: Laura Messersmith

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread (yield: 1 loaf)

Ingredients:
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
1 2/3 cups all purpose Flour
2 1/2 cups (1 large) shredded zucchini
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Streusel:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350°F; lightly grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, honey, oil, sugar, and vanilla on low speed until smooth.

Place the salt, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder, 1/3 cup of the cocoa, and flour in a fine sieve and sift into the wet mixture. Beat on low until nearly combined – some streaks of flour will remain.

Shred the zucchini on a box grater and very lightly press between paper towels before folding into the batter with a rubber spatula. Place and chocolate chips in a small bowl and toss with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, then fold the chips into the batter.

In the same small bowl, make the streusel by combining the sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and softened butter. Rub together between your fingers or press with the back of a spoon until a damp, crumbly mixture forms.

Sprinkle half the streusel in the bottom of the prepared loaf pan, pour in the batter, and then distribute the remaining streusel over the top.

Bake the bread for 55-65 minutes, rotating half way through the baking time, until a toothpick comes out clean (don’t be fooled by melted chocolate chips!) and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.

Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes before turning it out onto a rack. Cool completely before slicing. Store well-wrapped, at room temperature.

Re-written and adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread with reference to the New York Times’s Chocolate Streusel Pound Cake by Melissa Clark.

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes! I used one large mixing bowl, one small mixing bowl, a fine mesh sieve (optional), a 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pan, dry and liquid measuring cups and spoons. A hand mixer, rubber spatula, and parchment paper.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread | Image: Laura Messersmith

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread | Image: Laura Messersmith

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie | Image: Laura Messersmith

It’s not overstating a fact to call the chocolate chip cookie iconic and there’s a reason they’re the first to go from any conference room buffet leaving only decoy oatmeal raisin and lackluster plain sugar to be last picks. Chocolate chip cookies are flipping delicious – sweet, a bit salty, and if the baker isn’t stingy with the chocolate pieces they can be downright decadent (hello fellow Levain devotees.)

I started my baking career with the classic yellow-bag Toll House recipe only daring to add an extra half teaspoon of vanilla or quarter cup of chips for fear of risking cookie meltdown. Today, I’m proud to say that while that version remains the bedrock of my kitchen memories I’ve found the courage to branch out a bit and explore.

There can never be enough chocolate chip cookies which means the search for the perfect recipe is ongoing. First with a Tara O’Brady’s recipe that toyed with both the brown sugar:white sugar ratio and included melted butter.* Now with this challenger from the very talented Joy Wilson, better known as Joy The Baker, we’re trying browned butter and now a third sugar ratio. All in the name of science, of course.

*Since I never plan quite far enough ahead; room temperature butter is always my downfall, so this was a major development.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie | Image: Laura Messersmith

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (yield: about 3 dozen cookies)

Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) room temperature unsalted butter, divided
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped bittersweet chocolate chips
flaked sea salt, to sprinkle on top

Instructions:
Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Place half the butter (1 stick) in a medium heavy-bottomed skillet; stainless steel or light colored will help you track the progress of the butter more easily. Melt the butter over medium-low heat, swirling the pan occasionally. The butter will foam as it cooks, and start to crackle and pop. Once the crackling stops, keep a close watch, continuing to swirl the pan often. The butter will start to smell nutty, and brown bits will form in the bottom, about 5-7 minutes. Once the bits are the color of wildflower honey remove from the heat and immediately pour it into a small bowl, bits and all. This will stop the butter from cooking and burning. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes.

Beat the remaining 1 stick room temperature butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Next, beat in the vanilla extract and molasses.

Pour the cooled brown butter into the bowl, along with the granulated sugar. Beat for 2 minutes, until smooth; the mixture will lighten to the color of pale sand and become fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk, and beat for one more minute.

Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda into the butter mixture, beating on low speed just until everything is incorporated. Use a spatula to fold in the chocolate chips by hand and finish incorporating all of the dry ingredients.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper, waxed paper, or plastic wrap. Flatten it slightly into a thick disk, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. About 15 minutes before you’re ready to begin baking, place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat your oven to 350°F.

Break the dough up into equal pieces – about 2 tablespoons worth - and roll into balls between your hands. Place the balls of dough on the prepared baking sheets leaving 2-inches of space between them so they have room to spread as they bake.

Sprinkle the top of the cookies with flaked sea salt – according to your taste**.

Bake the cookies in the pre-heated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheet pan halfway through, until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven, and allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet (5 minutes or so) before moving them.

Serve warm; or cool completely, and store airtight at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, wrap well and freeze.

**Note on Sea Salt: I made these cookies both with and without the sprinkling of sea salt on top and found that without it they were a little under-seasoned. If you don’t plan to use it then I’d add a bit salt more to the dough itself to keep the cookies from tasting flat.

Lightly adapted and rewritten from Joy the Baker’s The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
For a cookie recipe, yes. I used one large mixing bowl, medium stainless steel skillet, an electric hand mixer, two rimmed baking sheets, mesh sieve (optional), measuring cups and spoons, a rubber spatula, metal spatula, small cutting board and a chef’s knife.

The Verdict:
How could these cookies possibly be anything other than AMAZING? Normally I resist trends like sprinkling sea salt on everything or constantly browning butter, but in this case these little additions to the process offer so much flavor and depth that it would be miserly to keep them from you. I baked a batch when a friend was visiting from out of town and after a bite or two I started to wonder whether we shouldn’t have just skipped the whole dinner business and gone straight to dessert. Well done, Ms. Wilson.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie | Image: Laura Messersmith

New York Black + White Cookies

New York Black and White Cookie  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

New York Black and White Cookie | Image: Laura Messersmith

New York can lay claim to a number of iconic foods, thin crust pizza, cheesecake, bagels, and the black + white cookie. They’re found in most bodegas, grocery stores, and delis – anywhere with a bakery case, and like many things in New York, the black + white cookie requires some explanation to be fully understood and appreciated.

First, the texture is soft and fluffy like cake, not crisp or crunchy, and that’s on purpose. In my research travels I learned that this unique quality probably springs from thrifty bakers making use of leftover cake batter and turning it into an alternate product to reduce waste.

Second, there’s lots of debate over the frosting consistency, but typically it’s firm and smooth, not quite fondant and certainly thicker than icing. The type of dense, almost fudgy frosting that holds its shape once it has set and stays put even after a bite. When I see swirls or frosting that looks smoosh-able I avoid.

Third, black + whites are always frosted on the flat side. That’s right once baked, the cookies are turned bottom side up leaving the slightly curved dome underneath like the hull of a boat.

I rediscovered these cookies after a long hiatus when we moved to the city a few years ago – Upstate when I was a kid we called them “half-moon cookies” but here in the city they go by the more straightforward “black + white” – and it’s been true love ever since (both city and cookie.)

New York Black and White Cookie  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

New York Black and White Cookie | Image: Laura Messersmith

Three-Bite NYC Black + White Cookies (yield: 2 dozen cookies)

Cookie Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Vanilla Icing Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 teaspoons water
1/8 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Icing Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
4 teaspoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the room temperature butter and sugar until creamy with a hand mixer. Add in the vanilla extract and egg and mix until well combined. Scrape down the bowl.

Add a third of the flour mixture at a time alternating with the buttermilk. Mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be thick, fluffy, and pale yellow.

Use a cookie scoop or pastry bag to portion the cookies spacing them 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Note on Portion: The cookies spread a bit and puff up. A 1 tablespoon portion of batter will yield a cookie about 1.5 inches in diameter.

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees F. for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the tops spring back when pressed gently and the cookies are a light golden brown around the edges. Cool completely before icing.

While the cookies are cooling, prepare the vanilla icing by whisking the confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, water, vanilla, and salt together until very smooth. Do the same in a separate bowl for the chocolate icing, whisking together the confectioner’s sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, corn syrup, water, vanilla extract, salt.

The icing should be thin enough that it is easily spreadable, but not runny. If it seems dry, add water 1/2 teaspoon at a time; if it’s too thin, add confectioner’s sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.

Flip the cooled cookies so their flat sides are up. Use an offset spatula or piping bag to spread vanilla icing on half of the cookies, allow the icing set for a few minutes, then spread chocolate icing on the other half.

Store the cookies in an airtight container between sheets of parchment paper at room temperature for up to two days.

Re-written and lightly adapted from Yossy Arefi’s Mini Black & White Cookies via Food52.

New York Black and White Cookie  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

New York Black and White Cookie | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, for a frosted cookie they’re relatively low-maintenance. I used a medium mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, electric hand mixer, two rimmed baking sheets, measuring cups and spoons as well as a rubber spatula, cookie scoop, offset spatula, and wire whisk.

The Verdict:
I made these for a friend and was delighted to learn that they’re her favorite cookie and were served at her wedding. They received G’s stamp of approval, which is high praise. This particular recipe is my ideal, made from simple, easily sourced ingredients. Deep, dark bittersweet chocolate married to sweet vanilla frosting on top of a cloud-like cake. Sublime and an excellent recipe to keep for the days when a black + white might not be a trip to the corner away.

New York Black and White Cookie  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

New York Black and White Cookie | Image: Laura Messersmith

One-Bowl Coconut Almond Granola

One Bowl Coconut Almond Granola  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

One Bowl Coconut Almond Granola | Image: Laura Messersmith

I think I’ve teased this recipe enough with various photos on social media and now it’s time to actually reveal what’s become essentially its own food group in our household. I’ve been tinkering with the ingredients and baking time and I can safely say that we’re addicted. It hasn’t come to marking how much is left in the mason jar before I leave the apartment, but we’re getting there.

Yup, it tastes that good. Lightly sweet, plenty of crunch, lovely toasted coconut and flaked almonds. Excellent sprinkled over yogurt with a handful of blueberries or some pieces of fresh pineapple. What’s even better: all the ingredients can hang out in the pantry, no special trip to the grocery store required, and it only takes one bowl. So even when we’re reaching critically low levels we’re really only about 30 minutes away from a fresh batch.

One Bowl Coconut Almond Granola  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

One Bowl Coconut Almond Granola | Image: Laura Messersmith

One-Bowl Coconut Almond Granola (yield 2 1/2 cups)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder
2 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup raw sliced almonds
1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1/3 cup dried apricots, sliced

Instructions:
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine oats, vanilla protein powder, brown sugar, ginger cinnamon, and salt. (If you’re not into protein powder you can leave it out – just keep an eye on your baking times – or sub in whole wheat flour.)

Pour the olive oil, maple syrup, and vanilla extract onto the dry ingredients and stir until the oats are evenly coated and the granola is well mixed.

Spread the granola mixture in an even layer on the prepared rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F. for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir to break up the clusters and sprinkle the almonds evenly over the granola. Bake for another 8 minutes, again stirring before adding the flaked coconut. Bake for a final 6-8 minutes until the granola is golden brown.

Remove from the oven, the slide the parchment paper and granola onto a wire rack and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before adding the dried apricot pieces.

Allow the entire mixture to cool completely before storing or serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Serve with vanilla greek yogurt and fresh fruit.

Adapted from Small Batch Granola by Joy the Baker.

One Bowl Coconut Almond Granola  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

One Bowl Coconut Almond Granola | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Absolutely. I used a medium mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a rubber spatula, rimmed baking sheet, and a wire cooling rack. Parchment paper will prevent the granola from browning too quickly and helps with the cooling process.

The Verdict:
Our granola consumption has gone up 1000% since I started making my own. It’s just the right amount of sweetly spicy, the oats and almonds give it enough satisfying heft, and the apricots are pleasantly chewy. We often bring along a small container to jazz up a cup of yogurt, and it makes a parfait or dish of ice cream feel like a treat. I also love that the basic oat mixture is endlessly adaptable to what’s in the pantry, so expect more variations down the road.

One Bowl Coconut Almond Granola  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

One Bowl Coconut Almond Granola | Image: Laura Messersmith