Sunday, September 14, 2014

Zucchini muffin - Piccoli Dolci (Little dessert treats), read the post for relevance :-)

Since I threw in Italian verbiage out there in the post title, let me explain what it means and how it relates to what I have today. No, I haven't visited Italy (very much on my bucket list) and have not been going to any language classes either. We do like Italian food and favor Olive Garden franchises for their fresh baked bread and minestrone soup that comes with a side of a big bowl of salad. But what I love most is the decadent Tiramasu after the food, so always keep some place for it. Last time we went to this restaurant, we were all hungry and ended up gorging on the salad, bread and the entrees so dessert was out of question (well, almost). As we looked at the dessert menu, the thing that caught my attention was this new phrase, 'Piccoli Dolci' and really enticing pictures of cute, small size desserts - layered cake, mousse, pastry creams and berries, sounds delicious? ofcourse. Piccoli Dolci means small cakes or little dessert treats in Italian. I made the big sacrifice of not ordering my usual Tiramasu and asked for a Piccoli Dolci. The dessert was small, served in a cup about the size of tea candle holders, and perfect for a sweet craving. Smaller the size, smaller the guilt. Yum!!
Why do I have that phrase in my post title today? I am not serving you any Italian desserts but I liked the way the phrase sounded and wanted to use it somewhere on the blog :-). When I was making these muffins, I ended up using the tiny muffin liners (or holders in my case) and made them 'one gulp' size. It is little, it is a dessert, so there you go.

On to the recipe itself, though the title says, zucchini muffins, zucchini is just one of the ingredients in it. This moist and deliciously sweet muffin is loaded with so much of tropical flavors and goodness that I was going to call it my 'tropical muffin' :-). But wanted to keep the original name and titled it zucchini muffins.
I harvested 2 more zucchinis over the weekend, now that I have a whole lot of recipes with zucchinis, I am just grateful for the bounty. What is better is that DD is not bored (not yet) of zucchinis, me thinks I can get away with feeding her the same vegetable over and over as long as I cleverly disguise it in different forms, shapes and tastes :-). So, the saga of zucchinis continues.

Last week when I shared a zucchini with a colleague at work, she made these muffins and brought them for me and the rest of the group to taste the next day. They were delicious with a flavor explosion in the mouth. You know what happened next, don't you? I asked (may be pestered) for the recipe and got it. Armed with fresh zucchinis, this recipe was the first thought and since we were planning to visit our little nephew and niece, I went ahead and made a batch. Given the size of individual muffins I made, I ended up getting almost 30 muffins, believe me when I say they are perfect size for kids and adults alike. I halved the original recipe and made it egg free by using my trusted egg replacement. See below for details. Thanks M for the delicious recipe. Never imagined zucchini in such a treat.
I took some to share with my Chinmaya kids today, they all loved it and polished off the mini muffins. I also heard back from the cousins that they enjoyed the muffins too. So I changed my blog post plan a tiny bit and ended up writing about the muffins instead of what I had planned before :-).

This recipe incorporates a lot of fruity flavors but the end result is surprisingly homogeneous with all of them playing together synchronously. You have bites of fresh pineapple and craisins(dried cranberries) in addition to the nutty flavor from coconut. Very easy to put together and yummy to relish.

What do you need to make zucchini muffins? 
1.5 cup All purpose flour
1 cup sugar (reduce it by 1 Tbsp if you want it mildly sweet)
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup grated zucchini
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce (this is my egg replacement, 1 egg=1/4 cup AS)
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1/2 Tsp vanilla essence
1  Tsp orange zest
1/2 Tsp baking soda
1/8 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp freshly ground cinnamon
1/3 cup coconut flakes (I used the sweetened variety)
3 Tbsp chopped pineapple
1/2 cup craisins or raisins - chopped roughly
How do you make zucchini muffins? 

  • Grate zucchini and keep aside. 
  • In a mixing bowl, put sugar, apple sauce, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla and oil and mix it for 2 mins with a whisk or fork. Do not expect it to become creamy but aim to get a homogeneous mixture of ingredients. 
  • Sift the flour, salt, cinnamon powder and baking soda together and fold it into the wet mixture in the bowl. 
  • Add the coconut, pineapple, craisins/raisins and grated zucchini
  • Give a good mix to combine all ingredients, spoon them into individual muffin containers.
  • Preheat the oven to 325F and bake the muffins for about 20 minutes (watch them closely during the last couple of minutes as oven temp vary a lot). 
  • Mine took 20 minutes and the tooth pick inserted in the middle came out clean. 
  • Take them out and let cool a little bit before serving. 
Notes: 
  • You can replace orange juice with pineapple juice if you prefer. 
  • I am thinking (not tried yet) that you can replace zucchini with bottle gourd gratings. 
  • Original recipe baked this mixture as a loaf and suggested a bake time of 50 minutes, muffins bake much faster.